You can tell Winter is a coming. Our Chairman made all those present line up at the start and do some warm up exercises to get some life into a group of cold (and old) bones.
The numerical odd numbers were adjusted to by asking the Reds to play one extra in the first half, then play for the Blues in the second half. Could the Reds make their early advantage tell, or would the Blues stay in the game then take advantage in the later stages?
The first half was, just about, honours even. Some spirited and canny defending - particularly by Jeff and John E - kept the Blues at bay despite being stretched by Wayne, Alan and Les; and Joe and Steve made sure there was always an out ball.
But the pressure did tell and two good finishes by Mike Harrison gave Reds a 2-0 advantage at the break. He could have had two more but for the hitherto unknown defensive qualities of Hawkins’ right knee.
Blues’ spirits were then lifted by the discovery that they wouldn’t have to face hot-shot Harrison in the second half as he was the player to switch sides. But rather than the cool and collected approach Reds took in the first half, Blues’ passing and movement was often too rushed and frantic.
Eventually the extra man told and a clinical finish by John Eden halved the deficit. It might have been 2-2 but for some remarkable goal keeping by Les who, faced with a chip shot from Colin, followed the advice of Little Anthony and the Imperials (see title!) and chose to head the ball clear from under his own bar rather than get his hands dirty.
Stunned by this unorthodox but effective display of net-minding Blues lost concentration and allowed the ever-pressing Tom to restore Red’s two goal advantage. The situation would have been worse but for another Brighton supporter’s knee, David stopping an almost certain 4th goal.
Now then, have you ever gone away and seen your team attempt to hold on to a lead in the last 10 minutes whilst you get extra nervous as they drop ever deeper and deeper? Almost every team in that situation does it and the Reds were no exception. So deep in fact that Blues’ second goal was as a result of a defender trespassing into the box; Mike H converting the penalty for his 3rd goal of the game. Then; despite the canny game management of Phil, Martin and Andy and the referee counting down the minutes, Blues finally managed to calm down, put some passing together and set up John E for the goal that finally brought them level.
It was then all hands to the pump as Blues went in search of a very late winner but Reds hung on for the draw; a fair and honourable result for both teams; and a great morning’s entertainment. That’s the sort of stuff that will bring the crowds back!! Oh………hang on……..