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Sun 4th November 2012 - Shield
Lea Hall 3 V 2 U17
Pitch :
Match Report

Today we took on Lea Hall in a Spudulike Shield match hoping to make it three wins on the trot following our nerve-racking victory in the Mister Clutch Cup last week where Punch and Judy’s half time team talk almost turned it around for our opponents. With Carl’s blood pressure now back down to boiling point we were able to choose from a squad of 15 players although this number has yet to be officially verified by Eleanor! For this tough encounter coaches Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick named the usual crew at the back of Pugh Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb, a magical midfield of Dougal, Florence, Ermintrude and Zebedee with Bungle and Zippy up front. With Freeman, Hardy and Willis on the bench we had players who could easily step in other people’s shoes.


The lads were backed by a very healthy away following in a crowd of anywhere between 38 and 45 people with anyone who is anyone in attendance plus Rai and Steve. Andy Mewis who has an almost photographic memory for names took control of the linesman’s flag for the first half and we started the game kicking from right to left on a sticky pitch in cold, dank November conditions. In the distance Rugeley Power station billowed out its fumes like a giant cloud-making machine as we settled down for the game and admired the volume of Carl’s pitch side encouragement.


Much to our delight the opening ten minutes saw a performance which must have had Pete purring with pleasure which I’m sure is a very pleasant sound indeed. Both Olly and Matthew put in dangerous early crosses, James tried an audacious chip which was saved and Josh hit a beautiful curling shot that looked a goal all the way before hitting the post. Woody was again a revelation in midfield as we dominated possession with a series of neat passing moves. It looked however as if our superiority would not pay dividends until Elliot played a brilliant ball into Pavan's path. Our languid play maker took the ball in his stride, drew the keeper with some neat moonwalking moves and confidently slotted the ball home to send the away supporters into raptures. We almost doubled the score moments later when the impressive partnership of Alex and Pavan produced a cross into the box which Captain Sam headed just over.


Sadly we then took our foot off the pedal and carelessly allowed Lea Hall to equalise in spite of Mat the Cat’s brave efforts. We responded immediately however and Woody had two shots blocked before Pavan thumped another effort over the bar. The pressure continued and we got our reward when Alex powered in a cross from the left hand side which the keeper could only palm into his own net to make it 2-1 to us. As half time approached we looked the more likely team to score but we then shot ourselves in the foot again allowing a second equaliser due to more sloppy defending. To our credit we kept our heads and we were incredibly unlucky not to snatch the lead back on the stroke of half time when Woody hit the post. As the whistle blew we had to settle for 2-2 and we were wondering if we had somehow offended Lady Luck bearing in mind we had hit the post on two occasions and played the better football. If we could survive Pinky and Perky’s half-time pep talk we could still win this we thought…


The half time break seemed longer than usual but a marching band, cheerleaders; red arrows fly past and an impromptu concert by last years X Factor winners “Little Mix” kept us reasonably entertained. Drummer Briggs took over as linesman for the second half and he wielded his mighty flag with proud military precision befitting a man who has recently graduated from linesman’s school with honours. No doubt his fellow student Rai will be champing at the bit to take his turn in the next match!



Half time saw the introduction of new boy Rich and Nick, freshly bronzed by his recent holiday to Egypt. (Those of you with sharp hearing might have heard me mention that we were going away) The second half was very even with both sides having chances to take the lead. New striker Rich gave us a physical presence and he made his mark when he chased down a long ball which allowed Keelan to test their keeper.  Pavan then crossed  into the box but we didn’t get anyone into the area to take advantage.  Unfortunately we were inexplicably giving their star midfielder the freedom of the park and as the game wore on we looked more and more tired. Elliot did manage to produce one almighty tackle on their talisman but our opponent recovered to deal our hopes of victory a fatal blow minutes later, when he rode three rather tired tackles to put us 2-3 down. Things almost got worse when Nick had to clear a shot off the line and you could sense the energy draining from our players in spite of a spate of substitutions. To be fair we never gave up and both Josh and Alex went close to equalisers but is was not to be. The final score remained 2-3 and if I didn’t avoid clichés like the plague I’d say we somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but as I say, I avoid clichés!


As the players gathered under the tree of shame they were no doubt told that they should have won this game. However I thought some of our first half football was a delight to watch and it’s clear that we are beginning to gel as a team and are no longer looking like eleven strangers.  Sadly we ran out of steam in the second half and failed to nullify the effects of their best player which ultimately cost us the victory our performance deserved. Overall I feel the omens are good and I remain confident success is just around the corner if we keep working hard and maybe improve our fitness levels. For the record Woody won his second man of the match award for his all action performance, well done mate!


We do not have a game next Sunday which will hopefully mean you will all attend the Gate at 5.00 to watch Drummer Briggs perform with the Strangers. Don’t worry if you can’t make it, Rob won’t mind drumming his little heart out until his fingers bleed and he’s physically sick on stage while you lounge around bloated and sleepy from your Sunday lunch. I would however urge you to postpone the ironing, have an early dinner and put Strictly Come Dancing on tape and get yourselves down there to support Ringo especially as he promises not to sing. I’m going to get Carl to send all those who don’t show up one of his trademark e mails so you’ve been warned!


The Desert Shadow


PS When we were away my eldest son told us that our dishwasher had broken but you’ll be relieved to know that when we got home it was working perfectly. I do however have loads of ironing to do although I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or anything like that, really there’s no need….


Finally, if anyone has been affected by any of the issues raised in this match report please contact me on www.thedecisionmaker.co.uk.cotton

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