Somehow we managed to go from 3-0 up midway through the second half to camping out at the corner flag for the last five minutes to keep the lead. The first win went on the board though and overall it was another encouraging performance. Aioli struggled with their formation in the first half, often getting outnumbered down their right hand side. We never quite managed to make to most of it, with misplaced passes, hopeful crosses and some frustrating offsides costing us. Our best chances instead came from some more direct play. First, Buffy turned his man in midfield and drove into the box, getting a chance one-on-one, but the keeper was off his line quickly to make the block. Then Adam knocked a ball straight over the defence and Dan’s shot flicked off the keeper into the top corner. We started the second half very slowly, with Aioli dominating the ball, but a couple of our counterattacks seemed to have killed the game off. Dan got his second with a toe poke after Thorin had got free down the right. Thorin then slotted in the third. Concentration became a problem after that – the afternoon taking on a celebratory drunken feel, helped along by the boozy Legends spectators and Dan’s collapse into the dirt as he lined up a hattrick volley that never arrived. We missed some good chances to extend the lead due to a combination of poor touches and the Aioli keeper continuing to get off his line quickly. Charlie then punished us, getting one back almost out of nothing with a shot from distance that dipped and bounced late, catching out Scott. Buffy and DoF were both pacing the touchline topless by this stage, one off with cramp, one with flu. Buffy had his tan on show, worked up in the morning with a dehydrating sun bathe to follow his 7km run. DoF was feverishly shouting “Hiiiiibs! Hiiiiibs! Hiiiiibs!”, trying to get something across. On the pitch it was waves of Aioli attacks and desperate defending. Jamie almost broke a player in two with a challenge in the box that was deemed clean. The ball was won. The Hibs members of the strikers’ union winced at the follow-through. Inevitably, Aioli got themselves a second, and it was starting to look a bit ominous. Fortunately, we have some players who are quite wide. A combination of Joey’s back and Dan’s arse kept the ball at the corner flag for the final minutes and we could all relax, sort of, sideline antics aside. DoF really wanted to give the Hibs MoM to his man crush Adam, who was excellent, but grudgingly opted for Dan. MoM for Aioli was their tricky and tidy centre mid.
If goals from just the last 20 minutes counted, we’d be flying high with TGA & SCC this season, but unfortunately another slow start cost us this week. A change in formation following continued mixed availability in defence, saw us start in a 3-5-2 formation, but we were outworked early, and Hibs managed to break in down the middle, going 1-nil up early. We struggled to get back in the game for the rest of the half, with Daniele easily the busier keeper, and came in at half-time with a lot of work to do 2nd half. A change in formation and the introduction of Tudor helped to put some spark into the team, as we came out passing a lot more crisply, pressing Hibs high up the pitch, however 2 hopeful balls forward, and 2 missed headers saw us inexplicably 3-0 down after around 60 minutes. A few more changes saw fresh legs up front cause Hibs a bit more hassle again, but we struggled to test their keeper, until Charlie unleashed a shot from 25 yards which nestled into the bottom corner. We were then denied a penalty for a strong challenge on Matt, which looked like a good shout from the near side, before Cristian then pounced onto a ball over the top for his first Monkeys goal, getting us back to 3-2. With time left, we unfortunately struggled to complete yet another comeback, as Hibs kept running and wound time out frustratingly well in the final few minutes in the corner. A fair score line in the end, and plenty for us to take away going in to Friday’s game against Casuals.