North West Neasden C 1-0 Southgate Harmen B
A goal from Paul Andrews put Neasden C back to winning ways as they claimed a hard fought victory over Harmen B.
If out of a negative comes a positive, then it came today in the performance of Neasden who went back to basics and played some of their best football of the season to date.
In the first half they knocked the ball about, built from the back, went through the midfield and attacked with purpose.
Chances were few and far between for both teams, but Neasden were knocking it about with greater authority and confidence was soon flooding through the team as they retained the ball and moved it about. Paul Andrews and Gary Dymant in the centre of the Neasden midfield looked like they had begun to find that understanding again that made them a force last season as they dominated and pulled the strings, breaking up everything Harmen had to throw at them and setting Neasden on their way with quick short passing as the catalyst for attacks.
Neasden grabbed the initiative about half way through the first half when David Marcus swung a dangerous corner into the box. The big men, Joel Hilton and Andrews made nuisances of themselves before the ball dropped at the feet of the latter and he poked home from seven yards....a real poachers finish which he no doubt learnt from his good friend Jonny Blain during his short spell at Raiders.
Harmen will feel they should have equalised when their striker who had taken time out from leading Coldplay, blazed high and wide on the volley from just 10 yards.
Dymant tested the Harmen keeper right on half time with a stinging drive that was ultimately well dealt with.
Going into half time there was a world of difference between this Neasden team who were running, moving, passing and tackling and that which had wallowed about in the mud as immobile as 11 hippos just seven days earlier.....and it was a pleasure again to be playing.
The second half was a much sterner test for the boys in yellow as Harmen pressed up and forced Neasden deeper making them go long from defence as opposed to short. In hindsight, it may have been an idea to have played two up top in the second half since it was asking a great deal of lone striker Bloom to chase down everything that the Neasden midfield and defence rejected from Harmen.
Even so, Harmen only ever looked really dangerous from set-pieces and they came closest when a wicked dead ball was delivered into the box that looked goal bound before Andrews headed away bravely and crucially from under his bar with two Harmen attackers bearing down on him.
Neasden should have had the game dead and buried ten minutes from time when a quick break led to the ball dropping on Beresford's left foot and the goal at his mercy just inside the box. Saving a miracle, this was game, set and match. But the miracle came when the Harmen keeper appeared as unexpectedly as the genie from Aladdin's lamp and threw himself at Beresford's feet to smother the effort. Well played sir!
And so Neasden got back to winning ways with a good performance. Not a great one, but certainly one which showed the foundations are certainly there to build on. Harmen put up a strong fight but lacking James Lesner and the Taylor brothers they never really had enough about them to break Neasden down.
This league is a very, very tight one and it is becoming ever more apparent week on week that no team can expect to turn up and just win. Every victory will be fought for as any team can beat any other. Neasden have never had this before, knowing in the past that usually we would need just two or three big performances in a season to win the league and go up while we could get away with averageness every other week. We will be punished in this league as we found last week and along with improved fitness, the key for Neasden is to get a first choice team out week after week. Harmen suffered today for losing some players and we suffered last week and the week before. The team that can show the greatest consistency in those available to play, and the team which goes the extra yard to get fit, will win this league as there is not a lot between any of these teams.
Man-of-the-Match: Not one of his better games, but he took an absolute kicking and was definitely targeted and dealt with it and put in a great shift while giving the rest of the team confidence.