Following the late rally in the marshes a few weeks back against Old Grantonians, where Old Tiffs recovered a 3-4 deficit to win 6-4 with just 6 minutes to go, we returned to Grists for the reverse fixture after overturning another late deficit away in Woking.
The main word from the pundits pre-match was simple – what was the biggest deficit OTFC could overturn, with the smallest amount of time remaining?
A much-depleted squad was the first issue to contend with; first-choice goalkeeper Tom Nichols away again allowed Dan Rose returned to the side between the sticks. With player-manager Bostelmann also away, and vice captain Will Forsyth suffering back spasms at the mere thought of moving more than 10 yards, caretaker boss Luke Peake took the reigns and had one big job. Find a makeshift centre half to replace “Le Tom” who was away on a mid-season holiday.
His first thought to defend the aerial onslaught was to stick Charlie Mortimer at the back – unfortunately a media leak meant Charlie was all too aware of the cunning plan, and mysteriously had to stay at a kids party with his daughter until after kick-off.
A disheartened Peake trudged back to his former home at the heart of defence, to which he’d sworn he would never return. With the makeshift team, the message at the start was clear – keep it tight, and get a feel for the game before working our way in. As usual, the Purps flat out ignored these instructions and were miraculously ahead inside 30 seconds, with a well-worked one-touch move finding Benedict in space at the edge of the box to coolly slot home. A fine goal, and a fine start to the match.
The rest of the first half was much the same, with Colin and Ben in particular having a lot of joy on the left flank – however our final ball was letting us down, and about 24,000 chances later Colin sent in a fine cross which the oppo defender could only chest into his own net, with Tommo lurking menacingly at the back post.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2s game without conceding a sloppy goal, and after giving the ball away cheaply in midfield for their only real chance of the half, a cross-come-shot flicked off the far post for their right winger to tap in unopposed. Half time we went in at 2-1, having dominated the game and deserving much more.
Half-time the messages remained the same – keep the ball on the deck, and whoever scored the next goal would be key. With Peake giddy on the power of captaincy, withdrew goalscorer Benedict and threw on Mortimer in the centre of midfield to shore things up and start attacks from deep.
As it turns out, we were right – the next goal was pretty crucial. It gave us a 2-goal lead, then 3, then 4, then… An 8-1 final score was much-deserved, and with some better finishing it really could have been anything up to 15. Instead of hitting the back of the net, our attackers were too busy trying to assist each other via the woodwork. 2nd half highlights included a majestic chip from Tommo as an early contender for goal of the season, a Bettis brace, a rare appearance on the scoresheet for Al Hollamby, and Benedict netting his 2nd in injury time to round off a MOTM performance.
Just 5 points off the Champions League places and a third win on the trot, the 2s are once again finding form at the right time of the season – we couldn’t do it again, could we?