Our opening Wednesday night session of the year was much anticipated and a welcome return for SHWFC members. But like many eagerly awaited events last night was not as silky smooth and hassle free as expected. 28 in attendance included resident referee Steve Pitt, plus non-playing Michaylo, Coach John Davies and our money man Alex. Warm ups started with a little delay as players looked at the auxiliary equipment being assembled close by. JD worked his way through stretches with his charges coming to grip with the variety of tortuous moves displayed. The players then split into 2 groups for the training drills with little enthusiasm. A further delay to communicate the team selections only added to the frustration. We can and will operate in our usual slick manner from this week but in truth the thrill of returning to play eclipsed efforts to totally prepare. Guys just want to have fun and after this laboured prelude the first game was soon underway.
Blues fielded a very strong line up even with one player less than their rivals;
Colin, Chris, Andy, Alan, Martin B, Jeff and Joe lined up face Reds in the opening fixture.
Reds; Ian B, Tom, Deggs, Mick, Les, Steve, Tony and Lee were soon ahead as Ian B worked into position to dispatch a low drive into the far corner after good approach play by Les. Chris replied with 2 goals that found the corner of the net whilst Deggs was still trying to work out whether he was really playing between the posts. Chris was denied an early hat trick by Pitt who spotted a bust of over eager running in the build up. Reds were level with another goalkeeping blunder, but this was a turning point. The standard of keeping dramatically improving thereafter as all players warmed to the new 3 touch regime introduced for the grand return. Sky Blues faced the victorious Dark Blues in the second match with a line up heavily composed of defenders but no recognised forwards. Sky were; Ian H, John H, Phil, Dave Grazer Clark, Martin W, Geoff, Peter & Len. Inevitably this mismatch produced a straightforward win for the Dark Blues, their extra fire power too strong for the plucky Sky Blue boys. There was controversy with Steve Pitt halting play for the only time all night as Colin fell foul of the dreaded 4th touch. Imagine introducing 3 touch with so little difficulty. A questionable lofted pass was cleared for a Blue corner but the restart was dispatched to move the Blues to an unassailable lead.
In the finale Reds and Sky faced off to salvage something for their evening’s efforts. Sky struggled to create much in their opponent‘s final third, whereas Deggs set about a one man demolition of the Sky rearguard with his usual unfailing big toe poke. His hat trick was secured from the penalty spot following a contentious penalty decision. Play switched quickly but Referee Pitt spotted the hapless Grazer Clark venturing into his penalty area by virtue of his shadow (proper VAR).
At this point the Chairman politely asked about the referee’s head height as there had been some dispute in the build up to Clark‘s incursion into the area. Pitt waved away the appeal and strutted back to the centre field, his jackboots glistening under the spotlights. Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but we are claiming a moral victory Though we were soundly beaten on away goals! On a night of occasional confusion there was great quality all round. 3 touch was deemed a major success with no player struggling to adapt their approach. On some past occasions, hurried clearances have troubled the neighbouring Thatto Heath area, apart from a couple of ricochets the ball remained on the deck throughout the evening.
Well played everyone Have an enjoyable Easter, leave off the chocolate eggs and be ready for next Wednesday’s mountain climbing and planks.