Albion rampant against the Champions
By Liam Harris
Albion extend their unbeaten run to 5 with an impressive performance against last year's league Champions Woking & Weybridge.
Albion went into this fixture unbeaten in 4 and full of confidence after progressing through to the next round of the County Cup last week. Today they would certainly need that confidence as they faced last season's Champions Woking & Weybridge away from home. This was already set to be their biggest test so far this season and it was about to get much more difficult. Minutes before kick off Manager Elliot Machin was dealt a big blow when his team went from a strong 13 to the bare 11. Great opportunities can present themselves in the worst of times and this was now an opportunity to make a strong statement to the league about what Albion are really about.
From the whistle Albion began to put the pressure on the hosts, forcing them into errors and breaking the flow of their usual style of football. W&W struggled to get a footing in the first 20 mins and that almost showed on the score sheet when Will Hammond drifted in behind the defence only to send his effort sailing past the far post.
W&W looked to step it up after that near miss and they had two good efforts to get their noses in front, both of which cannoned off the woodwork. That was as good as it got for W&W in the first half as Albion went on to enjoy more possession and create more chances that they were unable to convert. Half time came and Albion looked to address the host's threat of long throw ins which provided their first half opportunities, and set out to stand firm and hold their ground.
Albion came out the second half as strong as they finished the first and it only took 10 minutes before they finally found themselves in front. A brilliant spell in possession ended with a stunning 30 yard curling effort from Dan Way provided by Will Hammond. The goal had been coming from Albion and what a goal it was. A thoroughly deserved lead instilled more confidence in Albion as they went in search of a second.
On 68 minutes Dan Way launched a pin point cross field ball right to the feet of Will Hammond, who controlled with ease and slotted neatly past the keeper. Further brilliant link up play from the two forward men had the host's scratching their heads, trying to figure how to cope with the Albion threat.
Things were about to get worse for the home side and with Will Hammond yet again in fine goalscoring form, he took the opportunity to bag his second when he won a free kick just outside the 18 yard box. They say third time's a charm and as this was his third free kick of the game it was just destined to be. An exquisite finish of the highest level left the keeper no chance and the host's with a mountain to climb. (W&W cameraman if you have the footage we would love a copy of grassroots at it's finest!)
The final 15 minutes saw every Albion player battle with everything they had and work tirelessly for each other as W&W piled on the pressure. Among the resolute Albion defence was Jonathan Pool, who quite possibly had the best game of his Albion career, winning every aerial ball and standing tall to every challenge that presented itself. Keeper Kevin Myers wasn't going to go quietly either. The big man was looking to claim his first clean sheet of the season and wasn't going to allow W&W to have him wait another week for the opportunity. The throw ins and corners kept on coming but Kevin was determined to command his area making two outstanding saves from close range that would have definitely been harsh on Albion.
The final whistle went and as well as claiming their most impressive victory so far this season, they sent a very bold statement to the rest of the league.
Perhaps the most resolute performance in all my time at the Albion and one that may have bigger implications at the end of the season. Next week Albion host Abbey Rangers in the league.