Tiffs 1 Kew Park Rangers 4
Proving that what happens in the upper echelons of the game eventually trickles down to the very lowest level, Old Tiffs vets side followed Chelsea on Saturday by adopting the 3-5-2 formation.
Where the blues have Conte, we have Craig, and our coach had been keen to try out the approach which has become popular in the Premier League since the west London side (Chelsea, not Tiffs) used it to transform their campaign last season.
Alas fortune did not favour the brave in this instance, as the vets succumbed 4-1.
The post match analysis went along the lines that the set-up was working ok when we had players on the pitch suited to the formation. But when a central defender was withdrawn to referee in the second half, it slightly unbalanced the defence.
It did go wrong for Tiffs in the second half but another significant factor was the introduction of a wide attacker in the Kew ranks, who caused a whole bundle of problems.
The first half was a fairly even affair, in which Kew took the lead through a strange goal after about 15 minutes. The ball was played behind the back line, where the striker’s run was being marshalled by Simon Burton.
Goalie Smith came to claim it but the ball ricocheted between the three of them to land conveniently for the Kew forward, who scored into an empty net.
Tiffs were not overly concerned, as the score did not really reflect the balance of play. And eventually they drew level, with an equally unusual goal of their own.
It was that man Burton again who was involved. At the end of a short spell of pressure on the Kew goal, the ball reached Burton who was waiting patiently on the right hand side of the penalty area.
Both sides were expecting a cross – and most players in that possession would have slung one into the mixer. But Simon is a man with a sublime right foot and he spotted the goalie was a yard off his line.
So he feinted to cross, and lobbed the keeper from a tight angle. He does it in training all the time.
Knowing smiles, 1-1, and the score felt about right at that stage.
Come half time, off trotted the ref to do the more important task of arbitrating the 4th team’s cup game, and Tiffs‘ centre back Markham pulled on the black shirt.
Kew were a handful in the second half. They played with more intent, and created considerably more chances, leaving Smith in goal a very busy man.
He pulled off a string of great stops, but was unable to prevent any of the three goals Kew did rack up.
Mostly the danger was coming from their right side, where the pacy player introduced at half time was probing and testing our wing back and the back three with relish.
But there were also the occasional breaks on the other side. It was all in contrast to Tiffs‘ own efforts going forward, which were sporadic at best and rarely threatened.
So the goals. In one instance, the ball came into Kew’s excellent centre forward, who wriggled himself a glimpse of goal despite the close attentions of Naylor, and that glimpse was enough for him to hit a shot hard and low into the net.
Later, a break down the left led to a low cross, gleefully met by the incoming Kew player from six yards for a comprehensive finish.
The third of the half, i think, was from the danger man on their left, put through to beat our over-worked keeper.
It will be interesting to see whether the 3-5-2 experiment continues. Eavesdroppers after the game heard coach Walker mention the Christmas tree formation.
Surely it’s too early for that? And who would be the fairy on top?