The Second Coming

I’ve been absent from my blog for just over a week, for which I apologise to those awaiting my thoughts on the visit of Wingate & Finchley to Harrow Borough’s Earlsmead stadium in the 27th of Jan.    I had a huge backlog of photographs to process and needed to get them sorted out first.   Anyway, on with the tale…

As usual, I was using the bus for this trip.   With my good lady collecting our lad from school – they were having a film show after classes that evening – I was able to get away sharp to catch the 143 to Hendon.   The wait for the 183 was quite chilly with a breeze getting up.   Finding that I was ahead of Schedule, I decided to do some work on one of my other interests – taking photos for the Geograph project.  You can check it out at http://www.geograph.org.uk/.   So I broke my journey on Kenton Road and took some evening shots.   It was at this point that I realised the temperature had dropped considerably!   By the time I’d caught a 114 from outside Kenton Station my hands were frozen – which didn’t bode well for photography at the match.   Fortunately, the 114 drops me around 5 mins from the ground and a brisk walk soon had me buying a pint in the warmth of the Harrow Borough club bar.

This being another cup match, we were once again dreading extra time and penalties.  Some of us were probably feeling, let’s just let Harrow win it in the 90 minutes and we’ll be honours even – well we weren’t, but you know what I mean!   You’d have thought that the players would have wanted to get it over quickly as well given the freezing easterly wind that was blowing straight down the ground – it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Harrow is twinned with Irkutsk 😉

The game started with some good attacks from Harrow but, as in the first meeting Wingate & Finchley soon got into the game as well and it was good end to end stuff which disappointingly would result in few chances and no goals in the first half.   A swift pint at half time and I was desperately in need of some hot food.  Last time the Cheesy Chips were good.  Unfortunately, this time they had clearly been fried in someones sump oil and the cheese had a flavour akin to soap – I’m sure that the food is usually very good but everyone’s entitled to an off night and it was just my luck that it should be on a freezing Tuesday night.

The second half dragged on like the first and, though both teams had chances that were cleared off the line, it was apparent very early on that the game was going to be another extra time extravaganza.  Time to start worrying about getting home.   I would like to note that a couple of our youth players were on the pitch and gave a good account of themselves which looks promising for the future.   Sam Robbins in the number 2 shirt had a particularly good game while regular right back Weathers found himself helping out Ahmet in central defence.  Anyway, regardless of the performances, the half finished 0 – 0 and we were due for extra time.

James Bent Scores!

All the excitement happened in the first 15 minutes of extra time.   James Bent, who is not yet a regular in the first team, scored with a beautiful curling shot into the top left corner.  With a strike like that I’m sure he will have staked a claim to getting selected more often.   Just  a few minutes of the half and another 15 to follow and we’d be home and dry!   How often , one wonders, do referees feel the need to even up the score when the play has been very balanced between the teams?   I ask because two minutes later the ref awarded a penalty to Harrow Borough for something that resembled a movement from Stravinski’s Firebird rather than a dodgy tackle on a football field.   Actually I’m surprised that he saw anything at all – I’m sure the lights at Earlsmead have few less candles than ours!   Any ill-feeling towards the ref has nothing to do with his performance I should add – he had a good game – it’s just that some of us have homes to go to.   Gavin set the scene for the now almost certain penalty shoot out by going the wrong way and The Boro’ equalised.   The rest of extra time became a European cup match with neither side risking getting caught out as they settled for penalties.

The penalty shootout differed from the one on our last visit to Earlsmead by neither keeper actually getting glove to ball as player after player walked up and slotted home (home… come on guys – some of us have got a bus to catch).   Harrow were first to blink, missing their 10th penalty – at least I think it was their 10th but the sap in my wooden brain block had frozen by this stage.   Unfortunately Ola following up with what would have been the winner hit it against the post and it bounced back before being siezed by the Boro’ keeper.  Ola tried claiming that it had crossed the line (it’s always worth an ask in case the lino and ref have had enough) but even the W & F fans weren’t letting him have that one!  So it continued into the second round of penalties.  This time, Boro’s number 9 missed by about a yard and it fell to Lewis Jones to finally smack home the 12 – 11 winner for Wingate & Finchley.   Lewis, you’re my hero – now I can get a bus home – exit stage right with extreme speed.

Stranraer Arrival - Victoria 1982 - Alexander M type Bristol RE

With it being after 11pm at Harrow I opted for staying on the 183 into Golders Green station – a decision that was ratified by the 143 being ahead of us in Hendon.  As we drifted along Golders Green Road we were passed by the National Express 588 service for Inverness.  These services are true beasts of the night – leaving Victoria at 23:00 and arriving in inverness some 12 hours later.   It brought back memories of the old Scottish services of years ago when Bristol RE’s with Alexander M type bodywork were the American Greyhound of the UK.   From Golders Green it was the 82 route to the top of the Lane and a late night TfL questionnaire about why I was using public transport at this ungodly hour – Not sure what they will make of the answer… watching penalty shoot-outs in the freezing cold!

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.

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