Sunday 16th September 2018
By Colin Mant
Seniors avoid falling victim to Dulwich-itis despite late casualties
Peter Harvey coined the term “Dulwich-itis” in the build-up to this game, the definition being an affliction to travelling around the south circular to the King's College Sports Ground in Dulwich Village. Despite the management team being missing, Pat away in North Wales and Mick still feeling unwell, we had fourteen players pre-game for Peter Harvey to arrange into a playing force. However, Peter’s prophetic phrase saw numbers dwindle overnight with Franco Petrozzi and Simon Thomas both having to drop out to leave us with twelve. We lined up as follows:
Phil Antony, Michael Hills, Colin Brazier;
Ian Lyons, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge;
Pete Harvey and Kypros Michael.
Sub: Colin Mant.
After three wins on the bounce our confidence was high. The trademark shape and passing from those games was in evidence and we were passing it well, staying patient and looking for openings. Some players may need extra work to become disciples of the three at the back system however, with Colin Brazier saying to me at a throw-in “I hate this three at the back lark”!! As the half went on Sanco’s mobile midfield pressed effectively, and they were overrunning the flanks. We were restricted to playing several long balls as we were denied the space to play shorter to feet.
We had enjoyed the lion's share of possession, but it didn’t prevent us falling behind on around 25 minutes. As play broke down the central defender was pulled out of position and with a deft flick around the corner, Sanco were in on goal. While there were two Sanco forwards bearing down, each deciding which one would put the ball in the net, there were three other Sanco players following in as we had not flooded back, as they had flooded forward. It was uncharacteristic given our defending this season and, although Jabbo gave his best efforts, the ball was bundled past him.
Obi came off for Colin for a straight swap on the half-hour. Sanco were really getting their teeth into us with their robust tackles and they had some good chances to go further ahead, but a new quality has emerged this season. When the bullets and muck are flying we aren’t prepared to buckle. We got a free-kick around twenty yards out in Peter Harvey territory. Peter seems to have had some coaching from Monty Panesar over the summer and has developed the ‘doosra’ free-kick, a ball that looks like an off-break, but goes the other way…you know, like Compo. Peter hit the ball and the confusing trajectory saw the ball skid through the keeper for a deserved equaliser.
Half-time came and Mick made it along to give us his thoughts. Special mention to Shoey at this point as he was supposed to shoot off home but stayed to avoid our number being further reduced.
It is fair to say that Sanco started the half stronger and they forced several corners in a ten-minute spell, in which we went behind to one of these. The ball was delivered deep to the far post and the rangy Sanco midfielder powered his header past Jabbo. On the hour Phil made way for Obi who took my slot in midfield, with me going to right back for Phil.
Despite going behind, we are keeping our belief in our play and we produced our best spell of football for the rest of the game, limiting Sanco to few forays forward. The game became more stretched and we began to commit more players into the gaps, although Kyp was abruptly reminded by Jay to climb out of their defender's pocket. Waine berated Lionel at one point for not making one run, but to be fair to Lionel he had literally worn a trench on the wing with his constant running up and down the line. The Strava results are available of his phenomenal efforts, on request, by emailing email@example.com!! Only joshing mate!
The ref, who admittedly did have a hard job from the many remonstrations from our players for fouls, handballs and other perceived transgressions, became grinchier with each appeal. We won a corner with about 15 minutes to go, which Jay attacked with venom, thumping his header into the far corner to bring us level again. With time running out we nearly won it, Peter shaking the post with a driven effort from a tight angle, with his weaker foot to boot. We could not break down the Sanco defence any further and with a world-weary blow, the ref ended the game.
While we have had games this season where we have dominated play, created more chances and played better overall, this was a game where we answered questions about our character. Sometimes you have to dig in and grind it out. This was such a game and we came through it. We’ll need exactly those qualities next up, at West Farleigh. Early indications though reveal that Dulwich-itis looks to be giving way to “Farleigh-itis” – another rare condition where the fevered patient is averse to travelling anywhere near Maidstone. We also usually suffer a nasty case of the “Deano’s”, where said monikered striker goes through our defence like a dose of the sh*ts.
In the bar we were treated to sausages, chips and bread, with an alternative course of pasta in a vegetable and meatball sauce for the health conscious. We won the bar, of course, but the absence of Pat the Buffet Slayer meant that lots of food was left over. Michael Hills was voted man of the match for marshalling our new back three formation, and snuffing out Sanco's attacking threat. He and Colin B. ensured their main man, Paul Burford, a former first-teamer with the Guild no less, was kept quiet.
Finally, we were all made aware of the news that our former manager and player Roger French had undergone heart surgery in the week. Indications were that all went well and we all send our wishes to Roger for a speedy recovery and hope to see him soon.
Man of the match: Michael Hills