Sunday 8th October 2017
By Colin Mant
Seniors avoid swallowing bitter pill to record win
A buggered laptop was responsible for the delay for this report, so, apologies to all of you waiting with bated breath to see your name star in words. I’ll keep it brief as much of the game has now been designated to the memory bin! This is as local a game as Steve Blanchard and I could get, but like a bride on their wedding day, Shaggy still managed to arrive fashionably late. Peter was on time though and as we walked towards the changing rooms his sat-nav informed him that he was on target. Hopefully he would not need such guidance in finding the net. Arguably, with the backdrop of the Royal Artillery Barracks, this is one of the more spectacular venues we play at and Vyagra always prove to be a stiff opponent.
Mick O’Flynn, Steve Blanchard, Sinisa Gracanin and Colin Mant;
Mark Kendrick, Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba, Waine Hetherington;
Simon Thomas and Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Ian Coles, Peter Harvey, Michael Hills and Rob Petrozzi.
Supporters: Mark Kendrick’s family and Obi Ugwumba Jnr running the line.
It would be fair to say we dominated the first half. Although we had not won a game this season, our football is exuding confidence. The passing was sharp, runs were being made and when we lost the ball we got our shape quickly. Any threat Vyagra had was being snuffed out and we slowly turned the screw. Mark was foraging forward and got off a couple of salvos but didn’t trouble the goal. Kyp’s direct running was troubling the Inter defence and he broke through, cut onto his right and was looking to shoot powerfully. However, his right leg is usually the one used for support while shooting with his more trusted left foot. He pulled the right leg back, but it was too much for the brain to compute and as he swung his right boot the left leg instinctively also kicked at the ball. This resulted in his left foot playing the ball onto his right foot and his shot went skewing horribly wide, with Kyp left tumbling.
However, we were getting corners and pressure was mounting. The ball fell kindly to me from one corner and I struck the shot sweetly, only to see the ball glance off the top of the bar and over. Waine then forced a double save from the Vyagra keeper before the ball was scrambled away. We made our changes, Colesy on for Sini, Michael Hills for Mark, Peter for Simon and Rob for Michael U, but this did not unsettle us. In fact we had a greater control of the play and their main threat of playing long balls into their lively front two brought no dividend. In truth, Dave was largely untroubled. But our pressure told and Waine threaded the ball through to Kyp who finished confidently to give us the lead. Our half-time team talk was easy, keep on as we were.
Vyagra made several changes and threw caution to the wind with more players getting forward to support the front two and they were going to be a different animal in the second half. We did not have long to wait for our second though as Rob neatly put the ball to Peter’s feet and he pulled away from his man to score his third of the season. We were looking good to seal our first win of the campaign, but Inter had other ideas and were conspiring to snatch a draw or defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Firstly we gave away a soft free kick and their right back, with a cultured right foot powered the ball over our wall to give them hope and Dave no chance. We again rearranged things with Steve off for Sini, Waine replaced by Mark, Kyp making way for Simon and Shoey being rested for Michael U. Their second was pure sloppiness and a throw from me to Sini bounced awkwardly, Sini was robbed and the ball recycled to our far post where a header from the Vyagra forward floated over Dave.
Two-all and we looked all at sea with the flick-ons by their lithe black striker not being dealt with very well, until we regained our composure. It would have been harsh to have lost or even drawn given the effort everyone had put in, but with time ticking down we closed the deal. Vyagra were caught sleeping slightly from my throw-in and Obi Ugwumba held off the scorer of their first to lash the ball square in front of their goal where he found Simon Thomas getting across his defender to clip the ball deftly into the far corner. A classic forward's goal. The relief was visible and, while we had to defend resolutely, Vyagra ran out of time and we had won.
Victory felt good and full credit to our opponents who contributed to a great game of football, played in an excellent spirit. The buffet consisted of sliced baguettes with a choice of sausages, or cheese slices as filling. These were accompanied by Quavers and crab sticks. Needless to say, we celebrated in some style and were eventually forced to go home by the bar staff.
Man of the match today was Shoey who gave an assured display in midfield.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge