Sunday 27th October 2019
By Mark Harrington
Squad: Mark Harrington, Gary McQueen, Joe Champ, Jon Gasson (Capt) , Neil Pearce, Si Davies, Paul Tanton, David Stanley, Dean Murphy, Alan Fines, Sean Blackwell, Damian Preston, Barry Grainger.
We had previously not had a match scheduled for this week and despite Tant chasing numerous opposition it looked likely we were going to have another week off. However, Inter Vyagra came to our rescue and as we had two pitches to choose from, we were happy to host. At this point a note of thanks to those opening up the club, manning the bar and Leanne for the food. Despite the downpour the pitch stood up well so a big thanks to Steve Viner for his pre-weekend groundsman work that ensured the game went ahead. The pitch had stood up remarkably well with no puddles and despite been a bit sticky you can see the summer hard work is paying off.
You would have thought with the joy of the game going ahead, an extra hour's kip and the knowledge that normally our opposition play our seniors, who have generally come out on top, we would turn on the style. Unfortunately, it was not only the clocks that went backwards this weekend. With Halloween on the horizon we truly put in a horror show. Normally you would say that if you win when playing badly it’s a good sign but we were so lacklustre, clumsy and off the pace we really gave our opposition every opportunity to build confidence. Yes we can point to a few being away, including goalkeeper Gary Rosslee but the squad is big and good enough to cope. So why were we so collectively poor? We could not put our finger on it and if only I had done that for their second goal it would not have evened up the score.
Our opposition gave us a warning in the early stages when breaking clear and firing a cross shot that this time, I did push away for a corner. Shortly after some chaotic defending between their centre back and keeper allowed Sean Blackwell to side-foot us in front. Alan Fines fired in for his first and then we fell asleep and allowed the opposition forward to race clear round yours truly and slot in. I’m not a regular keeper but have played in goal enough times to know that you get your body behind the ball. Unfortunately, poor technique added to the general malaise we all had meant that a shot I really should have saved squeezed under my body to draw our visitors level. Any local dog walkers would have learned much industrial language. Sorry fellas an error that could have been costly on another day.
Unfortunately, we lost Simon Davies to a groin injury, no doubt too much Greek hospitality on last week’s holiday. Si was replaced by Barry Grainger who immediately intercepted a poor pass and rolled us back in front. Hard on the opposition keeper as he had previously made a few good saves to keep his team in contention. Yes goalkeepers union and all that but full credit to Barry, who having only just entered the contest, was fully alert to the chance. So we went into the break in a lead but knowing we had not played anywhere near the level we can. Harsh words exchanged regarding if you hear a call react to it and the frostiness in the team didn’t end there. Chances were missed and our visitors didn’t make life easy for us so this all added to the frustration which we thought was over when Alan Fines added his second. Unfortunately, it was not and we continued to make mistake after mistake, stroll around like a practice session and argue with each other whilst also criticising every decision given by referee Paul Parsons, who had another excellent game. I think it tells a story when we are blaming everyone else for the poor performance when we should be looking in only one direction.
Alan was then taken from behind for a blatant penalty that he duly dispatched for his customary hat-trick. Another decision not missed by the man in black. Full credit to our opposition they did not give up, sit back and with a bit more luck or composure would have narrowed the score earlier than they did when their left winger ran free to place the ball over me into the goal. A cross field pass then saw Paul Tanton fouled on the right wing and from the resulting free kick, Dean Murphy placed an excellent cross which captain Jon Gasson thundered into the net with a fine header.
So we had scored six but whilst we have a goal threat, we cannot seem to cut out silly mistakes and are conceding far too many goals. We need to sharpen up as a team in this area. On the positive side, David Stanley made his debut and we have an excellent signing in David. Gary McQueen has only played a few games for us and today he was outstanding in defence. His tackling and distribution were excellent and one tackle, blocking the follow up from a save, prevented us from conceding. Gary was composed and tidy where chaos rained around him. Gary was rightly Man of the Match with five votes.
In the bar afterwards we knew we had got away with it. A poor performance with little quality and the aggression was misplaced. I suspect you thought I would not mention it…yes the handbags between two players on the same side was not great however, I’ll only say they were both man enough to shake hands and vote for each other in the bar afterwards. Whether those who witnessed this girly scrap think they were man enough at the time was another matter! Anyway, I will not name the duo whose collars got hot but only to say that is was hardly Joshua versus Ruiz II. In all seriousness, not something we want to see but the response by both Alan and Dean was excellent. All forgotten now. Sorry couldn’t resist even if I have with any jokes about our visitors' club name. That would just not stand up and be a poor climax to this report.
Away at the buffet laden Riverside Wanderers next week. No need for a packed lunch with the Five Bells around.
A good week all.
Man of the match: Gary McQueen