Smithers brace makes Philosophy’s point
PFFC 2 Grafton 2
After two narrow defeats in pre-season friendlies, a rejuvenated PF went one better and started its championship campaign with a draw; although, having had the better chances and having wasted a penalty, we could have and maybe should have won the game.
The first 30 minutes saw our best passing game so far. Our defence, organised by Adam and Paul, was untroubled, Geoff and Tom kept their wingers in check and started coming forward.
Owen and Jez anchored the midfield, Raj ran tirelessly, Keir created overlaps on the left and Chris and Stefan worried Grafton’s defence several times.
After 20 minutes, Stefan broke on the right and his cross was met by a firm header from Chris to give us a deserved lead.
We squandered some further chances; under pressure, Grafton’s goalkeeper hammered a clearance against Stefan’s chest, only for the ball to bounce agonisingly past the goal.
But after 30 minutes, out of the blue, Grafton equalised. A silky run led to a shot from just inside the box which went beyond Rob’s dive and low into the left corner of the goal.
Although the Reds lost a bit of shape we knew at half time that the game was there for the taking.
Substitutes Ian, Nick and Tony fitted well into the team and we were still fairly dominant. But after 60 minutes, the defence, for once, didn’t clear the ball and Grafton’s ace striker scored another goal with a well-placed shot.
The Thinkers rallied again, winning some corners. The pressure told when Stefan was bundled over in the box (or did his best to get bundled over). Penalty duly awarded, Tony grabbed the ball and hammered it against the bar.
Nevertheless, we didn’t lose heart and soon afterwards, a stinging shot from Nick was spilt by Grafton’s keeper. Chris was on hand to equalise from short range.
Rob had to clear a swift counter-attack and at the other end Chris was denied his hat-trick by a goal-line clearance.
One of London’s near-hailstorms added some weight to our new t-shirts and the game became frenetic, the action passing from one goalmouth to the other.
The final whistle secured a point which was felt to be slightly disappointing. The word from the dug-out was well-deserved praise with some reservations.
Al Tepper gave another immaculate impersonation of a referee.