After watching the whole stream on YouTube, I have to say it was not short of entertainment.
Hayes came out all guns blazing throughout the first half and it looked like we had a real mountain to climb with a few intermittent chances. Their number 4 was superb. A defensive mess led to their goal and I genuinely thought this could be a painful afternoon. In addition, I felt that the ref didn't give us much in the first half, which didn't help either.
But just before half time, Reggie rounded the keeper and the ball trundled over the line to give us some hope.
Shortly after the break, what looked like a hand to the face from one of their players result in Hayes going down to 10, and it gave us a lifeline.
After fighting hard, metaphorically (but also literally in some cases, it became quite scrappy between the sides near the end with yellows being dished out left right and centre), a through ball from Buchanan to Deering saw the ball hit the back of the net in the 86th minute to give us a 1-2 lead.
After six minutes of added time, three whistles blew. Absolutely incredible. Vanarama South it is!
But of course that wasn't it.
Typically, fans ran onto the pitch and it seemed as if there was some unrest from both sides. A shameful and disappointing end to what should be jovial celebrations. However for those of us that are genuine fans, and don't want trouble, we are in the Vanarama South next season!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IN YOU YELLOWS I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT!!!!!
... but first and foremost my congratulations to the players and the management team. We supporters don't see the behind the scenes stuff, the hard yards that are put in week in, week out over nine months plus the pre-season. You did it!
I also know how much this means to the unpaid volunteers who make significant personal sacrifices to help our Club function, not to mention our loyal fan base.
On to the game. If I was a betting man (which I'm not) it went in a fairly predictable way. There's no question Hayes at their sharpest and fastest can overwhelm opposition at this level. But their achilles heel is they can only do it for an hour - they fall away badly in the final 30 minutes. Our job was to withstand the storm without being sunk and then find a way to win.
We were massively aided today by four factors:-
- Jack Turner was in top form when Hayes's attacking moves were too much for our defence. And their goal was all of our own making - hesitancy combined with pretty much zero leadership in our rearguard let them in. - Entirely against the run of play, their impressive no. 3 slipped at a crucial moment to let in Reggie, who neatly equalised just before half-time. That's pretty deflating to a home side that had dominated the half. - Which led to the red card for one of their major dangermen. Frustration leading to doing something daft is all too common at this level (have a chat with Michael Fernandes for more details). The Hayes no. 10 swiped out at Jack Ball and caught him in the face. The ref saw it and there was no alternative to a dismissal (as the YouTube video confirms). Silly boy. - After Hayes went down to 10 we finally calmed down (well, a bit) and started to pull them around with simple passes orchestrated by Sam Deering. As they tired more space opened up and it was fitting that Sam, surely one of our players of the season, was freed up to apply the coup de grace.
And a top tip to those who, very stupidly, badly let the Club down after the final whistle. For many years we've built a reputation for passionate, but friendly support. I want to keep it that way, as do many more. If you cannot deal with that then it's best you find something else to do on matchdays.
Agree with all you say Nigel, and 'phew' is the best description you could have made, but we did it at last!!
To the ferral youth, PLEASE PLEASE think about your actions. It's great to have your fervent support, and we need you for the future, but your actions will only encourage the ferrels from other Clubs when we visit them and somewhere along the line, they will be bigger and stronger than you, and no one wants any of that sort of confrontation.
Support the lads great, but don't let yourselves, and the Club down.
On a lesser note, and no way do I condone the actions of our yoof, but I thought the stewarding situation at Hayes yesterday was lax, to say the least. Segregation barriers were just a matter of sliding a bolt on the gate and opening it. No Steward present on the gate for starters!! and no thought to what problems a decent crowd could bring.
But I suppose that's what you get when a Club is normally only providing cover for around 200 people each week!!