Sunday 7th October 2018
By Mark Harrington
Birthday Boy Shipps them in.....
Squad: Gary Rosslee, Paul Tanton, Neil Pearce, Nigel Skeet, Matti Wright, Damien Preston, Dean Wyatt, Dean Murphy, Simon Davies, Jez Mooney, Steve Shippey, Mark Harrington, Frank Pearce, Dan Herbert
Manager: Marcus Allen.
Supporters: Joe Champ and Little Champ, Roger French, Harrison Wright.
Referree: Andy Cob
No win in three, questionable formations, ex-players and managers on a manhunt, no not Jose but Marcus. OK I’ll fess up I’m the ex-manager but despite public opinion I’ve never been on a manhunt.
It was another glorious day weather wise at Farrow Fields, which was surprising after the Saturday deluge that meant the lines on the pitch had to be repainted in the morning. A huge thank you to the ground staff for being up early to sort this for us.
So with huge amounts of noise (the return of Gary from holiday in the dressing room) what would the big man do to silence his critics or negate the threat of the dreaded vote of confidence? As much as he has been asking for the sack and I mean actually begging for it, we will not oblige so he just had to get on with it. So out came plan B, in other words “I’ve got to do it so I might as well do a good job”. Plan B was a continental 3 at the back with wing backs. The look on Tant and Damo’s faces when this formation was announced was a joy to behold. They were right behind the manager, with a large middle finger raised.
Anyway, we dispensed with the Frank Pearce warm-up as most feared this was a bad omen, in truth it usually knackers everyone out so we returned to firing shots at Gary. This did seem to work as from the word go we were all over our visitors and within 5 minutes we were 2-0 up courtesy of Steve Shippey scoring and setting up Damien for a tap-in that even he couldn’t miss. Shipps had a magnificent game on his 52nd birthday. Most of us feared the worst when he announced he would be out celebrating the night before however, like a true pro he was in fine fettle. Shipps and Jez, who had got out of his man flu bed to play never gave the oppo a minute's peace. Jez scored a well deserved goal himself and Shipps completed his hat-trick to make the half-time score 5-0. It was a hard scoreline on our visitors as they are a good team, play good football, are committed but always a fair bunch to play against.
The mood at half-time had changed. Marcus was smiling as he swapped Amazon shopping stories with Si Davies whilst complimenting Si on his magic wand of a foot. Well I think that was the conversation. Anyway, Si had another fine game in midfield and it’s a shame in the climax of the game we could not see him finish the job off with a shot of his own.
Just after half-time Damien slipped in number 6 for his second of the game before losing his handbag and having to be replaced by yours truly. Exactly 11 months to the day since my ACL operation I was back on the field in an outfield position. How would my timing be? How would the knee hold up? Would I be blowing after 2 minutes? Timing was as usual poor, knee was fine and yes, hurricane season upon us from my rear end. I should have scored twice before winning a penalty so usual service resumed. I had never been away. I really appreciated the warm welcome but not playing as a wing back! My team mates implored me to take the penalty but how could I deny the Forest Hill Flyer his moment of a first ever hat-trick. It was a great gesture from the lads to me and showed the camaraderie in the team but in truth, it was far better Damo missed rather than me. Well come on, it would do my confidence no end of harm if I missed in my first game back for two years and I would have even less material to write about! It was a well struck penalty but a good height and the oppo keeper guessed the right way to palm away.
Goals from Tant, another from Shipps and a well worked corner from Dean Murphy saw Frank Pearce win by a nose to head in at the far post. I think he must have been marked by that little fella ‘Nick Knack’ from the Bond movies as I cannot ever recall Frank scoring in the opponents' goal with a header. I have seen his score with a header but one for another day! In between, Gary was unfortunate when a shot hit the post and went in off his back and more unfortunate when, having not clobbered someone for 65 minutes, Frank couldn’t resist and was adjudged to have brought down his man from behind. Old habits die hard you could say. Gary’s first game back was not as easy as the scoreline suggests. A number of super saves prevented this match from being a closer affair and reminds us that we shall need to be on our game in the rematch in January.
We should not under estimate how good a performance this was against a good side. We always have good battles against Lads of the Village but we were so prolific in the first half there was little our oppo could do against the pace and power we had up front this weekend. The midfield were all over every loose ball like a tramp with a bag of chips. Both Deans chased every lost cause. Tant and Damo were great outlets whilst also not neglecting their defensive duties. The back three of Neil Pearce, Matti Wright and debutant Nigel Skeet, calm and composed. Other newbie ‘Young Dan’ albeit 35 looks younger than most of my work suits, came on to provide a great outlet and energy. The real compliments have to be saved for our forward line of Jez and birthday boy Steve Shippey. They set the tone from minute one chasing and hassling the oppo defence into mistakes resulting in at least 4 of the goals. Shipps finished with four goals and Jez one but for his efforts deserved more and we hope the sore ankle that forced him off heals quickly.
So the pressure was off, Marcus cannot resign and it would be rude of me not to remind him that last year we lost the first 3 games to then go on an 11 match winning streak. The result proved the players and the staff are right behind him. In mentioning the staff, the week started on a sour note when Leanne could not make the post match grub due to her 10 year old's birthday party at the club. Every cloud has a silver lining as the number of 10 year-olds at the club on Sunday raised the usual IQ level. Thankfully the ever dependable Mrs Tant came off the subs' bench to provide the rolls. Our own youth policy cheered us on in the form of usual impeccable ball boy Harrison Wright and little Champ. Little Champ was all over the half-time oranges and jelly babies so we concluded there is no need for a DNA test although, he only kicks with his right which raised eyebrows. Joe is recovering from a calf strain but we hope to have him back soon.
On the injury front, I hope to be able to play more and even better news is that big Jon Gasson has had his meniscus repaired last week and hopes to be back within 6 weeks. So much to cheer this weekend lads. Let’s carry this positive period into next week’s game, hopefully away to Old Colfeians.
A good week all.