OTFC IIIs 2-0 Reigatians Vs
Another week, another chance for goals and glory. The IIIs arrived at Grist’s on a very chilly and windy morning but feeling the warmth of back to back wins for the first time this season. Confidence was high, even though the enthusiasm was not in regards to getting out of the chunky knitwear and long-johns pre-match, mainly demonstrated by Ben Williams getting changed into his kit followed by putting back on his clothes. Rituals of the modern day footballer.
Once out onto the pitch for the warm up and with the sun making a very welcome appearance, Tiffs were ready to embark on what could be a third straight win. They say that bad things come in threes and this was the third time in four weeks that this fixture has been played between Tiffs and Reigate, rivalling the IVs clashes with Old Wokingians.
Captain Ciaran Morris named a strong starting line-up. Laurence Hinton kept his place in goal following recent strong performances. Across the back we had a returning George Mitchell to partner Dan Hogg at CB supported by LB of Ed ‘goals’ Whitehouse and Dan Jackson at RB. In-front of a solid back four we had Williams and Bappo Reynaud holding the middle with Israel Nagore and Ciaran ‘Captain’ Morris on either side. Up top, fresh from his goal the week prior, was Lewis Baister alongside Tom Myatt. League top goal scorer Aaron Langford and Chris ‘I only play against Reigate’ Harris were on the bench.
The game started well for Tiffs, who controlled from kick-off. An early chance came OTFC’s way when Jackson floated a ball to the back post which Morris brought down but lost control over only for Williams to rush onto the loose ball which was rapidly rolling out of play but he could only push his shot onto the base of the post. An early sign of intent from Tiffs. Controlled play and some good defending kept it close before Tiffs made the breakthrough from the most in-form man in a purple shirt at present. Great work down the left saw rapid interchanging play between Whitehouse, Morris, Reynaud and Myatt with the ball, via a defender’s leg, breaking back to Whitehouse who from the corner of the box (after some advice from Langford on the sideline) found the far top right hand corner with an excellent finish. That made it goals in consecutive games for Whitehouse. 1-0 and in control.
Shortly after Tiffs almost made it 2-0. A direct free-kick from around 30 yards was hit by Whitehouse, clearly brimming with confidence he struck his low effort past both the wall and keeper only to find the wrong half of the post. This seemed to be a wake-up call for Reigate, who sprung into life and had a number of chances on the break which were expertly denied on two occasions by Hinton who was commanding and fast off his line to preserve the 1-0 lead. Some unorthodox bodychecks from Mitchell were found to be just as effective in protecting our dominance. After a quick double substitution (Langford for Myatt, Harris for Jackson) Tiffs aimed to quieten down the Reigate threat. Just before half-time an off the ball incident saw a coming together of Baister and one of the smaller Reigatians, which resulted in violent conduct (head-butt!) which was missed by the referee and understandably angered Baister. The upshot was that Baister left the field to be replaced by Myatt and his assailant was similarly subbed. Half time ensued and a regroup of the great football we had been playing was in order to rise above the obnoxious and antagonistic Reigate tactics.
Into the second half and Tiffs picked up where they had left off before the break with some good movement and chances early on. Williams and Langford linked up well with the latter ghosting onto a through ball and forcing the keeper into make a smart stop. Morris and Williams both had semi-acrobatic efforts on goal but were unable to double the lead. A moment of terribly poor sportsmanship from Reigate was demonstrated by bringing the head-butter back onto the pitch to continue the game as normal.
Tiffs once again were able to rise above and put the game to bed. Morris picked a delightful (!) pass into the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ knowing that this is where Langford has thrived in recent games. After managing to bring the ball down between the covering defender and oncoming keeper, Langford was able to move the ball to the right, outmuscle the last defender and calmly roll the ball into the empty net from around 35 yards*. With the game in the bag, Tiffs could and should have made it 3-0 when great work down the left from Reynaud and Whitehouse ended up with the latter whipping in a magnificent cross which just evaded Langford and Williams, though the former should have put it away.
The final whistle went and Tiffs had secured a third straight victory in all competitions and back to back in the league. Many great individual performances around the pitch, which culminated in Hinton picking up the MOTM award for his impressive first half display to keep us ahead, but the team effort was the factor that won the game for Tiffs and sees them rise up to 6th, just nine points from top spot.