Hillingdon Abbots 3 Old Tiffs 3
Scorers: Houghton, Sprunt, Rawlinson
- Dave Smith
- Trevor Huggins
- Alan Coe
- Pete Stephens
- Simon Burton
- Simon Baile
- Carl Naylor
- Keri Ryan
- Bruce Houghton
- Ali Rawlinson
- Jon Kent
- Rob Lee
- Nigel Sprunt
- Luis Silva
Hillingdon Abbots used to be called Langley Crusaders so religion is clearly important in this part of west London. However it was Tiffinians who were doling out the Christian charity on Saturday, handing the Abbots a last minute goal to rescue a point just as we were poised for our first win of the season.
Tiffinians lost against these opponents twice last season and Hillingdon won their opening fixture last week 7-0. But despite the poor omens, we were ahead in the first five minutes courtesy of a Bruce Houghton goal, the midfielder joining the play at just the right time to hit a fine effort the keeper could not stop.
Play was punctuated by some nice moments from Tiffs pint-sized midfield duo of Houghton and Rawlinson, who set a good tempo for the team when in possession. But the opposition also looked dangerous in fits and starts, the larger Hillingdon team sometimes opting for longer balls into channels on what was quite a large pitch.
After about 20 minutes the game was level. The ball came across and the Abbots striker hit it goalwards, but at keeper Dave Smith. Unusally, it went over the 6ft 3ins keeper’s hands and yet dipped under the crossbar, for 1-1.
In the second half it was Hillingdon’s turn to take the lead, an opportunity arising after the opposition found space on their right, pulling the ball back dangerously into our area. It was met with force by the incoming Abbot, whose shot beat Smith to hit left, 1-2.
Sprunt, up front, had missed a couple of opportunities during the match, none too easy, but like the rest of us he was keen for his season to click into gear. Midway through the second half his chance came, probably harder to score than others he’d missed. He prodded the ball, it looped in, and Tiffs were back in the game at 2-2.
Cometh the hour, cometh the main man. Ali Rawlinson, who’d been having a great game as the arch agitator of the Abbots midfield, hassling and hustling and generally making a nuisance of himself, seized the game by the scruff of the neck with a moment of magic.
Your correspondent was watching from the touchline – having travelled 1 hours 20 mins to cover the game, just like a real reporter going to a real football match – so I was some distance away but from memory, the wee man knocked it over the head of one of the Hillingdon defenders then slammed the ball in from the edge of the area. Whether I’ve recollected correctly I’m not sure, but I am certain that he greeted his own goal with a squeal of delight, and ran into the goal itself to celebrate.
Tiffs coulda and shoulda sealed it – scoring a fourth which the ref ruled – unfairly, we thought – offside. We could’ve lived with that, but…
Just as the Abbot’s faith seemed to have abandoned them, Tiffs handed out some loaves and fishes.
One of the Tiffs players, whose name I cannot divulge to spare him embarrassment, had oodles of time as the clock ticked into it’s 89th minute. But he passed the ball directly to their most dangerous player. I say I can’t divulge his name – I can give you a cryptic crossword style clue… Tiffs vets player, Seb’s brother? (4, 3).
Anyway, that guy passed it to their best player, who had it all to do, as he confronted the mass ranks of the Tiffs defence.
A miracle happened as he ghosted past several players, unchallenged, before spiriting the ball past Dave and into the net. 3-3.
Still the boys are unbeaten after two. It could be worse.