Bright New Year Start For Jets
Jets started the New Year decided that enough was enough for the side that has returned few points since the excellent start to the season and rang the changes for the return fixture against Cockfosters in what on paper is two sides in a bit of difficulty.
Jets had the early possession advantage, but often the final ball let them down and broke down promising moves. They thought they had a lead when after just three minutes Sim Armstrong got a powerful header on a free kick but it dropped inches over the bar with some areas of the crowd thinking it was a goal.
The game evened out, and both sides had their moments. Jets foul season luck was again evident as Rob Partington in goal pulled off a stunning save from a powerful shot and cruel, and painfully it went up in the air and dipped back from very high towards the goal and despite another excellent effort from Partington it crept into the goal 0-1 Cockfosters (34 mins).
The goal stunned Jets, and they had a bit of a wobble. All around were encouraging them to pull the unit back together and not “ruck apart”.
A superb snapshot by new signing Jahobi Maher levelled them back up (40 mins). The original Jets attack was cleared but Maher, on the edge of the box, sent a sweet shot past a ruck of defenders, giving the agile Cockfosters keeper no chance.
Both sides were going for this one, and the visitors started the second half the better of the two teams. On a counter, though, John Smith, who made his debut in the last match, was upended in the box. The referee went without hesitation straight to the spot; Smith immediately jumped up grabbed the ball and converted 2-1 Jets (55 mins).
The visitors upped their game and Jets got cautious, nervous and pushed back. Then a disaster for Jets as Cockfosters were given a very contentious penalty as Jude (Brother of Rak-Su Myles) Bell challenged a run at goal. The referee played advantage on a foul but was halted by the assistant’s flag who indicated the offence (that was outside the area) was, in his opinion, inside the box.
Fosters took full advantage and converted for 2-2 (74 mins).
Jets could have gone back in front almost straight from kick-off, but the Foster’s keeper made the save of the match from a stunning power drive from Smith. Both benches were saying “how did he get that!”
The gloomy Jets people were thinking; here we go again our lucks right out. Credit, though, to Jets as they got back on their game and pushed back in a slog for slog end that had both sides looking for the big three points at the bottom end.
Nick Kerley had a great run and with everyone willing him to shoot the final last-gasp block superbly denied him. At the other end, Rob Partington pulled off a good save top corner.
The match was settled (82 mins) with an absolute peach on his seasonal debut, since his return from this season’s travels, by Chris Blunden. Way, way out wide of the box a neat flick and decoy from Jets top scorer Nick Kerley was met with an instant dipping power drive. It nestled into the far side of the goal giving the keeper no hope for a most spectacular winner. Blunden, on his social media, described it as his best SSML goal. I can’t say I can compare his previous goals but if there was a better one I’d love to have seen it. 3-2 jets and eight minutes to dig in.
Both sides pick up cards, which was a shame as it had been a well-officiated match. It was essential to both sides to get a good result today, so it was going to get twitchy when the heat was on. FA directives I guess give these promotion seeking lads no option of discretion when the clipboards are on the sidelines.
Jets were excellent in the last moments, playing the clock and match down with keep it football to the flags, and gained three critical points and a much-needed morale boost win.
Jets Man of the Match was difficult as the multi changes injected a new impetus to the side. Jude Bell and Tom Gibson were excellent in the rear, and debutant Gaddiel Ntantu had a good match as a makeshift centre-half and of course Chris Blunden always a threat and a stunning winner. Today all the final nods went to coach Nick Brewer’s choice of John Smith who was busy, skilful and adventurous throughout.
There is a long way to go, and this is just one match, but it is a much-needed boost for Jets who had forgotten how the win feels, and thank you to our sponsors Carlsberg whose jugs of the good stuff made sure Jets enjoyed the evening.
Meanwhile the Reserves also started the year in style, coming from behind to beat high-flying Bovingdon Reserves 2-1 in the Herts Intermediate Cup Last-16. Jets second half comeback was started with a Scott Pugsley leveller. Mike Vickers stepped up to give Jets the win. Jets now travel to Tring Athletic Reserves in the Quarter Final at the end of the month.
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