PFFC 5 Inter Aztec 6
If ever the ridiculous forced its way past the sublime, it was here at Paddington, where a confident opening gave no indication of the ultimately disappointing outcome to this end-of-season encounter. To the players as well as the spectators, this match steadily took on the aspect of absurdist theatre, but at the whistle the laughter was predominantly yellow with a bit of blue trim.
But why should it have come to this? PF had controlled things from the kick-off. Neat passing between Ian and Stefan had sent Raj through after three minutes to open the scoring with a low shot into the corner and, soon after, a precision throw from Richard was headed home by Ian.
Before the quarter-hour a carbon copy of the same well rehearsed ploy saw Raj provide the final touch to make it 3-0.
Continued pressure saw Sola’s glancing header creep over, though this didn’t seem to matter when, after 38 minutes, Stefan broke through alone, rounded the keeper and scored from a narrow angle.
This proved to be the high water mark of the Thinkers’ performance. Despite the margin, Aztecs’ two young strikers were obviously dangerous and two quick goals halved the advantage, the second made possible by some blatant goal-mouth pushing.
All was far from lost, however. Richard immediately had a shot cleared off the line before the Thinkers scored a controversial fifth, Ian’s robust challenge on the keeper allowing a long shot to carry into the net. Inter’s abuse of the referee for failing to give a free kick was beyond an acceptable level for amateur sport and the soured atmosphere prevailed to the end of the match.
Sola’s brave header from a corner was soon followed by a bizarre third for Aztec, when a final touch from a forward yards offside completed a fine individual run from the impressive number 4.
The Thinkers’ half-time incredulity at an eight-goal first half should have been turned to steel for the second, but instead, along with the match official, they allowed Inter gradually to impose themselves. When Filippo hand-balled to concede a penalty on the hour, the four-goal lead had been reduced to one and team spirit was replaced by eleven tired individuals hanging on for the whistle.
Even then opportunities were created but a further goal just would not come. A four-on-two counter-attack failed to restore some sense to the scoreline. Soon afterwards Simon almost converted a Keir free kick after a cynical push in the back on Jez and Raj couldn’t quite force home a close-range header.
Fatigue appeared to add numbers to the opposition, while a foul throw decision against Richard, of all people, showed that the referee couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Paul was clearly unhappy with the situation.
There was a terrible inevitability about the equaliser, on 70 minutes, though Richard’s snap shot from the resulting kick-off was just inches wide. A nasty edge was creeping into the game in the dying stages, typified by a shameful trip on Raj which, given the surface, deserved a sending-off.
Filippo redeemed himself with a headed goal-line clearance with time nearly up but in the last minute of normal time Inter’s number 4 completed an outstanding individual performance with an unstoppable near-post drive to win the game.
Rob should not have been placed in the position of picking six balls out of his net.