Sunday 12th November 2006
By Neil Connelly
With Adam Benningfield, Andy Cobham, Sam Small, Colin Judge and Matt Pragnell all injured, Nana missing altogether, and our Chuckle Brothers Management Duo in Australia for the Kylie Comeback Concert the Sunday Squad was at breaking point on Sunday morning as we planned for the visit of second placed Vista.
Luckily Matt P. made himself available for selection at the very last minute despite a leg injury carried over from the Saturday game and after working through the night, which showed exactly the kind of spirit that we were going to need. It also meant that we had at least one right footed player in the back four, as earlier we were trying to work out if any of the back four could even kick the ball with their right foot.
Our latest adventure got off to a bit of a chaotic start with the team changing from the traditional red and yellow kit into the black and white kit, and then not the blue kit which totally confused Barry as Vista turned up in the new Arsenal kit. At one point there were three different players in our changing room all in a different kit which was not ideal and even our Vets team looked very confused.
Nevertheless once we sorted out what colour we were playing in and Awesome Dawson turned up after fighting his way through the Sunday traffic, with one defeat in our last four games and a starting line-up in which every player had represented the First Team at one time or another including four ex-captains, we knew that we could give them a game if we got the attitude right.
Vista are one of the best footballing teams in the Senior Division and before the game we stressed the need to compete for every ball and keep our shape especially across the midfield and that is exactly what we did for the entire game.
There were excellent performances from every outfield player with the back five of Jumbo, Matt P., Matty Wright, PG, and Terry Connor all outstanding. Matty W’s performance was particularly amazing seeing that when he turned up his eyes were bright red after getting home from a stag do at 4:00am. When he saw we had the minimum players available and I told him he had to mark their man mountain of a centre forward I thought he was going to cry.
Matty W. nicked MOM from PG by tricking Daragh into giving the deciding vote to him but to be honest the entire defence was great and together restricted Vista to a just a couple of near misses and a free kick that hit the bar and then Jumbo’s head before bouncing to safety.
The midfield of Jason, Steve, Daragh, and Dan competed for all every ball and did everything we asked of them with Jason having one of his best games for a long time and completing the full 90 minutes without once asking to come off. The big talking point after the game was the last time Jason managed to score and if anyone has any idea please let him know as the closest we could narrow it down to was sometime in 2001.
Both goals came very late in the game, sadly I missed our opening goal in the 85th minute as I was mending the water bucket as the handle had fallen off after overuse in the 2nd half when it was used to deal with dead legs, bleeding noses, and both foot and ankle injuries. Note to Daragh – the next time one of those big bullies you play against treads on your toes please don’t roll about the ground screaming as it was very embarrassing running on to help you!!
Barry Chuckle opened the scoring in the 85th minute when he arrowed a low shot into the bottom right hand corner after a quick free kick by Adam was dummied by Jason. It all sounded very professional when described by Shaun on the touchline and obviously those long minutes we spent on the training pitch paid off!! I was very pleased with the team’s reaction when Barry scored as I think every outfield player was involved ion the celebration and Barry himself ran away according to Matt P. like he had won the EuroMillions.
With just a few minutes left Vista pressed forward and a breakaway led to Bergkamp being sent clear in the final seconds and he coolly lobbed Vista’s advancing keeper from 25 yards to seal our best win in ages against a very good side. At this stage the bucket was mended and I did see this goal.
This week we have Defiance away and at the very least I expect the same level of commitment and team spirit that we showed on Sunday as it would be nice to get some more points on the board before Laurel & Hardy return from Down Under.
By the way Village rang me from Australia on Monday morning to find out the score and if anyone is interested the boys are having a great time, Kylie’s concert was amazing, and Tant has lost his phone and somehow burnt his feet in the last 24 hours – best not to ask how!!!!
Many thanks to both Mark Doyle and Paul Parsons who showed great club spirit for turning up as emergency substitutes and not complaining when I was not able to put them on because the game was so tight.