More score draw
O.W. Strollers 3 PFFC 3
If, like me, you've ever tried predicting three away, or even three home, draws on a Saturday, you will appreciate what a ridiculous prospect Littlewoods pools is. However, in this case the odds were on for a draw. The reigning champions had never beaten this team, each of our four previous encounters ending as score draws. I won't refer to Strollers as a 'bogey' team for Philosophy, but we knew a win would be difficult.
The team was brimming with confidence on the back of their biggest ever win. Manager Andrews, in charge for the last time before heading off to Italy to recharge the batteries and contemplate how far he'd taken the team, was unable to stick with a winning side. He was able, however, to welcome back Ally and had Cornish Al making his first start of the season and Puskas, at centre-half, playing his first full game after an impressive display against Falcon.
The match began on a very small pitch with both teams struggling to find room. Chances were at a premium although the majority of play was confined to Strollers' half for the first 45 minutes. Neil was full of running and linking well with Sheff and Jez, but the Strollers keeper was rarely tested, although the garden fences were in considerable danger. The main talking point of the half came when 'Big Julian', the wily Strollers forward, sent Puskas crashing to the ground with a below-the-belt challenge. Half-time arrived with the two teams locked at 0-0.
Ian had to depart for work after venturing to the deepest South for 45 minutes. Stefan replaced him and Sheff dropped back into midfield. It was almost inevitable that Strollers would draw first blood with a swift counter-attack. The goal was taken with a sharp finish but the player was well offside. Philosophy were
noticeably rattled by this setback, but parity was restored when Jez hammered home at the back post following some fine work down the left.
Then the game suddenly sprung into life, due not to any changes to either side but to a change of referee. All manner of crazy decisions followed as the game's tempo was raised. Neil was blatantly brought down in the box with no decision given before Strollers restored their lead after an attack down the right caught the Philosophy defence sleeping and the Strollers midfielder grabbed his second from a tight angle. Things got worse after Rob was unable to hold a speculative shot on the uneven surface and the rebound was netted to make it 3-1 to Strollers.
The Strollers' lone forward, Julian, is not the most mobile of players, but he was proving to be a real menace to both Paul and Puskas and threatened with a close-range free kick.
Following a series of incidents across the park, Philosophy were still looking ragged, but Joe was instrumental in calming things down and concentrating everyone on rescuing the game. Cornish Al began stamping his authority on the game in the middle of the pitch and, following a further attack down the left flank involving Owen and Stefan, Neil kept up his scoring record with a sharp finish in the box to bring it back to 3-2 and give Philosophy some hope. The ref caused further confusion by declaring two minutes to go when in fact there were 12 minutes remaining. This seemed to affect the home team and allowed Philosophy to power forward looking for the equaliser. Their efforts were rewarded when Ally demonstrated what a valuable asset to the midfield he is as he squared things to extend Philosophy's unbeaten run. There wasn't time for any last-gasp winner, but Philosophy certainly finished the stronger.
A hard-fought 3-3 draw against Strollers cannot be too disappointing. The Gaffer could head off to warmer pastures on the back of 17 consecutive league games without defeat and everyone was in buoyant mood afterwards.