With Christmas just round the corner the Old Tiffs vets were in generous mood in the early minutes. Wandsworth hadn’t really mustered an attack when a free kick was swung into the box and former Old Tiff first team skipper, now Wandsworth Borough vet John Atkinson got a light contact on it but enough to divert the ball low into the corner. A gift for the opposition, in the form of an early goal.
But Tiffs played their way into the game, and showed some good composure on the ball. We started to create chances, one falling to last week’s hero Craig Walker. But having bounded through he hit the underside of the bar, and the ball bounced out again.
Later a cross from the impressive Simon Baile dipped invitingly for Warren Arlow to head in from three yards out. Wazza – remembering everything Pele taught him – headed it into the ground, but he’d misjudged the angle. It bounced up and onto the underside again, from where it was cleared.
Steve Moodley, the left back, scored Tiffs’ equaliser, and a fine effort it was too, blasted from outside the area, due in no small part to a hefty deflection but who was arguing?
The vets had deserved at least parity and that was how the first half finished.
The report shouldn’t proceed without a nod to Simon Baile’s entertaining attempts to deal with a ball close to the touchline, with no-one close to him. It’s hard to describe, but it seemed like he had the ball under control with one foot, before tackling himself with the other.
It was a moment to lift the mood in a game which was fractious, the notion it was a friendly just before Christmas lost on several of the participants. Petty squabbles flared up, with some rather odd appeals against decisions from Wandsworth players at the root of several of these.
In the second half Tiffs, who had finished the first period in the ascendancy, took the lead. Michael Barnett, motivated by a brilliant pep talk from Markham, drove forward impressively. He was clipped as he shaped to shoot, but regained his footing and let fly a shot which was missing the keeper’s left hand post. The football gods smiled though, as a second deflection helped the ball past the Borough keeper and into the net for 2-1.
With 25 to go, Wandsworth equalised, their youthful striker scoring from what several Tiffs players felt was an offside position. Carl Naylor, who likes to play his football with a snarl on his face, was particularly aggrieved, yelling ‘cheat’ at the opposition scorer, before going in heavy in the next challenge as a way of letting off steam.
There was more action to come though. Dave Gardiner, who again put in a good stint, made himself some space before hitting a dipper from the edge of the area which beat the keeper, and put Tiffs in front again, 3-2.
Borough switched around their attack, and Tiffs switched around their full backs. Whether these were critical decisions who knows? But that young chappy up front for Wandsworth got to the by-line and his arcing cross was met at the far stick, for an equaliser late on.
Still an enjoyable game, and an entertaining one. Happy Christmas to all.