Hillingdon Abbots 4 Old Tiffs 1
What’s in a name? The Old Tiffs travelled to Hillingdon Abbots on Saturday, who last year were called Langley Crusaders.
Apart from the religious reference it was all change and the re-brand seemed to have done the opposition a holy lot of good.
Because while last year’s trip to north west London brought an Oscar Omo inspired 5-1 victory for the Tiffs, this season we were Oscar-less, and finished the match pointless.
For the second successive league match we were without several key players, and a determined Hillingdon side made us pay.
To be fair to our guys, some of those deputising did so very well. In goal Keri – who made his excuses early by announcing before the game ‘look guys, I’m no keeper’ – played a first half many who think they ARE keepers would be extremely proud of. Safe hands, the odd flying save, great clearances – it was some performance.
Simon Burton, brought into central defence, talked and played a good game from that unaccustomed spot. And Dave Gardner, still getting back into the swing after a lengthy break from football, had some decent moments in a devilishly difficult assignment as the one man up front.
But overall Tiffs struggled. We found it very difficult to retain possession and Abbots were quick to hassle us off the ball on a hard, bumpy pitch. And when they did turn over possession they were quick to feed their own front two, who gave the Tiffs defence plenty to think about.
It was hard work in the near 20 degree temperature but Tiffs made it to half time at nil-nil, under the cosh but surviving.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and in midfield Ali Rawlinson was doing his utmost to add some vim and vigour to a labouring Tiffs engine room. Having escaped a locked changing room earlier, we were expecting more magic from the mini maestro, but even he was finding it tricky to conjure something up.
In the second half the Tiffs were playing up the slope and with the sun in their eyes but it didn’t prevent them taking an unexpected lead. Jon Kent burst onto a through ball, if burst is not an exaggeration, and surprised their keeper (and everyone else) by hitting it first time. It arced beautifully over the stranded goalie and into the net, a goal that would grace a Premiership match.
Though playing uphill, it was all downhill after that for Tiffs.
Makeshift right back Wazza got beaten to the byline minutes later and the teasing cross did the damage, an Abbots forward there to finish from close range.
It had been hard work keeping the opponents at bay and after this first went in, three soft-ish goals followed. Tiffs had defended corners poorly for much of the game and a seemingly unmarked Abbot found space to header one decisively into the net, 2-1.
Later a break on the right led to a low cross scudding across the area. Markham intercepted at a stretch, and it was half cleared. Markham strode forward to finish the job but, in a mix-up, a baleful Simon Baile got there first and his touch set up an opponent. He finished easily, 3-1.
Keri, whose kicks and clearances had been as reliable as his goalkeeping, then rolled a goal kick towards an Abbots forward who bore down on goal, passed it across and left his team mate with an easy finish.
This was a tough fixture and one which Tiffs will want to forget quickly. They played with spirit but in the end didn’t have a prayer. We’ll look to do better when the Abbots visit Grists later in the season.