OTFC Vets v Claygate Royals Vets, Saturday 20 January 2018
Old Tiffs 3 Claygate Royals 3
Scorers: Smith, Omo, Silva
- Dan Rose
- Simon Baile
- Simon Burton
- Pete Markham
- Pete Stephens
- Carl Naylor
- Trevor Huggins
- Jon Kent
- Luis Silva
- Bruce Houghton
- Ali Rawlinson
- Oscar Omo
- Nigel Sprunt
- Dave Smith
Coach Walker is always interested in learning more about his players and on Saturday he did.
Would one of the team be willing to turn out for the side having just run a half marathon that morning? (Answer, yes – if he is Carl Naylor.)
How long would the vets be able to keep a clean sheet with the two Petes playing centre back, the same Carl Naylor having retired with cramp? (Answer, 2 minutes).
Did one of the Tiffs players have an arm fetish, and got in trouble at work due to his inability to avoid stroking when a young female colleague was wearing a sleeveless top? (Answer, yes, and his name has been withheld for legal reasons – this only came out in the pub afterwards but it’s all good intel)
And finally, Walker learned the answer to this question; is it possible to cancel the match in the morning, then agree to a new venue and communicate to the team that it’s actually on after all, without anyone dropping out? (Answer, no it’s not – though a WhatsApp group would make life a lot easier)
Yes, it was an interesting Saturday morning for the team, who were stood down, stood back up again, and then stood their ground against a strong Claygate side, in difficult conditions.
One of the last minute changes of personnel as a result of the on-off-on nature of the fixture was Dan Rose, who came in in goal, freeing our usual goalie Dave Smith to play on pitch. Smith was so pleased he brought two mini crowd members to watch, but they were more interested in their ipads, and less in their father’s heroics.
Like the match at the same venue two weeks before, Claygate actually started the game the better team, and were encouraged by two or three half chances they created. But Tiffs drew first blood, and it was that man Smith who did the damage, a great run down the left and a cross for a tap in, 1-0 to Tiffs.
The goal acted as a shot in the arm for Tiffs, who seized the initiative and some great play again on the left saw Ali surge into the penalty area and cross for Oscar to convert, 2-0.
We should have had a third and probably put the game to bed too, when a great move again down the left was crossed for Smith to hit a great volley from the edge of the area. But our goal of the season was ruled out – wrongly we felt – for offside.
At the midway point in the half, Pete Markham was withdrawn for Pete Stephens, but Markham’s time as linesman was short-lived, when Naylor’s cramp got the better of him. Within two minutes of Markham’s re-entry, an almighty ball over the top alluded the back four, the communications leaving a bit to be desired between the defenders. Could the keeper have swept up behind? It was difficult to tell, but the result was a Claygate man reached the ball first and had time to control it in the area.
It was a desperate moment, and Markham’s slide tackle from a long way back caught plenty enough of the player for the ref to correctly award a penalty. This was converted, 2-1.
The Tiffs steadied the ship after that, and the 2-1 score at half-time remained until around the hour mark.
The second period was characterised by Old Tiffs struggle to get going from goal kicks, and time and again the ball came back at us, even if we won the first header in midfield. But sporadically we had breaks, forged through the hard work being done in midfield to dig out the ball. It was on one such occasion that the ball was won, and swiftly played through to Luis, who was away.
Approaching goal at an angle from the left, he picked out a beautiful lob whose trajectory was reminiscent of a Karel Poborsky goal in the Euro championships decades ago. It was a peach, and seemed a hammer blow for Claygate’s chances of getting back in the game.
We had another opportunity when Nigel was put through one on one, and he seemed to have done everything right tucking it past the keeper. But the shot drifted left and ended up hitting the outside of the post.
Back came Claygate and an attack built up on the edge of the Tiffs area saw the ball ping pong forward and back until a header from the D went over people’s heads and into that dangerous area between the six yard box and the penalty spot. A Royal was first to react and he scored easily, bring the score back to 2-3.
Whatever next? By this time Smith had scarpered, off to a children’s party where he was playing the part of the Kindest Giant in Town.
Equally kind, in his absence, were his team – to the opposition. Having gotten to a point in the game, with a few minutes left, it appeared Claygate might have run out of ideas.
As if to prove the point, another attack seemed to have foundered when an overhit pass went over everyone’s heads and Royals let out a sigh of frustration.
But wait… those Royal tears turned to cheers as the ball bounced once, twice and then slipped under the waiting gloves of Dan Rose in goal, for an excruciating equaliser.
There were barely a couple of minutes left at this stage and in the end it seemed a draw was a fair result, though it looked like a win was on for so long.