No stroll in the park for Philosophy
PFFC 3 Surbiton Strollers 2
After the 7-1 goal frenzy of the previous week, Philosophy Football faced a stern test as they played host to one of this season's stingiest defences in the shape of Grafton-League new boys Surbiton.
Despite beating Surbiton in a pre-season friendly, little was known of the new force, who came into the game off a run of three consecutive clean sheets and with an excessive squad of 16.
Fears that the overnight big freeze might make the Maida Vale astroturf unplayable were quickly allayed by a brief pitch inspection. Thankfully the foolhardy teams that kicked off at 8.30am on a brass monkeys morning had warmed the turf nicely. So, while the surface looked more suitable for Torville and Dean than a hard-fought battle, the conditions were deceptively good for a repetition of the pass and move finesse that earned Philosophy their huge win over Grafton.
Victory would see Philosophy move up the table to second and was essential if the dreams of title glory were to be kept alive.
The game started out tentatively but at a healthy pace. Players from both teams were given little time on the ball and the emphasis was largely on the respective defences whose solid performances ensured that little was given away in the final third.
It was clear that it would take either a lapse in concentration or a moment of inspiration to open the scoring. On the 20-mintue mark it was the latter that broke the deadlock.
After a swift passing move Steven picked up the ball on the edge of the Surbiton box, turned on a sixpence and, much to the surprise of the Surbiton keeper, drove a snap shot low and hard into the bottom left-hand corner.
And it wasn't long before Philosophy had more to shout about when Neil's pace exposed a flat defence and he broke through to latch on to a defence-splitting pass. The finish was clinical and it was two in ten-minutes for Philosophy.
The score line was a little deceptive and Surbiton showed no signs of buckling under the two-goal deficit. The Philosophy defence and midfield responded well, digging in to stave off some surging Surbiton attacks. Good battling performances across the back four ensured that Philosophy settled into a rhythm and they looked likely to carry the lead into the break.
But any thoughts that a two-goal cushion would be sufficient were banished ten minutes before half time. Growing pressure from Surbiton finally paid off when their star player, No 5, found himself unmarked in the Philosophy box to drive home from 18-yards to make it 2-1.
At half-time Surbiton made use of their five subs and made the bizarre tactical decision to leave No 5, their key playmaker, on the sidelines for the majority of the second half. With Neil feeling a hamstring strain, Philosophy were forced to alter the frontline and bring on Stefan.
Despite fielding a weakened midfield Surbiton proved as much of a force in the and about 20 minutes into the second half they levelled the match.
But this wouldn’t be a repeat of the recent defeat at the hands of Grafton, when Philosophy threw away a two-goal lead.
With a little over 15 minutes to play Boyle played in Stefan with an inch-perfect 40-yard ball that would’ve made Seba Veron proud. Not content to retire without making one last mark, Stefan deftly flicked the ball over the keeper, to bag the winner and end his glittering Grafton League career with a fairytale finish.
Joe, Puskas, Paul, Owen
Kier, Ally, Kieran, Cornish Al
Sub: Stefano (On for Neil)