Thinkers return to form
Warrington 1 PFFC 1
A strong Philosophy squad assembled at Paddington Rec, hungry for football after another long gap between fixtures. The boisterous character of Filippo was notably absent but the Thinkers welcomed the return of another Italian favourite, Dennis Fontana, having recovered from the rigours of a beach holiday in South Africa.
The Gaffer opted for a slight change in pattern to start the game against the ten men of Warrington by deploying the type of 4-5-1 formation that has been used to such good effect by teams in the Premier League.
Philosophy also welcomed Steffen, who made his debut alongside Damian in the centre of defence. Dennis played the lone striker role with Vito operating just in front of the midfield four.
The first half kicked off and both teams looked shaky, clearly showing the lack of football brought about by such sporadic fixtures. Nevertheless Philosophy looked most likely to open the scoring, with Vito and Kieran showing some invention in midfield.
However, Dennis was struggling to get service up front and often dropped back in an attempt to get the ball. In spite of this the midfield was breaking well, particularly with Ronan down the left.
The Warrington keeper suffered a scare when he failed to gather the ball from a cross but apart from that there weren’t too many chances for either team for much of the first half, until Ronan was released down the left and Philosophy finally found themselves able to make use of the one-man advantage in a three against one counter-attack.
Is was unfortunate that Giacomo was adjudged offside when Ronan opted to selflessly play the ball into his path as he had a better goal-scoring angle than that of the left winger.
Chance wasted, and in the last fifteen minutes of the first half the Philosophy defence went to sleep. Brian was unable to keep hold of a shot and an opportunistic, unmarked Warrington player managed to steal in and scramble the ball into the goal. This was a cruel blow for the Thinkers, but a greater blow was that Brian sustained an injury to his finger and had to be replaced by Owen.
The pint-sized backup keeper was needed almost immediately. He went down low at the feet of an oncoming striker to block a shot; the striker managed to fire in a follow-up, which was bravely blocked on the line by Kieran. Undeservedly Philosophy was on the ropes and it took an excellent tackle by the terrier-like Vipul to thwart another attack.
Half-time was welcomed. Adam had also arrived during the first half after transport delays had meant he missed the kick-off. Knowing that we needed to attack, the Gaffer immediately set about making changes. Gibbo was brought on for Tony and moved up front alongside Dennis; Adam came on to replace Rasmus at right back.
With Vito behind the front two and Gibbo able to take some of the marking pressure off Dennis, Philosophy immediately looked more ambitious going forward. But perhaps more important was the increase in desire from the Reds. There was far more talking and encouragement and even the now famous Warrington whingeing was being drowned out. It was impossible to tell which team was second from top and which was second from bottom.
Apart from a couple of corners and one good save from Owen, Warrington managed nothing meaningful in terms of attack during the second half. In contrast Philosophy attacked with verve. Dennis and Vito saw shots sail agonisingly over the bar after some excellent build-up work and Gibbo watched a stretching header go narrowly wide of the post.
The breakthrough was to come. Fifteen minutes from time a Warrington goal kick was fired straight back by the Philosophy midfield and past Gibbo, who was tussling with one of the defenders and couldn’t get a touch. The ball raced through into the path of the opportunistic Giacomo, who steadied himself before firing in a powerful shot that the keeper could only touch into his own net.
Philosophy continued to be the more ambitious side thereafter, but was unable to create another goal in the remaining minutes of the match.
A solid performance all round and an excellent point earned, proving that at our best we are well capable of competing in this division.
A couple of special mentions as well: to Marco for providing Mourinho-like advice from the touchline and, of course, to Nadia for not only allowing our skipper to play but also for watching in the freezing cold, and for her abortive efforts to collect Adam from Paddington station.