Sunday 6th January 2008
By Roger French
The seasonal break obviously didn''t do us any favours and in fact it seemed that some players were still playing Father Christmas by dishing out a few gifts in the form of goals while the rest of Santa''s Little Helpers seemed a little bit tired and jaded. Toby "Tinkerman" Harlow had a squad of 13 to select from having opted to rest himself plus a late comer in Lee Southby. With Gary Rosslee unavailable the tinkerman persuaded Toby "Jingle Bells" Manchip to return to his former position in goal. The defence had a familiar ring about it with Pat Mongelard, Steve "Frosty the Snowman" Blanchard, Chris Webb and Roger French, midfield consisted of Chris Bourlet, Paul Storkey, Chris Ponulak with Colin Ebdon and our strike force was Paul Smith and Ian Shoebridge. Trevor Stewart and Mark James provided back-up and gave far too much detail about a certain individual''s romantic liaisons.
The day was bright and sunny and we lost the toss and started the game kicking uphill into the glaring sun which made it virtually impossible to pick out your own players when trying to pass the ball. This is the best excuse I can come up with for why we didn''t carry on with the way we have been playing to date combined with the fact that the pitch was huge and it was very easy to lose your bearings - alright the reality is we didn''t perform, at least not as well as we have been in recent weeks.
Erith used the slope and the sun to their advantage to press forward and pressure us into a number of sloppy passes and not surprisingly took the lead early in the half. As the half wore on we managed to get forward more and this led to Paul Smith adding to his already impressive tally to bring us level and leading up to the break it looked like this would be the half-time score. However we didn''t figure with the change that happened to our goalkeeper when he decided to don a big red cloak with white beard and dribble the ball out of his area whilst jingling his bells and chortling ho,ho,ho as he passed the ball to an Erith forward who promptly accepted the gift of an open goal by sticking the ball in the back of the net - there is no other explanation for this strange behaviour.
More tinkering took place during the half-time break with Lee "I was born under a wandering star" Southby taking over in goal and Toby "I wish it could be Christmas every day" Manchip moving into the striker''s role in an attempt to redeem himself. We were now playing downhill with the sun behind us but it appears that Steve "Here it is Merry Christmas" Blanchard was suffering from snow blindness as he played a rather short back pass to Lee in goal whose first touch of the game was to pick the ball out of the back of the net as Erith gratefully accepted the second gift wrapped goal of the game to go 3-1 up. Toby "Let the bells ring out for Christmas" Manchip did make amends by picking up a loose ball in their penalty area to make it 3-2 but shortly after we allowed Erith too much space to unleash a scorcher which would have burnt Lee''s fingers if he had kept his hands together - 4-2 to them. More switches took place after Chris Bourlet left a large crater in the ground with his head and was replaced by Mark "BJ" James then Trevor Stewart replaced me at left back with tinkerman Harlow taking over the line. We managed to pull another goal back following a handball in the box and the ever reliable Paul Smith getting his second of the game from the spot. We had a few near misses, shots cleared off the line and good saves from their keeper but we couldn''t add to our score. Erith managed to add 2 more goals to run out 6-3 winners to reverse the earlier defeat we inflicted on them but at least we can say we won on aggregate 10-9 over the two games!
Next week we are away to Diamond who we drew 3-3 against and hopefully all signs of Christmas will be long gone.