Sunday 12th April 2015
By Colin Mant
Seniors ‘bushed’ by Avery Hill
It was Kate Bush who warbled something about “Running up that hill”. Facing a youthful Avery Hill was, as always, going to be an uphill battle, so to speak. A very windy, but sunny day saw us make a welcome return to our natural home. The top pitch at Farrow Fields needed no drying out on this occasion, and the pitch was firm, bouncy, with the odd bobble off of a hard divot.
We had a bounty of spectators for this one, and, as they say on I’m a Celebrity - Get me Out of Here! in no particular order, the watchers were: Isabelle and Thomas French, Hannah Kleanthous, Obi Ugwumba Jnr, Sous Chef Jane, Rebecca, Vicky, Michelle Kleanthous, Mick O’Filth and Jo Colyer.
With a near gale force wind against us, Rog named the following starters: Steve Palmer in goal, Paul Scotter, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard and Roger French, in a rare start, formed the back four, Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba and Waine Hetherington across the middle, with Andy Faulks and birthday boy George Kleanthous our forward threat. Hanging in the breeze were Nick Waller, Andrew Washington, Des Lindsay and Colin Mant. Mickey Gearing, our man in black, was left to, figuratively speaking, whistle in the wind.
Things did not start well it’s fair to say, and passes were going astray and first touches were not assured on the bumpy surface. Avery Hill had clearly planned to use the strong following breeze to their advantage and looked to knock it in behind our lines at every opportunity. Some less than decisive communication between our keeper and back-line brought some hairy early moments, although we did start to find a rhythm after a while, sadly not before we were one down. With a hesitancy to close down their striker, he curled a left-footed shot past a rooted Steve P.
From the restart we looked to regain parity and half chances were coming, corners were being won, but nothing was quite falling for our front two. Avery Hill were having to defend with some vigour and it was disappointing to fall further behind when some slack marking from a corner saw their striker bag his second. With 30-minutes notched we introduced Denzil, Nick, Colin and Des for Paul, Compo, Waine and Michael – except Sini, who had played the day before for Andy’s Saturday side made way instead of Michael. Sini said he felt a bit stiff from his exertions the day before. Andy was not available for comment at the time of writing this report…
We lost a bit of our impetus through these changes, but remained two-down at the interval. Gathering ourselves, we felt we were by no means out of it as we had enjoyed a fair amount of the ball, with little reward. No changes were made at half-time and we started the second half brightly, although the wind that Avery Hill had used to great effect was dropping off.
We passed, we pressed, we were playing well and began to test Avery Hill more but still our luck was out. Not so for their striker, who found Roger French on duty at the post from a corner. With Waller like instinct in our box the ball fell ‘perfectly’ to his right-peg and he sliced in from, ooh, 6 inches. They had claimed a hat-trick for their man, but no-one could deny Rog his oggie (it was going in I tell you - ed). Look at his face; just look at his face…Waller was green…
Rog was then hooked off, along with Michael, Shoey and Steve B, with Sini, Waine, Compo and Paul replacing them. Sini, having upset Rog’s meticulous calculations earlier, found himself in a rather unfamiliar centre back role. This didn’t affect us though, and with the returning Andy getting more service he began to pull some strings. George was, well, being George, and busying himself making probing runs. Paul picked out one such run of George’s and fed the ball down the right by-line. With his back to goal, and nearer the corner flag than the goal, George managed to turn their left back, gave him a nifty nutmeg, drove towards the 6-yard box, cut past two more defenders and blitzed a shot past the keeper – a superb solo effort, the sort of goal that inspires hope. Enter that one into goal of the season say I! I say a solo goal, but Paul was later credited with an assist. Good job there isn’t a dubious assists panel!
We poured pressure on and Pat, in Barcelona this weekend, would have smiled wryly as I received a punch in the codpiece to cause some temporary discomfort at one of our corners. It turned out later to have been Des who dealt this cruel blow – and I had let him use my muscle rub earlier. He did not return the compliment in my moment of pain. Pat would have smiled even more when my resident sniper decided to take a pot-shot during a lull in play to send me into a backward roll – nobody noticed luckily for me.
Des found a ‘new muscle’, which he promptly pulled (good enough Mick?), and vacated the field for Shoey. Our tails were up, and we sought another. We were unlucky not to notch it with Andy’s raking 30-yard ball finding George at full extension, throwing his frame at the ball, only for his poke goalwards to go agonisingly wide, skimming the post en-route. This was our best spell of the game but Avery Hill were also breaking with regularity, exploiting gaps that had been vacated by our efforts to get forward. Their right-winger had a turn of pace and he began to swing the balance in Avery Hill’s favour, but luckily for us he’d been on a course at the Colin Mant School of Finishing and Football Excellence (places available - book early to avoid disappointment). Their big unit up front then dealt the coup de grace, converting from a breakaway when we failed to clear and that was that. We did not deserve to lose by such a margin, but football is a cruel mistress and the curse of not having a Deano had cost us dear again. I used to play with a Deano, made f**k all difference, we still lost games. What we need is the oppo to have an Aardvark…
To the bar, the place where wounds are licked, performances dissected and, more importantly food and beer are consumed. I would like to give our Buffet Watch fans a full run down of what this week’s spread consisted of, but, alas, by the time I arrived after taking the equipment for next week to my car, all that was left was a solitary egg roll, which had to suffice. I gather our Young Vets opposition took the ‘Senior Vets’ handwritten note by the food to mean that it was their feast. Fortunately this detail was only found out today before Rog could get his teeth into them. Jane kindly brought out some crisps and a plate of sausages that seemed in desperate need of a sun-bed, prompting Des to ask whether they had actually been cooked. Let’s hope he didn’t find out the answer to this question the hard way.
It was heart-warming to see Sini and Denzil huddled talking tactics for hours – the new Clough/Taylor in the making? Denzil then passed on his thoughts to the remaining few on how we could improve our fitness, which would reap rewards on the pitch. I could see Nick visibly shrinking at the thought of a warm-up consisting of ten laps of the pitch. Heavens above…we’ll be stretching like a bunch of Gaylord’s next…
George Kleanthous received our wishes on the anniversary of his birth and the man-of-the-match award with a busy, bristling, bubbly display of front running and a super goal that took the cake…
Man of the match: George Kleanthous