A spirited finale
PFFC 2 Boodle Hatfield 2
So, the season drew to a close on Monday night at a ground which had provided us with little over the course of the season. PFFC took to the pitch hoping to finish in style and to restore some pride after statistics suggested that goals and results wouldn't be forthcoming. The last few matches had seen us leave pointless and goalless, although the performance against Visa had certainly given us belief that we could finish with a win.
A more familiar line-up too: Matt in goal; Vipul, Phil and Owen at the back; Ally and Tom on the wings; Damian and Tamber in central midfield with Clarkey playing behind a front two of Kieran and Conrad.
Philosophy started slowly, perhaps surprised by a solid start by 10-man Boodle, a team we'd managed to defeat 7-0 in our previous meeting. The Boodle team seemed to have changed since then, however, and their number 11 was playing well, holding up the ball and laying off passes to his strike partner. PFFC were just finding their feet, with Tom and Ally in particular finding lots of room and pulling out wide to stretch the Boodle midfield. Chances were beginning to arrive and on several occasions, after some great passing and movement, the final ball let us down.
Soon after these wasted chances, Boodle took the lead. A corner from the left looped over every player and went in at the far corner. Unfortunate, perhaps, but it sparked PFFC into life. Keeping most of the possession and pretty much camped in the Boodle half, PFFC began creating chance after chance. Kieran and Conrad's strength was causing huge problems at the back and with Tamber, Damian and Clarkey linking up well, Tom and Ally were able to get the ball out wide and put crosses in. Kieran had come close on a few occasions and Clarkey had been thwarted by a last-ditch tackle after taking on almost the entire Boodle defence. The pressure eventually paid off. Tamber, pushing further forward, was able to add to his goal tally with a fine finish, which was the least that PFFC deserved after dominating the match.
Boodle then seemed to bounce back into the game with Matt having to tip an excellent shot onto the post and save us again with a fine close range stop from a one to one with the Boodle striker. However, soon after, they took the lead again. After another excellent save from Matt, the BH striker was able to get to the ball first and put his team 2-1 up going into half time.
Belief was never in doubt though as PFFC took to the field again and the rest of the match was played almost entirely in the Boodle half of the pitch. Any goal kicks from the BH keeper were coming straight back towards him as Tom, Damian, Phil and Vipul were winning everything. Any time the ball did get into the PFFC half, it was dealt with well and Matt and the defence were quickly using the ball at goal kicks or throw-ins to create yet more attacks.
It was just a matter of time before a goal came, but Philosophy were guilty of wasting some excellent chances. At least four clear opportunities went begging with players missing headers from corners or putting the ball wide from crosses. Indeed, had our finishing been better, the game would have been won by at least three or four goals.
In previous matches, heads may have gone down at this point and the game would have been lost, but the entire team simply wouldn't give up. Tamber played a ball over the top of the Boodle defence and Conrad used his strength to latch onto it and skilfully put the ball away into the corner of the goal: 2-2 with only two minutes left.
When the final whistle blew, both teams were fairly content. Boodle had done well to hold on for so long and PFFC had refused to give up and had got the goal they thoroughly deserved to finish the season with a strong, spirited performance.
Overall, then, there are many positives to take from the season. On the whole, spirit in the team has been excellent and this has helped everyone to enjoy their football and play to their potential. The games in which the spirit dipped and arguments occurred tended to be the games we eventually lost. We can learn from this and go into next season with more confidence and belief, knowing that when we play to our potential, we can match any team in the league. Here's to next season.