Victory at last
PFFC 5 Mother 1
Two weeks is a long time in football.
After the embarrassment of our last but one game, PFFC stepped up to the plate in a manner not seen by this observer in over a season. It proved to be a stunning display of passing play and total dominance over a team that were shell-shocked by the pressure put on them and dazed when their number 9 Dylan, was sent from the field of play after his persistent aggressive behaviour finally wore thin on the referee.
With the team losing a few key players to the early kick off and the Gaffer lapping up the last drips of summer in Rome, Ally took control of the team sheet and lined up his eleven men as follows.
Alan in goal with Brian, Damo and Vips in the centre of defence with Andy and Ally as wing backs. Kieran, Mauro and Eric started in the centre of midfield with Clarkey and Mikey up front. This 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 when needed allowed blanket coverage in midfield where a lot of the previous team' we have played against have overran us. The idea was to put the lads who could run a few miles if nothing else on the flanks and leave the muscle in the middle. With a subs bench consisting of Marco 4, Dodo (with bronchitis) and Bryan (still injured from the last game), ideally the starting eleven would finish the game as well.
After a bright start, Ally's plans were thrown out the window when Mauro pulled up with a twisted ankle. Bryan stepped up however and said he would come on in Mauro's position. We played with the same shape after this and it was clear from the start that the team was even more pumped than the previous game where a plucky PFFC were beaten by a slightly better and fitter team. It's one thing putting in the effort and losing but another thing increasing the effort and getting nothing from the game. It was either win or bust.
In the early stages of the match, Mother's Dylan (who was sent off against us last season for manhandling Owen and various other 'innocuous' moments) already protected his reputation with some choice words against Eric and a cracking 'hack' against Ally. Ally dusted himself down and went over to Dylan to explain he wasn't awfully happy with the challenge*. Dylan's back was well and truly up now and it would be interesting to see how he fared for the rest of the game.
Football wise however, the red men were stringing passes together nicely and not letting Mother attack with any freedom whatsoever. It was midway through the half that Mikey got Philosophy off the mark with a low drive to make it 1-0. The relief that we had actually got the first goal was palpable but we all knew there was work to be done yet.
Half Time: PFFC 1 Mother 0
As the second half kicked off, no other subs had arrived so I knew this 11 would finish the game as the player-gaffer was on the other side of the pitch and would not be taking his concentration off the game for a second. The midfield began to play with more finesse and more and more chances were going our way. Big Brian at the back was immense as were Damo and Vips, and the varying styles of each of them complemented the team excellently.
The solid decision-making of Brian allowed Damo to play the choice passes and Vips made sure no one got the better of his pace. It was perhaps the finest central defensive trio PFFC has seen (though Gaffer and Paul Kayley may look at the archives and argue). Bryan and Kieran were controlling the midfield with Eric providing strength and excellent tackling skills stopping the opposition from getting too far into PFFC's half.
It wasn't until halfway through the second half that the floodgates opened however. Bryan tackled Dylan but didn't get the ball and Dylan turned round to face his aggressor. Bryan's pace had allowed him to flee the scene and with acute comic timing, his brooding, ruddy face fell on mine. He advanced and said something like 'You're not going to get away with that one' but, before he did any serious damage, Vips stepped in (with more than a hint of aggression to be fair) and Dylan looked back. The ref had had enough of his insolence and gave him a detention. I mean he sent him off.
It was only 1-0 at this point and Dylan really ruined Mother's chances of hanging on. What happened in the remaining period of the match can only be described as relentless, unforgiving pressure. Like a boy who has watched all his friends get a girlfriend before cracking and pulling five girls in one night, the team transformed into an unrelenting goal-scoring machine.
Clarkey grabbed a brace before Mikey got a well deserved second. Ally got a goal too and the dubious penalty scored by Mother didn't detract from the pulverising 5-1 scoreline at the end. Apart from anything else, the scoreline flattered them.
I don't think I could single any player out for praise because everyone played magnificently. We could have scored more goals and there were a few off-sides but overall it was a vintage performance. With players old and new in the team, there really was a buzz back in the team. 'Stoked' Eric said it reminded him of the team we had when we won the first Londoners League we played in a few years ago. If any of you were like me, this team and this performance will live long in the memory too.
* Exact words (whilst pointing in his face) were 'Fuck you, you fucking c**t'