Old Tiffs Vets 4 Croxley Vets 1
Scorers: Sprunt 2, Barnett, Silva
- Keri Ryan
- Pete Stephens
- Pete Markham
- Carl Naylor
- Simon Baile
- Bruce Houghton
- Dave Harry
- Michael Barnett
- Luis Silva
- Ricky Evelyn
- Steve Reid
- Rob Lee
- Nigel Sprunt
Memories are not the sharpest among the vets. When you get to their age who can blame them, with a squad whose aggregate years total over a millennium?
But even so, this convincing win made it three victories in a row, and no-one can recall the last time that happened.
This win was hard earned, and for a long time the game was in the balance.
Tiffs opted to play into the sun in the first half and they found themselves pinned back. Croxley were up for the physical battle and looked better than their league record suggested.
They were winning more than their fair share in midfield and using the territorial advantage to put the Tiffs defence under pressure, especially in the air from throw-ins, corners and free kicks.
When we did piece together the odd move on the break, we looked like we may cause trouble but in the first 30 minutes these chances were few and far between.
Then an attack, a build up and a proper execution. Luis foxes and feints on the edge of the area, but seeing no sure way through, passes across the D to Dave Harry, who is central. Mike Barnett is arriving on the overlap on the left and Dave Harry sees him.
Mike takes the pass and chips deliciously. Time seems to stop, the goalie looks up, and the ball drops over his head into the far corner of the net. 1-0, great goal.
At half time Keri, who’d done a terrific stint between the posts, joined the action on pitch and Dave Harry took over in goal. Bruce went off injured so our midfield was anchored by Michael and Luis.
The re-jigged Tiffs team were more dominant than their first half equivalents, aided by the sun in the eyes of the oppo, and some more good finishing.
Around the 55 minute mark, before Croxley could get a head of steam up, they were 2-0 down. A ball was played down the right, long and bouncing. Enter the new, hustling and bustling Nigel Sprunt, who strong armed the defender off the ball before lofting a beautiful lob over the keeper from an angle out on the right.
Croxley were wobbling at this stage, fed up after a run of defeats and seeing it happening again. Their mood wasn’t improved when Nigel, who’d got the hang of this lobbing lark, hoisted a speculative one up there from 30 odd yards a few minutes later. In it went for 3-0.
The oppo were conducting sporadic raids of their own but were being smothered. Luis and Mike were doing some good defensive work and overall the defence and keeper looked comfortable enough.
The 3-0 score line bred a bit of complacency though and we became a bit loose, with spaces appearing in our midfield and rearguard. A ball was out of play but Croxley played to the whistle (there was none) and quickly got the ball across the box. Pete Stephens, who overall had an excellent contribution, was caught napping and the Croxley man slammed it past Dave Harry, 3-1.
There was no comeback on the cards though. A few minutes later another breakaway, the unlikely ball carrier being the redoubtable Carl Naylor who was 20 yards ahead of his team mates and attacking the back pedalling defender.
Markham, who had a goal a game record going into this one ( if you only take into account the previous game), was sprinting through the middle but Naylor drove at goal himself and was hauled down. Inside or outside the box? Inside, just, ruled the ref. Penalty.
Keri Ryan was hoping to take the pen. Then Nigel Sprunt had hopes of grabbing the ball, what with him being on a hat trick and all.
Earlier in the game Naylor had yelled ‘Carl’s ball’ when Simon Baile was running with it, then dispossessed his real life next door neighbour and looked furious when Baile was confused.
So clearly Naylor was in a determined mood, and when Ryan and Sprunt realised he wanted to take it, they did the sensible thing.
Up stepped the centre back. There could only be one outcome surely. Bang, he thudded the penalty goal wards, straight down the middle. But the keeper wasn’t one for diving so he was there, but only to pat it back.
There’s a saying in football, or if there isn’t there ought to be. If you can’t take a good penalty, take a good rebound.
Did Naylor do this? No, he most certainly did not.
The ball bounces, it seems like Carl is on the edge of the six yard box and the goalie is down, exhausted by his first save. There’s a few ways to score here, it’s 4-1 no doubt.
But inexplicably, the ball goes high over the bar. Carl did see the funny side and received a few grateful handshakes from Croxley players on his way back to centre back.
That fourth goal came a little later, Nigel’s goal bound attempt returning into the path of Luis, who has been in good goal scoring form recently and who put this one away nicely.
Our memories may not be perfect these days but there were some memorable moments in this one. Some super goals, and it will be a while before we forget that penalty.