Mens 4’s – a good battle against league leaders Leatherhead (1-3)

AndrewM Match reports, Men's 4th xi

Right, here we go again for the second half of the season. Since meeting Leatherhead 1’s in the first game of the season, they have gone on to being clear league leaders with 9 wins out of 11, 54 goals scored and making them top scorers in all SOHL league system. So we knew today would be a challenge.  Our training for this epic game started 7 days ago, with a curry in the Epsom Balti House (or whatever it’s now called) and despite the reviews (which we ignored) the food was great, cobra flowed (until Syd noticed Rob having been force fed a cheeky one) and a great night out by what has become a great squad of players.  Apparently there was also training on Thrs night, but when I saw some guy called Noah building an ark, I decided it was too wet and stayed indoors for the evening.

Injuries played their part before the game, with Jamie Perkins spraining or perhaps even breaking his wrist (photo evidence was sent on facebook) in some freak accident involving (a) a team sportl or (b) personal training – answers on a postcard please.  The injury bug also caught Matt Smith, who was nursing his ill family and pulled out of the game – come back next week, we miss you both !

Now as said before, Leatherhead are top of league for good reason, and we were put under pressure from start to finish. But we held it together in the first half, with equal pressure and admittedly against the flow of play, broke forward and after some good passing in the D by Dan (what! – has he not scored recently?) and Jack Rengger, saw Jack turn his player and roll the ball over the line for 1-0 up – hooray!!   At the other end, Tom Walters kept us in the game with some great saves (winning him a voted and well deserved  MOM by the 10 or so players who came back for teas – good effort guys) and especially noted when Rob Pringle decided to come forward, leaving his man in about 50 yards of clear space behind him. Not a problem until the ball came back to his man who had about 10 minutes to line up the shot, have a cup of tea, pose for photo’s, take a big back swing, and see his shot saved again by Tom – ha.  So 1-0 it stayed at half time.

Going into 2nd half, and much of the same – increased pressure from Leatherhead, and we defended hard but eventually something or someone had to give, and the ball was passed by Kris (don’t worry Kris, no one noticed) to their attacking line who passed the ball back round Kris, past Tom and into the goal.  To be fair, as a team we were not giving the defence much options out, so a team failing here. Further epic saves from Tom kept the score down,  we battled really hard, and this with a pitch resembling  more of an ice-rink at times,  and felling most of us at some stage, but most noticeably  Rob Pringle who looking more like a scene out of Bambi on Ice, slipped once, bounced up, slipped again and took the ball off the side line. Earned him a nice TFC, and saved Maj the blushes as yet again he was last out of the showers, by a long way……

Work effort continued, and a great performance and determination from all. After failing to keep up with their no 44 all game (and who even out run our own Mazza / roadrunner on a few occasions) I decided it was time to come off, and replaced myself with Jack D. Now I would at this stage like to put in a formal complaint on ageism grounds, as last week I heard someone shout ‘mark 87, the geezer with the grey hair’ (must redo the just for men), and this week as I came off their supporters shouted ‘watch out youth coming on!’ which implies to me that some old guy is coming off…… It’s just not fair, but then again chances are I will forget this ever happened by tomorrow anyway. Where were we, oh yes a match report. I will continue.

OK, so Leatherhead did score another two in the second half; but when you lose, score is not important. We should really take a lot of positives from this game – many teams have been battered by Leatherhead, and we held our own for much of the game, were winning at one point and indeed did fight back and equalise, even if it did not count.  Actually this needs special mention, as after failing to score more than about 1 or perhaps 2 short corners all season, I handed the baton onto Rengger junior, and have to say that his short corner routines were well planned, well executed by the forward line and it actually worked – Jack scored again, or would have done if their defender had not accidently kicked it as it was crossing the line.  Seems our P Flick routines are worse than short corners, and we were denied the equaliser which may have changed the game. It didn’t go in, and we lost, but hey we now have a plan on how to score short corners – lets execute this again next week.

Result aside, a good game guys, we showed good determination and good effort against a hard opposition, and let’s not forget they are a 1st 11 team. We are improving each week, and if we met next year (unlikely) I think we would have our revenge.

Many would say that the best thing about bringing young players into the team, is the enjoyment of seeing them progress at pace, learn each week, and start to be the key members of the team. True, but for me, it is the sheer delight for us oldies to increase our vocabulary with words and phrases with mean one thing to us (and the oxford dictionary), but quite a different thing to the U18’s with their very own language and ‘street talk’. I had the pleasure of being demonstrated the latest phrase by Tom Walters whilst collecting my tea’s back at the clubhouse.  If you want to ask what it was, please see a youngster – for now I will keep it coded.  Til next week.  Steve.