Sunday 24th March 2019
By Mark Harrington
Even a hat-trick does not get you man of the match. What a tough crowd….
Well what a week it has been, the club has been embroiled in an unsavoury or really should it be a savoury affair? Pizzagate rocked the Guild to its core and a dominoes affect literally went through the club. Chairman Danny could not have envisaged such a situation when he took over and only Theresa May could probably only know how he feels. We young vets have never been treated to such fine dining as our senior colleagues but every disagreement has two sides, a verbal Calzone if you like. The amount written over the past week from the prosecution and also in the defence makes Brexit look like a schoolyard squabble. We certainly agree the club must make enough dough and we are all trying to earn a crust for the coffers. Post-match hospitality is always one that the Guild have never shirked from and nor should we. It is part of being a good host and there is only one oppo who beats us in this area and that is Riverside Wanderers who put on a buffet fit for an evening wedding reception although, there is mushroom for improvement our end. I understand this will be high on the agenda at the next committee meeting. Cesc Fabregas has denied being involved and no slices were thrown although, if it were at our manager it is a big target to be fair.
Anyway, enough on the pre-match conversation that almost topped Marcus’s tactical master plan speech. Sorry just can't stop the pizza jokes (credit to Gary Rosslee for some material, he is a fungi). We all resisted the obvious play in triangles comment and set about a game that is always a close contest between the sides. The returning Jez Mooney was put out on the right with Al and Tant forming what turned out to be a deadly partnership. In the first 5 minutes we stroked the ball around and I cannot remember the opposition getting close to us. One move only finished when an overhit pass went through to the keeper but it must have included 30 passes without reply and so we had much to be pleased about in the early exchanges especially, when Jez went past his marker and put a sublime cross that Alan only had to get a foot on to side-foot home. After 22 minutes Jez made way for Robin, this was the tactical master plan Marcus employed. Save him for the second half when tiring legs came into play. The tactics worked a treat but no one told us that once Jez went off we should not take our foot off the gas. This we did and allowed Farleigh back into the game, for some reason we went quiet, the legs didn’t press as high as before and a ball out wide was then squared for the forward to run on an place pass Gary for a deserved equaliser. We only had ourselves to blame and to make matters worse, Rhino (who looked way too fresh for a man who the night before had a party at the club for his upcoming 40th, felt the force of a challenge and had to be replaced by Kevin as his ankle was twisted. More injury woes before half-time when Matti Wright over stretched and pulled his groin. The player will remain nameless but rather unfair to remind Matti that it was probably as a result of his shot which is no doubt still going and a shout of “fore” was heard on High Elms Golf Club.
So we were again down to the bare bones and Al was not moving freely as a combination of hamstring and knee were giving him some problems. We wish all the players a speedy recovery as well as Damien who sat out to rest his dodgy hammy and Justin, who declared himself unfit to play after injuring his buttock last week. Get well soon fellas. Anyway, at half-time we spoke about making more noise and more efforts in the ‘press’ and to just make the second half a much improved display. Would Marcus’s tactics work? Jez returned and he and the whole of his fellow midfield of Kevin, Si and Robin did exactly as instructed. They were immense in the second half and two minutes in, Si collected the ball, turned and beat one man, shifted onto his left leg and let fly from 20 or 25 yards and whilst the keeper will feel he should have done better, his manager certainly did, could only push it into his own net for a 2-1 lead to the Guild. This goal seemed to energise us even more and Tant put us 3-1 up with a simple tap-in after a square pass from Alan. We counter-attacked at will as our defence repelled any attacks, and a super through ball from Capt Jon Gasson saw Tant return the favour and Al tucked away into the bottom left hand corner, despite his injuries. The ball is a wonderful medicine.
Their manager commented that if an outfield player has a bad game they get replaced and so he decided to do so with his keeper. He put a giant of a man in from the back line and the previous custodian was left to run the line. Almost immediately the new keeper dropped a simple ball at Tant’s feet and he did the rest by walking the goal into the back of the empty net. It was a funny moment when the Farleigh manager asked his first choice, why was he not in goal? Good to see you never lose your sense of humour, even in defeat.
So Marcus' tactics were working a treat and Jez was causing mayhem all over the pitch. He was also found defending in our own box and releasing players and then seen running the length of the pitch to appear alongside them! Jez has not played in weeks and this was an all action performance, sadly for Jez it didn’t result in any goals but a number of chances created for others was impressive. I am sure it will not be long before Jez climbs the goal chart but for now, a few of us will enjoy being a few up on him! I think I’ve only mentioned this twice today!
Tant turned and rolled in number 5 and then completed his hat-trick with a customary 3 yard finish. How many times is he in the right place at the right time? This is not by chance but having a good football brain, a number looked on in disbelief at this bar comment by yours truly and I was left to defend myself when questioned if I knew Tant was a Millwall fan. Some called it an oxymoron.
The day did not start well as we arrived to see us being robbed of our usual changing room, perhaps we should remain in room number 4? Games against Farleigh are always tight and this was a great second half performance. Man of the match was going to be difficult as a number stood out, mainly in midfield. Joe played as left winger until Matti’s injury and put over some fine crosses and hit a shot with his standing right foot that just went past the post, Kevin again tackled and won anything that moved, Si was impressive in threading balls through and Robin also pressed hard and helped launch attacks. Tant’s hat-trick sadly did not get him the MOM but who could deny Jez with his energetic and selfless performance? Jez has missed weeks but he looked thin and crisp, so he won out with 5 votes to Tant’s 4, Si and Kevin obtained 2 each. I promise that is the last pizza reference.
We finished the game with 9 and two limping forwards and so injuries have taken their toll and with it being Mother's day next week, we cannot guarantee a side but we shall do our best. Away to Bird in Hand at Perry Street where we can hopefully avenge a narrow defeat last November. We had a few glasses to wash down the rolls courtesy of Leanne’s Catering and all in budget. Even sharing the excess with the rest of the Club. So thanks to Leanne for the food but also to Gary for doing new lines, putting the nets on and just about everything else! Additionally, this article cannot forget the excellent officiating by Paul Parsons. Not only were we commenting on a fine performance but so did our oppo and even when that correctly did not go their way, complimented Paul on a ‘Play on’ advantage at one point. ‘Excellent ref’ was the comment heard as we attacked.
So enjoy your week and if you are having pizza, spare a thought for the club.
Man of the match: Jez Mooney