A wedding, three injured players and Khaj not being as good as Tom Scott, sees the Old Tiffinian 3rd XI once again low on players as they go into the home game of their second leg fixture against Witan IIs, who, upon last meeting (in classic fashion this season), Tiffs fought bravely in a nail biting match that went down to the wire, and were unlucky to come away with a 1-2 loss.
A wedding originally drawing a decline from the winning form of 3s Captain Dan Hogg, but that quickly fell apart, as he couldn’t be bothered to go to and instead opted to get the ‘30 pieces of silver’ fine, and join the match day squad for the Tiffs 5th XI team. This left the 3s in the hands of Vice-captain Joe Yates, who, having torn up the Ibiza strip, doing lines of coke off of strippers and shuffling until 8 in the morning on his mid-season holiday, had missed the previous week’s 3-0 victory over Woking.
His immediate thoughts directing to his CAM position, where James Khajenouri had assumed the mantle, claiming himself a hat trick in the previous match, and staking a bold claim in the WhatsApp group that the 3s had found themselves a new regular in that position. But secondly, to the outlandish formation played by his superior of 4-4-1-1, and not the 4-2-3-1 that had been a Tiffs’ regular all season, so far utilising the 15 CMs we have at hand.
Starting “strong”, Tiffs immediately began suiting themselves up in the wrong changing rooms, and turning on team sweet heart Jez Eggar who pointed this out. Familiarising themselves with the traitors of other Tiffs teams who had responded to the call for players bolstering the 3s bench, including the 7th keeper of the season, debutant Andy Hale, who, along with left back Jono, assumed Tiffs’ traditions straight off the bat by turning up late and getting changed on the side-lines while everyone else warmed up.
After a kale smoothie, a rabies shot and a 4 hour sauna-stretching session in the morning, Khaj was doing everything to try and get out of the self-imposed Tom Scott shadow looming over him. He enforced a warm up and got out the dreaded cones out that resulted in many players getting press-up flash backs from previous weeks.
Limber and confident on the form displayed by the new players in the warm-up, the team gathered round for the team sheet. Yates stepped up, stating in classic Mike Bassett fashion that they’d be “returning to the [scorned] formation of 4-2 fucking 3-1”, to which no one really batted an eye at, and thought that the profanity was a bit extreme for a team talk.
The injured winger Tom Flynn had been put on the team-sheet for the game, despite clicking decline on the invite as the Gaffer wasn’t taking any of his pussy-injury acts, stating “you can get off the field, but only when I say you can”. Well, the warm-up proved too much for him, and he was handed the duffle coat/clipboard combo to assume in Ryan Giggs fashion, the coach position on the side-line.
Kicking off the match straight off the bat, Andy Hale made his mark as the new keeper on the block, with a huge, big-balls clearance, clattering into the Witan winger and injuring the fella 2 minutes in. A welcome site in Saturday leagues…a keeper off of his line, not the injury which are a plenty.
Tiffs played strong football for the first half with link up play and marauding runs at the Witan left back from Tiffs winger Owen Kirk, but to no avail. The pre-game scouting of the ginger ponytail centre back proved correct, as he regularly disrupted the attacking movements of 4s traitors – Lambourn and Dwyer.
The first goal for Witan came from a long ball over the top that, on a dodgy bounce (get the groundsman in) sailed over the quick off-the-line Hale, and saw the Glenn Murray-esque CF slot the ball away. An unlucky start that Tiffs didn’t take to heart, as their superior fitness won out the rest of the first half, with the team going all out at the CMs and full backs of Witan. A few unlucky chances from Dwyer and Kirk sailing over the bar saw the Ts wishing for more in the half-time break.
Much like the first 10 minutes of the game, the Ts were subject to an onslaught from Witan again at the start of the 2nd half, as a new edition to their rarely seen front 3 appeared to have glue on his boots as even with many a tackle put in, Tiffs just couldn’t bring the ball away from his feet. The result of this was unfortunate. With a cross from the left-hand side, and Glen Murray drawing attention from Ts’ gorgeous right back, leaving the winger free at the back post for an easy tap in.
The second half went on much like the first, with Ts’ fitness allowing the blitzing of Witan’s waning back line, which finally came through when a free kick was conceded on the right hand side of the pitch. Knocked in by the stand-in 1s CB Ollie to the back post saw a mad scramble for the ball as it went flying off the posts, keeper and other players, until captain Yates saw an opening 2 yards out and blasted the ball in to the back of the net.
The further onslaught of the 3s attack came through again when Dwyer, cutting in from the right, was clipped for a penalty. Some people, like Ollie, say it was a little soft and more people, like Ollie, also say that Joe Yates didn’t look like he was going to score, when standing over the ball…
The 3s captain swatted away fantasy league point poachers looking to take the penalty and catch on current league leader, Zac Efron (in physique and handsomeness) look alike, Eggar. A dead ball expert, from corners and free kicks, Yates seemed a sound option, only for him to strike it low and reachable for the keeper to swat the ball out. A huge opportunity missed, and he shall not forget it.
A third goal from a corner for Witan came when someone lost their man, and the ball was slotted in to the bottom corner. Who’s assignment was blown has yet to be revealed as yells from the ever vocal Hale, who was watching his debut performance result in 3 goals conceded, fell on stunned faces and silence from Tiffs.
The game ended 1-3 Witan, thoroughly deserved by them who were the better team on the day.
MOTM – Andy Hale