The day everything became nothing
PFFC 0 Deportivo 6
It's a remarkable thing indeed that just a week after a poor performance against Quinine, one of the league's better teams, led to a 6-2 defeat, a large squad – with a strong sense of togetherness and individuals taking responsibility across the pitch – conceded six goals unanswered to arguably worse opposition in Deportivo.
Was PFFC actually 'worse' than last week? Was the result an accurate reflection of the match? Was this perhaps, in spite of the admirable efforts of the players – particularly Henry with his Kuyt-like hounding of defenders and willingness to seek out possession – a match in which the limitations of the team were laid bare? Certainly not.
The half-time score-line, 2-0, more than flattered the opposition. PFFC had the lion's share of possession, and a number of good passages of play down the flanks – especially down the right-hand side with the ever-willing and evergreen Andy interlinking with the impressive Ömer – brought about 'moments' which may, on another day, have seen PFFC take the lead and potentially change the game. There was the corner which swung just past Henry and the post. The free kick which just evaded the reach of both attackers. Attacks which floundered in the final third due to a perhaps understandable overeagerness, but which were built on spells of excellent passing.
And then came the goal flurry. The first a quick move down Quinine's right-hand side which led to a finish low in the corner. The second following a deceptive bounce which led to Deportivo's striker lifting the ball over the defence and a clinical strike beyond Rob's reach. The heads of the players, however, didn't drop. Spirit was high. The players knew that a quick goal would change the game. We all wanted the rally to come.
It didn't. What we did see, sadly, was our concentration dipping and a failure to adhere to one of the game's oft-touted maxims: play to the whistle. Deportivo's number 7, typically, continued his ridiculous verbals towards the referee, players, trees, dogs and other assorted animals, vegetables and minerals, and on two occasions shouted for infringements which weren't awarded by the referee. Unfortunately, our players stopped, and waited, and the Deportivo attack took advantage of the confusion to increase a lead which was already become at four goals, one a header from a corner, and the other the result of some very bad luck from another set piece. Combined with a number of substitutions – Matt's groin injury leading to an enforced change – a typical desire to chase the game, and trying to very quickly develop an understanding with some unfamiliar faces which inevitably led to a loss of structure, the second half was certainly dominated by Deportivo.
But 6-0? 6-0 didn't reflect the effort, desire and willingness of the players, the fierce defending of Ally, Mario, Owen and, later, Khan; Matt's industry and creativity in the centre of midfield; Dan's strength and presence behind Henry; Tom's unceasing efforts on the left-hand side. The depth the substitutes added to the squad in a number of positions.
Finally, a nod to Francesco. After Andy's extraordinary angled finish last week, it would have taken some strike to become leading contender for goal of the season. One touch to control. Second touch to push the ball forward. Third touch, an arcing volley tracing a graceful parabola, hit from roughly 30 yards which the opposition keeper simply would never have reached. It hit the underside of the bar. It bounced away. In a way, it summed up the performance. Nearly, but not quite. Positive signs, just lacking an end result.
PFFC (4-4-1-1): Rob; Andy, Ally, Mario, Owen; Ömer, Dave, Matt, Tom;
Subs: Marco, Francesco, Khan,