Food for thought
Deportivo 4 PFFC 1
Several years ago, one of the classic cup encounters involving Philosophy Football ended with a 1-0 victory to the thinkers over Deportivo, a slick West London outfit and one of the favourites for the trophy. According to the various reports communicated to me in Chianti, waiting for a non-existent bus, the game was eventually settled by Gibbo, courtesy of Filippo's belly, but that only told half the story, which included an 'awesome' display from Aussie Rules John (playing his first ever real football match), a cameo performance from Luigi and some car-parking problems for Stefano, which were overcome by the then experimental rolling subs rule. However, arguably the most influential incident was prior to kick off when Filippo talked the opponents into some complacency, mentioning our ineptness and predicting an easy day in the sun for them.
Last week saw a return cup match, though unfortunately with a different result, which suggested – probably coincidentally – that it was their turn to unsettle the opponents before the game. (According to captain and historian, Owen, Josh was one of a few players remaining from the earlier encounter). On our arrival, we were told that a/ their kit hadn't arrived, b/ the ref had pulled out and c/ they only had ten players. As the 15 strong philosophers played numerous passing games and wondered about missing the golf (Clarkey) and lunch, our opponents, having inexpertly put up the nets, promptly disappeared. They returned 40 minutes after the scheduled kick off time, looking a shambles. Negotiations bent a few rules and we agreed to ref half the match provided we could use all our four subs; a very British compromise in the circumstances.
As the match developed, it seemed, however, that the hunger of the philosophers' having been well and truly met by Marco's amatriciana the night before, was lacking on a difficult pitch and playing against the wind. Nevertheless we created more clear cut chances in the first half and it was against the run of play when they took the lead from their first corner, before doubling it with the help of a swirling wind. Ally pulled a goal back after a clever throw by Cornish Al found Clarkey down the left who supplied the vital cross; Ally surprising their defence in getting in behind. Shortly after Ally found himself one-on-one but despite going down after contact with their keeper no penalty was awarded by their twelfth man. However we were optimistic at half-time, with liberal use of rolling subs and now with the wind. Andhino was making a lot of runs down the right and Al and Ally interchanging down the left. The next goal was vital. We weren't creating enough clear chances now and their third goal killed us off, shortly adding a fourth. Overall, we didn't fancy the conditions, we were outfought and second to the ball too often and have not yet adapted to the physical blustery conditions of Sunday football. Our passing needs to be better. Conrad, despite struggling with injury, looked the part though and his style will be suited to these conditions in future matches. It was great to see Rob back in goal. When he arrived at the ground we thought he had brought another player with him. However, this turned out to be Tom, last seen on the tour of Amsterdam, who seems to have grown three feet in as many years. Occasionally I had the view he was pleading with me to bring him on. Like many other teams, they were not a bundle of laughs on the pitch and even had the temerity to loudly question Andy – officiating in the second half – over a penalty before being put right with stern reminder about their earlier efforts.
Overall then, lots of food for thought. We need to adapt more to the conditions and play together more and will look to try different formations over the coming weeks. The squad is growing and there are many good signs that we will start getting the results.
PFFC (4-4-2): Rob; Andy (Andinho 35), Kofi, Vipul, Owen; Ally (Conrad 75), Matt (Francesco 80), Andrea, Francesco (Cornish Al 35); Clarkey (Vito 40) Conrad (Isaia 46)