A sub-zero windchill made conditions really testing for our Wednesday night session at windy Sutton Leisure. Another great turnout meant that one 11 a side game was held to ensure everyone got a full match and no one was left standing around in the cold, except this hardy reporter and this week’s pundit Alain McKie (c’est vrai). Using our usual pitch but filled with 22 was a compromise of course and at times led to scrappy play with too many bodies crammed into the middle of the area. But there was real quality too.
The Blues; Michaylo, Mike A, Ian B, Mick, Phil, Les, John H, Geoff, Martin W and Chris
The Yellows; Steve, Joe, Len, Colin, Ian H, Deggsy, Tony, Martin W and Andy
The opening exchanges were scrappy and trying as both sides sought to establish their style of play on their opponents. “Early doors it’s been scrappy” Declared McKie summing up the opening minutes with his full repartee of cliches. The first goal after just 3 minutes saw Ian B collect a short corner and dispatch a finely-placed effort into the far corner past stricken Andy, who surely was expecting a cannon ball but in the end was wrong footed by the deftly placed finish. 1-nil to Blues. The lead was spectacularly doubled (albeit briefly) when Mick headed a pass through for Chris to lash into the far corner. Referee Pitt rightly wiped out the fine effort and was soon in action again to rule out a goal from Joe who hit a good shot from wide out on the right flank, the ball again taking an extra-arial route to the net. One could sense that Yellows were growing in confidence and exerting a greater control on play as the half moved on. Lee went close with a drive, Deggsy shot aimlessly but the inevitable goal came when Ian H latched on to a loose ball in midfield and advanced to unleash a screamer past Michaylo, 1-1 and all to play for.
As play moved through to the break there was a passage of untidy play with both sides struggling to create clear cut chances. Taking notes last night picked up the constant drone of the wind, it was a chilling experience. Credit to both sides for the constant barrage of help and encouragement being vented, with Lee Speight words of comfort to Deggsy “just hit it” perhaps the quote of the night. Half time and all square 1-1.
The second half followed the familiar pattern, frantic play at times lit up by pieces of pure magic. Deggsy was cautioned for constant moanin’ and complainin’ – indiscipline that he’d later regret. Ian B produced a little magic to carve open a chance which Chris dispatched into the far corner 2-1 to Blues.
Play continued to ebb and flow from end to end with Yellows exerting some pressure on Michaylo’s net through a series of free kicks close to the Blues area. There really needs to be a rethink about free kicks so close to the area, so many times a promising position led to nothing as the defenders stifled the opposition. Lee narrowly missed the target Ian H had a couple of efforts blocked before Deggsy conceded the night’s most obvious foul for a blatant push on Hawkins J. From the melee following the free kick Ian H finally pounced to drill a fine goal that might have been deflected on its way past Michaylo. 2-2 and we could have a grandstand finish. The Blues were presented with a powerplay opportunity as Deggsy took up the goalkeeper’s gloves with time running out. “He’s usually good for a goal or two” said our Pundit. He was soon proved correct as Chris fired in from wide out the shot ending high in the far corner of Taylor’s net. Pitt explained he was satisfied the goal had not exceeded head height, Deggsy was less convinced but 3-2 to Blues with plenty of time left.
Len was wide with a shot that Michaylo spilled when the effort was wide. Yellows failed to utilise Martin B when he was wide open on goal. The Pundit suggested a crash course for the hapless cockney emigree Briggs, in Northern – “ay up lad I’m free” or “giz us da fecking ball” As time passed there followed the night’s most controversial segment with Deggsy lofting his distributing pass from the floor despite clear shout from Colin “don’t kick it, don’t kick it!” Pitt awarded a free kick outside the box, and Deggsy kicked the ball away in show of petulance. The resulting Blue Card was almost inevitable from any time after half time. Blues pressed for another goal to seal the win, but wayward shooting and blanket defending by the Yellows relieved the pressure. Yellows reduced to 10 pushed for an equaliser but were thwarted by resolute Blue defending and a fortuitous save by Michaylo who in truth knew little about his save. The game descended in the last minute with Referee Pitt called upon to explain the ruling regarding goalkeeper clearances.
It was a difficult night in extreme weather conditions, but 22 hearty souls survived to play another day (or night)
Well done to all.
Special note to congratulate our newer players Mike Andrews and Len McGrail for their efforts. Great work from the usual suspects. As our Pundit put it “it wasn’t a night for purists, no room, 3 touches and too tight” but well done everyone!