OTFC IVs 1–2 Brent IIs
It was always going to be an close call between Brent, who were second in the league, and OTFC, who just came off of the back of a close, undeserved defeat against league leaders, Whitgift IIs. OTFC had a point to prove that they have what it takes to translate their dominating possession football into wins against even the strongest teams in the league.
OTFC started the match strong and calmly – linking well between the midfielders and quickly adapting to an uneven and sodden away pitch. It was immediately apparent that Brent were having to rely heavily on their quick strikers to lead their offensive counter attacks as a main form of their defense; however, solid defensive work from OTFC’s back four – Mark Lomas, Steve Newby, Mike Lutz and captain Charlie Hughes – were able to neutralise their early threats.
The barrage of counter attacks by Brent continued, and they eventually managed to score after a lucky break from one of their strikers.
0 – 1 (20 mins)
OTFC did not seem fazed by the score line, and continued playing with the same calm demeanour that they started the match with. Low and behold, OTFC was straight back in to the game after Tom Myatt scored a wonderful overhead kick from a stray bouncing ball in the 18-yard box – all starting from quick calculated movement between the midfielders Baptiste Reynaud, Ben Lamble and Simon Titcombe. If only the referee had a GoPro strapped to his head to replay the goal …
1 – 1 (25 mins)
The first half ended as a draw, so it was still anybody’s game. It was a poor performance by the referee who made very questionable decisions at times. During half time, Brent brought on more of their attacking substitutes.
Recharged, both teams looked fired up and the tempo of the game began to increase. Brent’s weakness in defense was becoming more apparent, as their gangly central defenders looked shaky on the ball at times. However, Brent were still managing to slide passes to their strikers who were then able to comfortably keep the ball within OTFC’s half of the pitch. As a result, supply to OTFC’s strikers, Myatt and Chris Bhamra, were increasingly getting cut off. Myatt positioned himself more deeply in the field to try and improve the linkage between midfield and strikers in an increasingly crowded centre. Lamble and Reynaud made vital challenges in the centre of the park, but Brent were quick to close down any through balls that these two creative maestros planned to release.
Newby and Hughes commanded the centre of defence, and calmly intercepted any imminent threats that came from Brent’s strikers. Lomas seemed to be everywhere on the pitch by second half – helping the flow of in the centre of midfield but was always back in defense in time to make the kind of sliding challenges that Tony Adams would be proud of.
Injuries were starting to pop up in the OTFC camp (Andre Knuchel-Takano succumbed to bilateral calf cramps; Bhamra was stamped on the metatarsals; and Newby was dealt a hard knock on the knee.), but with no substitutes available on the day, OTFC resorted to a more compact formation to mitigate the risk of opening up any further weaknesses.
One of Brent’s wingers whipped in an unexpected curling cross from just outside the 18-yard box, and one of their strikers managed to make contact with the ball in the far corner, resulting in a goal.
1 – 2 (70 mins)
Towards the end of the match, one of their strikers made a gormless, two-footed slide tackle on OTFC’s captain – which could have resulted in serious injury. To OTFC’s dismay, the referee decided not to even caution the guilty offender – sending out a very clear message. Nevertheless, OTFC shook the incident off and hustled right to the final whistle. Another goal from OTFC’s camp never came.
All in all we witnessed a valiant performance from OTFC, who were unlucky not to have come away with a draw. 2-1 was not a fair scoreline.
Special mentions go to Mark Lomas (awarded the Man of the Match) for his impressive defensive work, and Nader Meradji for his numerous fine saves in goal.
Brent’s captain came over after the match to say that OTFC was the strongest team they’d played against this season. The boys will be sure to learn from this experience, and go all in on the next match, a well-anticipated cup-tie against their old nemesis Wokingian VIIIs … The saga continues…