OTFC Vets v Old Sutts Vets, Saturday 16 December 2017
Old Sutts 2 Old Tiffs 2
Scorers: Smith 2
- D Rose
- S Baile
- P Stephens
- P Markham
- C Naylor
- J Kent
- L Silva
- D Gardiner
- R Evelyn
- S Reid
- R Lee
- D Smith
There was a time in the distant past when many of these players were young, when the Little and Large show was one of the highlights of the Christmas schedule.
Tiffs and Suttonians vets put on their own Little and Large show on Saturday when the shortest and talent men on the pitch bagged a brace for each team and stole the headlines.
It wasn’t as amusing as the original – especially for Tiffs who conceded a late goal – but in its way, it was very entertaining.
In the lead-up to the game coach Walker was required to use all his improvisation skills to cope with a raft of absentees. The managerial magician conjured up a re-vamped team many did not see coming, with goalie Dave Smith leading the line up front, and in-form Dan Rose blooming in goal.
How would the patched up team fare? Not too badly it turned out in the opening half. At the back, Naylor was in sergeant major mode, marshalling the troops left, right and centre to resist Sutts attacks before they got going.
The wide midfielders – like it or not – were doing some sterling work protecting the fullbacks and the defence were getting to the ball first such that Rose, between the sticks, was rarely called into action despite Sutts having probably more of the possession.
Tiffs, playing on the break, were finding spaces and when after 20 minutes the ball ended up at the feet of former Chelsea legend Rob Lee, the oppo were in trouble. It was a situation designed for Rob’s unique skillset and he stroked a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of gallivanting striker Dave Smith.
Smith met it with the touch of an ardent lover and caressed it wide of the keeper into the right corner of the net. Whoops and much adoration for our makeshift striker, 1-0 to Ts.
Ten minutes later and he was at it again. This time a corner was swung in and he stooped to conquer, a header which was greeted by howls of distress from the Sutts defence.
Not everything went right for the big man. During the half a Tiffs free kick could have been swung into the Sutts box but was instead passed square to Smith. Using all he knows about taking goal kicks, he took a swing and the shot went about 10 feet over the opposition crossbar.
Still, let’s not be too harsh on him.
Walker has to make changes at half time. One was Evelyn who had not enjoyed effectively playing as a second full back when the opposition were in possession. But his good work had helped make it difficult for Sutts to gain a foothold.
In the second half we found ourselves dropping deeper. For 15 minutes there was an ebb and flow to the game, then a Sutts foray led to a goal. One of their strikers made a dart down the right, and his persistence and clever footwork made room for a cross.
Had Naylor won the defensive header it would have reached the halfway line at least. But Markham’s cleared to the edge of the box where Little was waiting, apparently unmarked. ‘I’ll sit on him’, someone had said at half-time, as Tiffs plotted how to defend the lead. There was no sitting happening at this moment unfortunately, and Sutts best player passed the ball into the net from 12 yards.
The goal encouraged Sutts to come on and encouraged Tiffs to play deeper. There were the occasional breaks for Tiffs, Smith leading the way with the odd jinking run. He hit the post on one occasion and on another, a shot rebounded to Evelyn (back on the pitch and in the area of it he prefers) but his forward momentum meant he wasn’t able to control the ball coming at him, and the half-chance went begging.
It looked like Tiffs might survive with a famous 2-1 victory. But then Little popped up again. He’d been mercurial playmaker and the marksman who’d shot Sutts back into the game, but still, what happened was unexpected.
Sutts had a corner. They’d brought a big man on up front as they chased the game, so there was him to deal with, plus Pete the Sutts centre back who’s a tall lad, plus various others. The ball is swung in, and blow me if the little fella doesn’t meet it with his head, unmarked, to score a second.
There were two minutes to go. “C’mon Sutts we haven’t won this yet,” cried one over-optimistic oppo player. And of course, they didn’t win it, because it was 2-2.
Looking at the league table later, Tiffs were third bottom. Had we held this lead, and the one against Hillingdon when we conceded in the last minute, we’d be top. It’s tight in this division. We’ll come back for more in the New Year.
Happy Christmas everyone.