Sunday 13th January 2019
By Mark Harrington
Power Rangers too much for Guild
Team: Gary Rosslee, Frank Pearce, Mark Harrington (Capt), Neil Pearce, Joe Champ, Dean Wyatt, Dean Murphy, Damien Preston, Paul Tanton, Barry Grainger, Alan Fines, Tom Naughton, James Clarke, Jason Miller.
Ref: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Usually I write the match report immediately after the game so I do not forget anything therefore, I have left it 24 hours for two reasons namely 1) to try and forget everything and 2) to not spoil the enjoyment of seeing the mighty reds ‘thrash’ Spurs at Wembley. Ok not a thrashing at Wembley we saved that for Farrow Fields.
Buoyed by our first home game since 7th Oct 1945, a strong 16 available and a good relaxing evening out with Mrs H seeing the Stan and Ollie film, I fully expected us to deliver. Unfortunately, over night we dropped to 14, almost 13 but eventually Jason arrived to see a hurried change of plan. I joked to Mrs H before the film started the reasons for me polishing off the popcorn and Pick n Mix in that this would ‘give me energy’ and all said with a look of expectancy (wink wink). She replied that if it was a decent warm up I wanted then she suggested a few shuttle runs and plenty of stretching. Talk about a dry January.
Anyway, I am sure you’ll all be familiar with the Stan & Ollie (Laurel & Hardy) story of a couple of bungling guys trying their best but absolutely useless in everything they do. Any resemblance to Sunday’s performance is purely coincidental and just because we had a fat bloke and skinny bloke partnering in defence is also purely fortuitous. Who am I kidding?! Everything we tried to do was hapless, well especially in the second half and as well as Laurel on Hardy on show, the Keystone Cops provided good back up.
It is hard to see why our second half performances over the last few weeks have been so disappointing. Are we still suffering from a lack of match fitness? Now getting too old? The surroundings unfamiliar to us? Who knows but there was nothing in the first 45 minutes to really separate the sides, well except a fortunate cross or shot that was wind assisted and looped over Gary to give our visitors a 0-1 half-time lead. We had a couple of chances of our own when Barry Grainger was first to react to a free kick the oppo keeper couldn’t hold on to but he made amends with a fine save at Barry’s feet. Alan did a ‘Bergkamp’ turn around a defender and narrowly shot wide and so it was a fairly even first 45 minutes and nothing to suggest we would finish with the scoreline we did.
We were all positive at half-time and with fresh legs in the shape of Tom, James and Jason to enter the contest, we had reason to believe we could recover the deficit. It was not to be and virtually straight from the kick off our visitors won a fortunate corner, which their ‘big fella’ headed down for it to be turned over the line, despite attempts by the ‘Keystone Cops’ on the line trying to clear it ended up in the back of the net. We very much missed our own ‘big fella’ in the shape of Jon Gasson who had gone off to watch Spurs, so he didn’t miss out on a miserable day! No doubt big Jon would have had a good battle with the ‘human step ladder’. Size 15 feet I am told by my team mates, which wrapped around a few of us during the contest. Funniest line of the day came when after his 8th or 9th foul his team mate apologised with the excuse “he is just not a midfielder”. Oh that’s OK I don’t mind a broken leg then! As captain, I felt the need to protect my players and after a number of fouls, the most savage on me, I decided to question his fairness and after a ‘polite’ debate we agreed he clearly needs to be careful where he places his gigantic plates of meat. In the bar afterwards I was mocked for the defence of my team mates with the usual “put your handbag down skipper” and whilst defending my reaction, it occurred to me that perhaps the reason for our loss was evident during this exchange, whilst some looked away like nothing happened others (no names mentioned Marcus and Damien) adjusted their panty lines and queried what they were cooking this afternoon. I understand the Allen household were treated to a nice lamb shank when I thought chicken was more appropriate. At least something had a backbone on Sunday! Anyway, my faith was restored in our battling qualities as there was the Downham Destroyer, Frank Pearce, to restore what little faith I had in us having some fight. You know who your mates are in times like this!
So did the half time oranges and Jelly Babies get some special treatment from our oppo? They are sponsored by the University of Greenwich so perhaps the chemistry dept aided their cause? No, there were no dark arts at work in this contest, we were beaten by the better team in the second 45 minutes and we shall continue to get rolled over if we only turn out for 45 minutes. I would usually look for some positives but it’s hard to find any. The third goal was a shot that took a deflection off yours truly and ended up in the net, it was going in anyway, well what else am I going to say? The fourth goal was Laurel and Hardy or AKA Jason and Gary at their finest. We always try to not overplay and unfortunately, we did in our own third and we were closed down and the short pass from Jason and the clearance from Gary ricocheted off their player and onto the bar and fell nicely for their striker to head in on the line. He will never score an easier goal and it was pure comic genius and the only thing missing was Gary commenting “well that’s another fine mess you've gotten me into Jason”. Goal five was not much better when again possession was lost in our final third, Gary gave us some brief respite but the ball fell to an unmarked striker who side-footed in from 12 yards, just past the attempts of our man on the line.
We didn’t really trouble the oppo keeper in the second half and struggled to get up and down the pitch so it was never going to be a repeat of last year’s amazing 5-4 victory, when we came from 0-4 down. I think we could have played all day and not scored and we tried too many flicks and tricks against a strong side. Keep it simple was the last thing on our minds and we really have to get back to basics. There is not a five goal gap in class between the teams, unless we perform like Sunday when even an average team would have been difficult to beat. Movement, passing, control, heading and communication was poor but other than that, it was alright! So we have not scored in our last two games, conceded 8 and performances not good but we have another opportunity to correct next week albeit in another difficult game against a young Wickham Park side. At least we are home and whilst I joked about the pitch last week, I have to be equal and say that the surface played well yesterday. Thanks to all who worked on the pitch especially, Gary who did many tasks on the day and also to Leanne for the post-match grub which all went. The sarnie plates were the only clean things we kept all day.
So probably out of pity or maybe guilt, I was man of the match with 12 votes. It just goes to show how bad we were when a bloke plays in defence that concedes 5, scores an own goal and still wins MOM! In fact, the other three votes went to two colleagues in our back four so despite conceding 5 goals, you can quite clearly see where we need to improve boys!
Final nod goes to the excellent Paul Parsons for his refereeing of the match. Never one to shy away from commenting on a ref's performance, I shall not this time other than to do so in an unusually complimentary manner. Paul had a great game and kept excellent control of the match. Decisions were firm and fair and all players agreed he got almost everything right; well…….except for not disallowing our oppo’s five goals! Thanks Paul.
Man of the match: Mark Harrington