OTFC IIIs 3-3 Reigatians Vs
The IIIs went into the game this weekend with a point to prove following the continued frustration of great performances but without any points to show for them. The warmup was strangely flat – playing on the only pitch in Priory Park not on the south face of Mount Reigate was a new feeling for most of the team. Sadly, any optimism that may have brought was quickly tempered when we were forced to start the game with 10 men (the Field brothers being nowhere to be seen).
Despite starting a man down and with a very makeshift defence Tiffs weren’t overawed and traded early blows with the opposition. After about 10 mins though Reigate started to make better use of the ball, and in particular the aerial presence of their big forwards. Despite some continued Tiffs resolute defending Reigate took an accurate pot-shot from outside the area and with the ball bobbling in the soft pitch Andy Johnston was unfortunately unable to quite gather it in safely and with everyone static the lively red-socked Reigate striker nipped in to make it 1-0.
To their great credit the OTFC players refused to let their heads drop and took the game back to Reigate with the impressive midfield quartet of Israel Nagore, Baptiste Reynaud, Austin Kugathas and Arnau Gimenez looking lively and using the football cleverly on the counter attack, ably supported by Guillermo “Origi” Guimera [OriGGi?] upfront. Some particularly nice play down the right from Gimenez, a creative outlet throughout, saw him square the ball for GG who sold the defender with a lovely turn only to sky the ball over the bar with only the keeper to beat. It undoubtedly took a bobble.
With both teams cancelling each other out OTFC were buoyed perhaps by the sight of the Field brothers finally arriving in the distance and surged forward once more. Some cunning mis-control from Bappo at the edge of the area allowed Israel “Lionel” Nagore to sweep a sweet strike into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the area to make it 1-1. Game on.
With Jack Field finally entering the match, a mere 25 minutes after kick off [Editor’s note: as kick off was 2.00 pm I estimate this meant it was 2.25 pm, which explains why the rest of the team was unimpressed with his ‘I thought kick off was 2.30 pm’ excuse], OTFC were able to adjust their formation, with Ciarán Morris returning to left midfield, following a strong cameo at left back, and Kugathas moving upfront to partner GG.
The majority of the rest of the first half saw the teams continue to trade blows with OTFC playing some nice passing football and Reigate looking strong when playing the direct ball to their powerful and creative strikers. With about 10 minutes left in the half Reigate pushed forward and grabbed the lead once more after a long ball was headed up into their air by the OTFC defence, before the striker with the red socks nudged it over Johnston in goal and headed it in on the line. A blow for Old Tiffs, but not at all to our discredit given the tough start to the game.
OTFC knew we needed a strong start to the second half, which is exactly what we got. Almost straight from kick off we regained control of the ball and fantastic interplay from Gimenez and Nagore culminated in a lovely one-two with Gimenez gliding in to the area to surely seal one of the OTFC goals of the season – or so we thought, the Catalan wizard had other ideas in mind though fooling everyone with a miscued shot/pass (obviously) which was instantly pounced upon by seemingly telepathically-linked Nagore. 2-2!
The game quickly settled into a similar pattern to the first, with both teams trading blows. OTFC arguably playing the nicer football with the midfield and attack all playing strongly, Kugathas and Ralph Field impressing on their season debuts for the IIIs. Reigate continued to look dangerous though with their aggressive, but largely fair (a throw in into GG’s back and a few late challenges aside!) play and direct football. Despite dealing with the threat commendably for most of the game the defence was undone for a third time following a long ball over the top with the Reigate striker giving Johnston no chance as he sealed an impressive hat-trick.
And so Tiffs were down for the third time, down but not out. Having fought so hard no one was willing to give the game up without a fight and so we went again. OTFC really took the game to Reigate with the midfield and attack continuing to link up well and look dangerous. Despite the nice passages of play we struggled to really test the keeper until Chris Harris linked up brilliantly with Morris down the left-hand side and squared the ball to Austin Kugathas (or Clinton to his friends) who took it upon himself to unleash a 30-yard howitzer which dipped wonderfully under the bar. 3‑3!
It really was anyone’s game with 10 minutes to go and like two tiring heavyweight boxers both teams continued to trade tired swipes, looking for that final knockout punch. Harris, Jack Field and Dan Jackson continued to look strong at the back whilst also playing the ball out nicely – allowing us to press at the other end, and even Mike Lutz got involved towards the end, making a strong block in the box to deny their striker a late winner [editor’s note: described as ‘heroic’ at the time, hopefully whoever make the comment feels suitably ashamed, it has probably already been engraved on Lutz’s ego temple].
With time running out OTFC mustered a final push and as Gimenez cut inside from the opposite wing to hit a lovely dipping strike everyone held their breath- would it drop in? Sadly no … but on balance a draw was probably the fair result. All in all a terrific effort from those involved and well done for getting the first point on the board. Onwards and upwards!
Israel Nagore took home the MOTM award, and one of the shirts as a memento. [Editor’s note: make sure you wash and return it, you only scored a brace]