Having pulled together a strong squad of 14 regulars, it was in the hands of mother nature…
Pitch inspection was carried out and the ground was deemed to be a difficult playing surface, but playable! As both 1s and 2s were at the mighty Grist’s, 2s were appointed the smaller pavilion ground, not ideal, but… Game on…
Captain Guar-Dicky-ola took an unfamiliar formation to ensure the midfield was packed full, 3-3-2-2 designed to ensure a possession game, a back three with two wingers eitherside of our now regular Kuldeep in the holding midfield role, with a diamond linking Will to our two front men. Past games have seen fantastic performances in midfield, but haven’t lead to the service Dave and Thommo need to ensure goals. Ambitious, but on a small pitch, worth a shout.
The game started with skipper Dicky winning the toss… A switch of ends and we were off. Formation took a few minutes to get used to, a couple of scares down our flanks and OTFC IIs started to take control of the pitch, Kuldeep, James and Will mixing it with a far larger more physical presence from the John Fisher central partnership. Henry and Gary taking the opportunity to make use of the space left by outnumbering the oppo’s centre, proving to be difficult to handle when they found the space to exploit. Slowly OTFC became ready to seize the initiative. After soaking up a spell of oppo pressure, it was a long throw from the right side, the ball ricocheted, Thommo pounced, 1-0… OTFC on their way.
OTFC remained in control, the opposition had possession, but not threatening and not in long spells. To then concede was frustrating, even more so from a cross/deflection that looped over ‘keeper Ralph and into the very top corner. Gutted. big push lads. And we did! In our best 25 min spell all season we tracked well, bossed the midfield took chances that paid off and the back 3 remained solid and a platform for 2 goals in quick succession. Team goals finished brilliantly by Dave and Gary.
Whistle went for half time.
The second half started with some good pressure from John Fisher, we soaked it up well, Ralph making a fantastic save from a shot from nothing.
Somehow, John Fisher started to find their feet, not in possession, but in chances, for 20 mins they had the run of the waterlogged pitch and put 2 goals past us, nightmare… 3-3 and against the run of the match.
Then, the until then almost faultless ref struck. Pen… despite the ball being off the pitch and without a scoring opportunity. 4-3 down.
The last 15 was all OTFC but we couldn’t take our chances.
Another loss from a winning position, OTFC IIs need to close out a match (that or only play for 60 mins).
Despite his unassuming nature, Kuldeep ensured the midfield was arranged and organised in front of him across the 90 mins MOTM performance unanimously voted for.