Saturday 1st March 2008
By Colin Brazier
First, a bit of education……the origin of “clean sheet” according to Wikipedia…
The term may post back to Willy "Fatty" Foulke during his Bradford City days. While playing against Accrington Stanley in February 1907, it is said that Foulke''s jersey clashed with the red of Stanley and no-one could find a jersey large enough to fit him, so he played wrapped in a sheet, procured from a nearby house. Bradford won the game 1–0 and Foulke didn''t dive during the match, so he kept a ''clean sheet''.
NB We did manage to find a shirt big enough for Toby Manchip…
Contrary to popular belief, the Thirds are no longer a team consisting predominantly of “Old Blokes”. In fact since Ivor left there’s been a lot more space in the dressing room in which to bring in new faces, and we’ve done just that. Only a couple of oldies are left in the current team and one of those lifted the Man of the Match award. If only that’s all Todd lifted – he had a great game only spoiled by lifting his shirt at half time to take his vest off, thus revealing…no it’s too horrible to picture.
Ed had spent his morning juggling team selection and formation after each of several phone calls brought news of another dropout, or in one case unexpected availability. He settled on this team: Toby Manchip - Vets keeper/goalscorer (he doesn’t mind which) guesting in goal in place of the holidaying Sean Webber; a solid back four of Michael Seymour, James Behagg, Todd Arnold and Mark Friend; a combative midfield of Stuart Gaylor, Steve Viner, Piers Moss and Dan Smith, and the threat of Lee Brackell and Simon Davies up front. Steve Lombard and Ben Tomkins were on the bench.
After a series of hard fought unlucky defeats, including last week when triallist keeper Viner was deceived by a mishit cross for the winning goal, you might expect team spirit to be low. This wasn’t the case at all. Crofton, going for promotion, won the toss and kicked into the wind and up the slope. You would expect, therefore, that the first 45 would present our best chance of building a platform for a win, but the home side dominated possession without really threatening, even with their long throws (it seems that every team except us has a long throw merchant!). At the other end, sporadic attacks ended with a misplaced final pass or off target shot. There was one notable exception when great play down the right hand side opened up the home defence and Dan’s shot was well tipped over by the keeper.
So, goalless at half time and the manager wasn’t too happy. Would the switch of ends prove decisive? Well, yes, but not the way you’d think. We continued to soak up the pressure from – it has to be said – a disappointing Albion side and our lively forwards and midfield were able to chase passes that would have run away from them in the first half. This was illustrated by the only goal of the game on the hour. Dan chased down a bouncing ball to the edge of their area, pressured the centre back into colliding with his keeper and got his reward by clipping the ball into the empty net. The ref checked on the seemingly injured prone keeper but found that only his pride was hurt.
We have been 1-0 up several times only to get no points so no-one was taking anything for granted. Ed was presented with a problem when Piers’ hamstring called it a day. In Ramos-esque fashion he pulled a masterstroke by sending on Steve Lombard, not as a direct replacement but on the right, bringing Steve Viner into the middle. This retained our combative centre midfield while giving us an outlet on the right. A brilliant tactical switch, we all thought, but Toby gave the game away by saying he’d heard the manager saying “eeny meeny…”.
We held on reasonably comfortably, in fact as the game became stretched we should have made the game safe. A well deserved win that took us out of the bottom two for possibly the first time this season. There remains much to do – other results didn’t go our way – but we have played all of the top sides twice except Charterhouse who have to come to Farnborough, so destiny is in our own hands. Just a shame we have to wait a couple of weeks before our next game.
Finally, many thanks to Paul for running the line.
Reporter (for our new players): That bloke who comes to watch and has great ball control.