Sunday 17th February 2019
By Mark Harrington
Venue: STC FC, Ivor Grove, New Eltham, SE9 6AD
Team: Gary Rosslee, Frank Pearce, Jon Gasson (Capt), Matti Wright, Joe Champ, Kevin Analuwa, Damien Preston, Paul Tanton, Simon Davies, Barry Grainger, Alan Fines, Mark Harrington, James Clarke, Steve Shippey.
So with Marcus away visiting friends in Scouse land, yes before you ask, Her Majesty does allow visiting hours at weekends in Liverpool. Seriously, I understand he was visiting a friend who has just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. A double celebration as it’s the only Scouser who has spent only 9 months inside! No stop it I hear you say, we are basking in warm footy weather and it’s not fair there are freezing temperatures in Liverpool this morning. Reports say it was so cold, a scouser was seen with his hands in his own pockets. Of course none of this is true but with two weeks off due to bad weather I was lacking in material so have had to stoop low. Sorry big man and look forward to you taking the reins back next week.
Every year at the end of January and beginning of February the weather seems to ruin our fixture list and increase the profits at Bluewater, this year has been no exception. The positive is that this always makes the numbers swell for the first fixture back after a few cancellations and we had 16 eager souls wishing to be on duty, this even taking into account a number of regulars missing like both Deans, Neil and Kerbs as well as Manager Marcus. Hopefully, with spring on the way the closest we come to Bluewater is perhaps playing Lads of the Village away again. Only joking! Anyway, 16 became 13 and then back to 14 as after graciously standing down, James Clarke made himself available after we lost Justin and Tom, maybe to shopping?
STC have always given us a good game. The last few clashes have seen two draws and a narrow win for the Guild so what would today bring under “Harri Ball”? I elected to sacrifice myself from playing and there were similarities with the Chelsea manager as we also had a grumpy old man on the sidelines trying to motivate and organise a bunch of talented yet temperamental players. I cannot really find any other similarities as Alan is more Akinfenwa than Hazard. Akinfineswa if you like.
Whilst the sun shone, the wind and muddy pitch made this a difficult encounter as there was no way of being able to play any type of passing game. Both teams' passes went astray and it made it difficult to control the ball. The only thing that did control the ball were the gardens that ran alongside the pitch. Numerous balls were lost to the neighbours' gardens. If we played with the same ball for longer than 10 minutes I would be surprised.
Chances for both teams came and went in the first half and one outstanding strike by Alan, a volley from the edge of the box, smacked against the right hand post and away for a throw. Perhaps if both goals were actually straight, then it may have gone in. Clearly the goals at STC act as a climbing frame during the week and even our vertically challenged keeper Gary could touch this crossbar, albeit he would have been three foot inside the goal line. Their keeper saved from Tant and Shipps but one last ditch tackle by James prevented the oppo from being one on one with Gary. On 30 minutes Damo took a break and Barry Grainger came on with Shipps moving to the right and Tant on the left. The remaining 15 minutes was very much like the first 30, we were on top but could not find the last pass despite the efforts of Si ‘Cyclops’ Davies. For those of you unaware, Si has just recovered from a nasty gardening injury, a prickly bush nearly taking his eye out. No bush jokes please and Si had a great game considering he was suffering from blurred vision.
So the half-time break came and we adjusted so that Joe could take up his usual spot at left back and James made way for Frank to move to right back and Matti Wright to join Jon Gasson at centre half. Our defence was outstanding against a good forward line but I must apologise to both James and Kevin as playing and managing proves us men cannot multi task. I came on for Kevin in midfield and running around gave me a memory lapse as I was meant to bring both players back on with 20 to go. A senior moment or committed to the cause? A bit of both but I am sure Marcus can correct the playing time for both next week. Sorry lads!
The second half was even harder with us kicking into the wind and any aerial balls just stayed up there and we found it hard to break. A free kick outside the box saw Matti Wright’s effort go straight in although, the referee blew for a foul on the defender when he was nowhere near the ball. Anyway, we cannot moan too much as a blatant penalty for the oppo was not given so these things even themselves up, albeit he gave us a free kick and allowed them to take it in the lead up to the foul. The referee was gracious enough to admit he had a moment and completely screwed up. He had a good game and one mistake can be forgiven as despite being involved with STC he controlled the game with a smile and impartiality.
This was a good battle and it was a shame the conditions ruined what would have no doubt been a better spectacle as both teams like to play good football. Unfortunately, Barry pulled a groin muscle in the second half trying to lay a ball through and no doubt the heavy pitch contributed to the injury. Hopefully, not too bad a strain and he will be back in action sooner rather than later.
This was not a game for our attackers, who must have found it frustrating as the ball would just not go forward enough in the second half. They were the better team in the second period where our defence and midfield were stretched but stood firm, they headed over and smacked the same post that is below sea level and so it was only right that the MOM votes went to one of the back four or the engine room in midfield. Jon Gasson and Si Davies shared the award equally with four votes each, Kevin, Frank, Matti Wright and Gary Rosslee picking up the remaining votes for their robustness.
This was our first draw this season and only the second time we have failed to score in a game but we could equally have been beaten in the second half so the recent run of undefeated games goes onto next week, away at Old Roan. Another tough fixture and hopefully the weather will be as sunny but less windy and the showers will have some warm water. It was the only time during the day we really woke up! Whilst the pitch, wind and showers were poor, the sarnies and the beer were excellent as well as the music in the bar although we raised a wry smile when “Paradise” by Coldplay came on……….at least someone had a sense of humour !
A good week all.
Man of the match: Jon Gasson and Si Davies