Titans XXL thrashed Stonewall 6-2 to climb to the top of the LUL table. However our 2Brewers side succumbed to a third straight defeat with a 4-nil loss away at Charlton
Stonewall III 2-6 Titans XXL – Report by Stu Forward
London Titans XXL came into Sunday’s match top of the league, but wary of the mistakes that had left them behind in the early stages of last week’s fixture. This weekend saw them take on a Stonewall side that had fared well so far this season.
Manager Paul Wheeler set up shop in confident fashion, determined to take the initiative through an ambitious 4-3-3 formation, with an attacking trident made up of the formidable striking partnership of Charlie Stowe, Ollie James-Parr and Rich Nicholls.
The match started in typically hectic circumstances as a Stonewall surge put the Titans defence on the backfoot in the opening minutes, forcing a diving stop from Issac Young in goal to save early blushes. In the goal line scuffle, fullback Adam Brown lasted all of 2 minutes on the pitch after coming off the worse from a stray foot in the box and having to be replaced by Callum Jewell.
However, nerves were quickly settled after the early scare, as Titans started to play the ball around the pitch, marshalled by Luke Tuffs in the middle, keeping possession in the opposition half and putting their defensive line on the backfoot. Stowe’s tasty footwork down the left flank was rewarded on the five- minute mark as he squared a ball into the box for Nicholls to dispatch into the net. Titans grew in confidence from this early surge, sending the ball up top again for Nicholls to double the lead within minutes of his first to give Titans a comfortable cushion.
Momentum was firmly with XXL as they played the ball across the pitch, continuing to pressure the Stonewall goal, but the odd defensive miscommunication allowed the opposition to sneak through and threaten a comeback. Tempers soon flared as a bad tackle, led to another bad ‘would have been great in the 80s’ tackle, with passions from both sides at risk of bubbling over. Wheeler responded by switching the top three, bringing a new dynamic to the game.
Titans held possession, but increasingly sat back and did not press the ball in key attacking areas as they had done previously. Dan Crampsie was hungry in the centre of the park, battling for each ball and crafting some deft through passes, but the attacking strides were not there to capitalise on the play. Titans absorbed the increasing pressure from Stonewall as they looked to play out until half-time, but a breakthrough attack saw Stonewall bury the ball into the top of the net just before the break to make it 2-1.
The second half started off in better fashion, as the attacking third switched again, and Adam ‘Lazarus’ Brown made a return to the pitch after what had initially looked like a season ending injury in the game’s opening minutes. Titans played more confidently on the ball, attacking play and piling pressure on the Stonewall defence. Nicholls squared the ball to James-Parr on the edge of the box, who calmly sent the ball into the net to restore the two-goal cushion.
Stonewall stepped up their attack, but David East was a force in central defence, commanding the line and meeting most balls in the air to reduce the goal threat. Nevertheless, Young was forced to make some great saves to tip the ball past the post as Stonewall bore down on goal and showed more hunger for a comeback.
That looked increasingly likely as the hosts pulled one back to make it 3-2, stepping up play as they pressed for a draw. However, Titans consolidated play with some beautiful, and less beautiful, football, as Stowe’s dancing feet combined with the battling strides of Rob Barr, to hit on the counter attack. Titans were rewarded in the last quarter as Scott de Blasio struck a well weighted ball to Stowe who calmly slotted away to put the game beyond doubt.
Stowe struck again in quick succession, deftly playing the ball around the Stonewall defence before taking another. Stonewall battled on, with a speculative volley on the edge of the box coming close, but Titans continued to press in the game’s dying moments, with Pete Trueman christening his new boots as he bore down on goal and sent the last kick of the game into the net with a clinical shot.
Titans will take heart from a strong display and the attacking link-up play that came to define the match through some well taken goals. Lessons as always in pressing the ball in key areas, but onwards and upwards. Next stop, the Titans derby in three weeks.
Line up: Young, Thurloway, East, Miller, Brown, Crampsie, Barr, Tuffs, Stowe, Nicholls, James-Parr (C) Subs: De Blasio, Forward, Jewell, Moloney, Trueman, Walton
Charlton Invicta 4 – 0 Titans 2 Brewers – Report by Jim Hearson
While the scoreline shared some similarities with the previous week, the performance in the second half gave Titans 2 Brewers plenty of positives to take back on the long trip home from Bexley.
There were some plusses early in the game too, with Kev Luke and Tom Grant giving their fullbacks a torrid time with no little amount of pace and skill, but Charlton flooded their area to prevent their probing runs from bearing fruit.
The hosts had their own speed merchants up front, allowing them to break quickly, but it was a rasping, dipping shot from distance that opened the scoring for Invicta. It was then that the game looked like it could resemble the Romans match all too much, with another couple of goals following soon afterwards.
From there, Titans steadied, with the returning Dave Simpson making a number of brave saves at the feet of the Invicta forwards. He was called upon a couple of times in the second half, but only through infrequent breaks, as Titans turned on the style.
The performance in the second period was much more controlled, with Gaffer Grimsley introducing the impressive Amine Ait M’hand and Carl Lawrence. The substitutions resulted in the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of possession and forcing the hosts into panicking throughout the half.
Titans enjoyed attack after attack, making good use of the wings once more, and constantly seeking out Ed Green up front. Sadly, he found himself up against a goalkeeper as inspired as Simpson at the opposite end, with save after save produced, including a flying right-handed tip over the bar in the final minute of the match.
It was the hosts who got the only goal of the second period, with a quick break and cross converted from close range to round off their victory.
Kev Luke was awarded the man of the match prize for his tireless creativity and all eyes now turn to the next LUL game in three weeks, which is the small matter of the first Titans derby of the season.
Line up: Simpson, D O’Regan, Hearson, Heathcote, Hope, Luke, Felton (C), Morgan, Green, Grant, Day. Subs: J Connolly, Grimsley, Court, Ait M’hand, Lawrence, Lombard