Association XI 1-1 Charterhouse XI

Saturday 15th September 2012

There was a calamitous start to the biggest game of the new season as Charterhouse opened the scoring in the first minute, causing this traditional grudge match to explode into life, bringing out the very best in a fresh crop of Association talent determined to prove its worth to Coach Jennings. Eton’s lack of alertness for just one of the eighty minutes played here was punished, and ruthlessly so. Excellent early pressure from the Charterhouse boys eager to make their mark on enemy soil saw the visitors gain possession. A scorching effort from distance rattled the crossbar, but the opposition player had the composure to take a touch and curl the rebound into the far corner. It was 0-1 before most spectators had even taken their seats in the new stand. There was no sense of panic though from the Eton players, and within minutes the two wingers, Collins and Codacci-Pisanelli, linked nicely, and Collins’ effort was deflected wide. Then a delightful straight chip from centre-back Pearson found the ever-keen Collins, from whose cross Lyon forced a fine save out of the Charterhouse keeper. The Eton threat, however, was generally restricted to the wings, while the midfield lacked fluidity and occasionally defensive discipline. Twenty minutes in and we witnessed the best spell of the match. An Eton free kick was worked wide and then pinged into the penalty area in a move straight out of the coaching manual. Having almost diverted the ball into their own net, Charterhouse scrambled the ball clear and burst down the other end with the Eton midfield caught napping. The speedy opposition 14 had enough about him to evade one challenge and unleash a venomous effort which Warrington parried well. The ball was still in play though and yet again a lightning counter attack saw Lyon set Collins bursting through only for the keeper to judge his angles well. Finally the spectators could take breath.

Crosses into the box were causing the opposition difficulty, with new recruit Lehmann’s cultured left boot the source of several half-chances, notably when Codacci-Pisanelli towered highest and was unlucky to head over. Chambers attacked an Eton corner with real gusto and can count himself unfortunate not to have found the target with his header. Eton were creating chances in attack, but the defence was lacking cohesion. A mix-up saw goalkeeper and fullback collide, conceding a needless corner. The holding unit of Bossom and Davis in midfield was stifled by the physicality of the Charterhouse attackers, and their frustration told as a free kick was given away in dangerous territory. Its execution, however, was poor. Charterhouse attackers were allowed time and space to shoot from distance: not wise after the first goal. On the stroke of half time though, Eton got their reward for perseverance in attack, as Chambers effortlessly controlled Codacci-Pisanelli’s crisp lob and went down under a naive challenge – penalty. Collins converted to give Eton hope going into the second half.

The second half was a more cautious affair, with the battle for midfield domination proving captivating. Biting challenges flew in, and clear-cut chances were few and far between. Long-range efforts from both sides proved the highlights of the first twenty minutes, with Warrington making a magnificent save high to his left. Coach Jennings attempted to open up the game, bringing on flair in the form of Mancroft and Miller-Stirling, while the gritty Courtenay was shifted to central midfield. Charterhouse were undeniably organised though, and Miller-Stirling didn’t have enough time to place his stamp upon the game. A rare opposition attack resulted in a header crashing against the crossbar, with Bullman doing just enough to distract the attacker.

A scintillating game ended with a fair result. Charterhouse worked hard and took their chance, but Eton’s resilience and strength of resources bodes well for this season.

Theo Heren (TEJN)