Another crisp Saturday afternoon at Grists. The pitch felt like a carpet after a fallow week previously. The silky white away kit was out and all 12 of the 3s players were raring to go. That was until the call came from the 2s on the other pitch that they were a man short and all of a sudden the 3s were back down to 11. Time to batten down the hatches, play smart, keep the ball and make the opposition do the running.
This plan worked wonderfully. The reunited midfield trio of Ben Harrison, fresh from his loan spell in New York, TWC (where have you been all season?) and Joe Yates looked to be winning the battle in the middle of the park. Balls were getting fired into Sam’s feet up top, wingers and midfielders flying past him and then WHOOSH…up went the imaginary linesman’s flag and the referee’s whistle screeched.
This would become a familiar theme from the 10th minute onwards. Both teams looked to play good football and release their forwards at every opportunity, but inevitably the referee had decided to play a particularly strict variation of the offside rule, much to the frustration and confusion of both teams.
Old Wokingians changed their game plan and decided to put the pressure on the returning Al Cunningham, playing at left back for Old Tiffs today. Al was over the moon about having a sub today as having recently returned from Japan, nursing a somewhat dodgy calf he was looking forward to easing back into Saturday football. Their tactic eventually paid off with the award of a penalty following a particularly innocuous sit-down style foul and the resulting penalty was converted. 0-1.
Old Tiffs stuck to their guns and continued to play though defence and midfield. The award of 3 or 4 corners kept the pressure building. Sam Edgar had a sighter which cannoned off an Old Wokingians defender. A few minutes later an uncharacteristic (editor’s note: very much characteristic) mistouch from Ben Lewis inadvertently sat up beautifully for both Sam and Joe Yates to take aim from just outside the box. Joe screamed for the ball but these pleas were ignored as Sam darted the ball across the keeper and in off the bottom of the post. 1-1 and half time.
No changes at half time and more of the same from Old Tiffs. More interestingly there was more of the same from the phantom linesman as Old Woking’s tactic of repeatedly putting the ball over the top for the striker to chase failed to bear fruit. Steve Newby and Tom Marshall held a brilliant line with Dicky and the aforementioned Al Cunningham, who had by this point turned into the team’s main creator. It was a wonderful pass from the marauding left back that freed the onrushing Joe Yates who wonderfully timed his run through on goal, before checking Sam wasn’t going to pinch this one off his toe, then smartly tucked the ball under the onrushing keeper. 2-1 to the Good Guys.
This was unfamiliar territory for the 3s so far this season. Taking a lead into the last quarter of the game. Legs were going, the Old Tiffs’ attack had dropped back into midfield, but everyone was up for the fight. The clock went past 80 minutes. Another few offside decisions passed and everyone was still moving. Still passing the ball and playing the Old Tiffs way.
The ball came down their right wing and the only man left with any gas in the tank was the ever present Ben Lewis…He tracked their fresh winger all the way back, the foul actually began about 6 foot outside the box but by the time their winger got into the box he was practically wearing the fired up Ben as a rucksack. Both fell to the ground. The referee wiped his glasses and whistled for the penalty. Devastation for Old Tiffs.
2-1 became 2-2 and with both teams drained the final few moments played out.
A valuable point for Old Tiffs but more importantly lots of positives to take from the game.
MOTM: Tom Whitehead-Clarke