OTFC Vets vs Hersham Vets, Saturday 10 February 2018
OTFC 2 Hersham Vets 4
Scorers: Silva, Omo
- Dave Smith
- Simon Baile
- Pete Markham
- Carl Naylor
- Jon Kent
- Warren Arlow
- Oscar Omo
- Ali Rawlinson
- Bruce Houghton
- Dave Gardner
- Luis Silva
- Dave Harry
- Nigel Sprunt
- Paul Banoub
When it’s belting it down with rain and freezing cold, it can be hard to find the motivation to leave the changing room. When the opposition usually beat you, and there’s a sofa and armchair in the changing room, the temptation to stay inside is all the greater.
That’s how it was on Saturday, so credit to Old Tiffs for their pre-match enthusiasm, which included the full 14 being ready for action 15 mins before kick off.
Tiffs know they will always get a tough workout when they play Hersham Vets at Coronation Rec – it’s hard to imagine a monarch being crowned there – and had a real battle again.
Hersham were their usual assertive selves, passing the ball in triangles and knitting together some neat passages of play on a pitch which, despite recent rainfall, wasn’t in bad shape.
Tiffs for their part spent the early period of the game dropping off, and trying to nick possession where we could. This turned out to be not all that often, so it was hard work.
When we did break at them though, our front players were looking capable. While it was 0-0, the oppo’s possession didn’t count for all that match. We seemed to be riding out the storm, in more ways than one. Then they scored.
It was unfortunate. The team had been successful in limiting the number of clear cut Hersham chances to very few, through sheer effort, organisation and determination. Then Bruce, who added an extra sprinkling of class with some lovely touches and the odd bursting run, misplaced a pass.
It went to the feet of a Hersham midfielder. One pass, the striker looks up, and an emphatic curling finish. Tiffs defence had been conscientious in their marking to that point but were caught flat-footed by the swift turnover and immediate through ball.
The first half continued. Harry, Gardiner and Markham were replaced by Silva, Banoub and Arlow. There was less tempo to the Hersham play now, the urgency reduced by the goal.
Then again, an unfortunate second goal. A speculative shot was mishandled by Dave in goal. He’d been solid, but this was an error, and no doubt the conditions didn’t help. Unlucky big fella – 2-0.
Luis was put away towards the end of the first half but his shot was parried by the keeper.
At half time some more changes. All the subs on, including Markham at right back, where he started his Tiffs adventure in 1993. Ted Wightwick, watching from the sidelines, regards him as a virtual club newcomer, but still – that’s 25 years of mistake-laden service.
In the second half the tempo remained slower, the attacks coming in fits and starts from both sides. This could partly be put down to the good hustling being done by Tiffs.
Naylor pushed the defence up to squeeze the space and time and again we won the ball back, Oscar and Ali leading the way, haring and hounding around, but with plenty of others contributing. Then Ali did one of his bursts into the box. Dodging and weaving on the right, he slid the ball across to Luis who produced a lovely finish, 1-2 and game on.
Hersham upped it. An attack down our left led to the Hersham player bearing down on goal under pressure. He shot near post, which didn’t seem the natural thing to do but it worked… And it was 3-1.
The young lad on the left wing for Hersham, possibly someone’s son unless he’s the world most youthful vet, had wonderfully quick feet, but Markham and Gardiner seemed to be managing him ok.
Appearances can be deceptive. A ball along the touch line, a dummy which lost his Markham-named marker, and he was away. Naylor was on red alert, steaming across, but the cheeky whelp chipped it over the retired policeman, and chummy was off on his toes.
You take the back Tosh, Burnside – mean Naylor – yelled to Wazza.
But the suspect beat Wazza too, caught him flat-footed, after which I can’t remember if he scored himself or laid it on for a team mate. Either way it was impressive but for Tiffs, it meant we were 4-1 down. Criminal a lad of that age is playing vets football.
The vets were bloodied but unbowed. We were still winning corners, making chances and taking the game to Hersham. A rangy run from Oscar – by no means his first – drove into the box and suddenly a shooting opportunity opened up. The big midfielder hit it low and hard and it was 2-4.
Minutes later Chris Moyles blew his whistle. The game was over, and there was only one thing to do. Hare off to watch the rugby.
Well played to all 14 in Tiffs shirts, and well done to Hersham, a good footballing side.