The Committee's protection money ensured today's Ruskin session went ahead despite the intervention of hailstones prior to and after the games. 21 players and a good sprinkling of on watchers were blessed with decent conditions and better football than might have been expected if we had listened to the BBC weather wizard's words of doom. With Coach Davies missing the Chairman carried out a vigorous warm up session that was intense and not too long winded. Alex ensured that Securicor looked after the subs money, whilst Michaylo completed the documentation.
Moneyball was called up on to select 3 reasonably even sides and by and large got it right. With just one game returning a one sided contest and that in the day's last action.
Game 1 pitched Orange and Red in a very even affair, indeed so even that neither side could produce a goal.
The teams were:
Orange; Tony, Andy, Len, Nigel, Jeff, Dave Grazer C and Wayne
Red: Alex, John H, Tom, David H, Steve R, Mike A and Steve F
Blue; Bryan, Phil, Mick, Les, Martin W, Alan and Joe
Red faced Blues in the second match, a similarly tight game, with both sides playing expansive football but unable to find a winner until Tom swooped to intercept in midfield and with a great composure found the net with a fine effort. Mick probed throughout for a reply forcing a smart save from Alex, before Joe fired a good effort against an upright when put through by Mick. Blue enjoyed good possession but had to settle for a narrow defeat 1-0 to the Reds. The margin of defeat could have been wider but for an uncharacteristic profligacy by Reds in front of goal.
So far so good Moneyball delivering even contests with a spread of skillful play by all teams.
There's some work to do on improving player communication, which Coach Davies will be sure to work on in his next sessions. Too often players are in good positions but fail to give a teammate a call to let them know their freedom. 'Put a name on the pass' encouraged the Chairman but often chances were spurned through that lack of positional awareness. Some great play is wasted as a consequence. But generally there's an all round improvement and with it a higher level of enjoyment. There are smiles on faces, as we say in the Auld Country 'the craic was mighty'.
Goals by Wayne and David H were the highlights of the interim matches. Chris arrived with our version of hospitality and Chairman and Son enjoy the play from the luxury of our very own hospitality suite, commenting that it was closer to the action than Wigan Athletic's whilst the fare (chip butties) was not quite as good! We were served up a splendid effort from David H finishing a free kick dropped off by Tom. Andy endured a frustrating spell that included a great chest trap and then skyward half volley. John H bested the keeper with a smart drive, but narrowly wide of the post. Martin (Chopper) W put in a reducer that Referee Pitt would have surely punished? Alex was ice cool with timely tackles in the Reds rearguard. Some good entertainment for our very own prawn sandwich brigade with their chip butties!
The final match was an epic contest with Reds facing Orange, the two best sides (thanks to Speedo Mick for pointing that dubious claim out). He did ask that we explained his narrow boat is currently moored nearby and not on Cote d'Azur at Mecano. Andy produced two fine saves to quell the rampant Reds but Steve F wasn't to be denied grabbing 2 smart goals including a superb effort under immense pressure from Nigel and Grazer. Dave Grazer Clark hit the deck in this effort but from his own GBH attempt on teammate Nigel. Steve F rounded off his hat trick with an unstoppable effort that settle the entire session. 'Steve is on fire your defence is terrified' sang no one at all, perhaps Chopper could add it to the next Social Evening's Set List? If we ever manage to have another Social Event of course. If we only had a Social Secretary.
As Michaylo brought proceedings to their conclusion we learnt that some of our party was off for their vaccinations. A Jab Alert to end the morning. Well played one and all.