Announcements of “it’s a strong squad” didn’t go any way to ease the nerves as OTFC assembled at the wetlands just outside Dulwich. Last time out OTFC 2s lined up with arguably their strongest side of the season only to allow 8 goals go by against league strugglers Clapham. The good news though was the presence of not one but two Tommos on the team sheet – having bagged a double hattrick at this very ground two season ago, the 2s were looking for 12 from the “Tommo combo” as a baseline. In a further canny bit of business, captain Dicky Bostelmann had negotiated a brief one match loan spell for keeper Seb Rose. Seb arrived a vision in green… something the wetlands of Dulwich it seemed had taken exception to.
Confusion started early as an incoherent groundsman berated OTFC for 1. Warming up on the pitch and 2. Speaking to each other. Nevertheless after a sideline warm up OTFC finally lined up on the pitch, not that pitch, the other pitch, next to the pitch that isn’t the pitch. Bizarrely Old Grantonians, faced with three choices, had chosen the one pitch that already resembled a marsh. Well one half was. OTFC started on solid ground whilst the oppo kicked off already knee deep.
OTFC started off strong in both possession and territory. A first half of very few chances for the opposition and a number of missed opportunities for OTFC. Half time – as yet we hadn’t conceded and had had the run of play. 0-0.
Second half and OTFC started where they had left off, with possession and free flowing football… two goals in quick succession Tommo and John on the score sheet and only 10 mins played. Evidently playing out of the mud suited the OTFC strikers, the benefit of a true bounce and a ball that rolled clearly working to our advantage. 2-0. Unfortunately, in contrary… the oppo seemed to prefer the mud. At this point the OTFC defence bored with the flowing football upfront and in midfield, decided on a classic kids game of stuck-in-the-mud™ and played this valiantly as the oppo man mountain striker neatly and delicately slipped and slided the ball through the mud and into our goal… twice… 2-2.
Heads might have started to drop, but OTFC were again making use of the solid ground up front and once again we found ourselves in front. 3-2.
At this point despite a number of substitutions OTFC were starting to tire. Short passing game now severely hindered by the sticky brown stuff. Old Grantonians however seemed to understand how to benefit. A cross flew across the six yard box only to stop dead by their strikers feet, Seb unsuccessful in his gallant attempt to wallow the ball away. 3-3. Our defensive high line in perfect unison caught only by a referee keeping his distance to the game presumably to ensure his feet didn’t get dirty. OFFSIDE!!! Nope… 3-4.
And that’s how it remained for the next 20 minutes, OTFC were staring at another out-of-character defeat. Play confined now to the centre of the pitch, scrappy, bitty and above all muddy. No meaningful possession for either side despite Luke and Alex tirelessly breaking down possession. 84 minutes now gone and all the halftime talk of playing the ball to feet, keeping the passing simple working the ball forward in steps went out the window. Route one, Dave and John neatly negotiating the offside trap and three goals in six minutes. 6-4… winners.
John Edwards’s first game back from a life threatening stroll up a mountain ended in a deserved MOTM – Left foot, Right foot, Head (and two assists)…