Reds take red carpet in 8-goal thriller
Deportivo 3 PFFC 5
It is not the easiest task to write a match report three weeks after the match has taken place, but this time, to my rescue came three back-to-back cancellations due to a waterlogged pitch, a frozen pitch, and an administrative mistake. So what better early-week reading then reminiscing about the last time we were actually able to play a game, in which we won fashionably, to prepare for our next fixture.
Surely, one challenging task about writing a match report some time after the event is that one is likely to forget some of the crucial details of what actually happened on the day. This is why some note-keeping is always handy, and going through my various digital archives I found a picture I took after the game on a social-media site, a note I took on my phone app about a reference to Skyfall, and that odd conversation about how Will loves to take the tube to East Acton, rather than White City, as the rest of us do. So, let us put those and some of the details already on our website to bring the pieces together. Besides, if you watched Skyfall and are from Turkey, like I am, you will know that in narrative pieces of literature or cinema, not all sequences make perfect chronological sense and you have to trust in your audience's imaginations to avoid being held accountable for stating as true a collection of facts called 'match report'!
On what was a sunny 18 November, the Philosophers took to the playing fields of Wormwood Scrubs against Deportivo in the hopes of getting the first win of the season – at their third attempt. With a perfect record against them in the previous season, which included a game with famous reappearances from old-timers and a walk-over after a no-show, the Reds had confidence about achieving this task. Our squeezed squad was bolstered by a couple of late calls, and Jon and Dylan were welcomed as the only two substitutes. On the back of good early-season training, we looked in good shape and in Andrea’s absence, Ally decided to make a small coup and played the team in a new (and old) 4-4-2 format, himself playing as central defender alongside a returning Mario, with Andy covering right back and Rob, the left. Will and Simon sat in the middle of the pitch, with another returner Henry on the right flank and Ömer on the left. Matt teamed up with James up front. Kadeem, as always, stood between the sticks.
Philosophy took the game to Deportivo early on. Whether it was because the distance to the ground is actually shorter from East Acton meant that he was fully rested, or the opposite and therefore fired up, Will was instrumental in distributing passes across the field to release Henry and Ömer, who had loads of space on the wings with support from 'ice-man' Rob and the ever-ecstatic Andy, and thanks to what appeared to be a tired Deportivo squad. Reds opened the scoring with a left-wing corner swooped in by Ömer, elegantly head-lobbed by Will and pushed in across the line by James – a proper team effort! It was not long before the second goal arrived from a quick counter-attack after a sturdy Philosophy defence collected the ball and moved it quickly across midfield, with Simon releasing Matt on a free run, who unselfishly set James up for a cool tap-in.
As the Philosophers pushed 'Depo' in ranks, the only other person in the field who could match their pace was the referee, who looked like he came straight off the Skyfall set, dressed as he was in a flashy orange jersey and nerdy square glasses, resembling the series’ new Q. The new Q’s reassuring remarks to Bond in the film regarding his new hi-tech, no-frills device was almost a testimony of what the Reds had been so successful in achieving up to that minute in the game: no need for a magic wand, but back to the old basics of collective football and a lot of running. It must have been the relative lack of grip on the nerves of Philosophers that allowed Deportivo to start exerting some pressure, mainly through the big number 7, who held up the ball well and started feeding his teammates, making runs on the right, left and through the middle. As Deportivo got back into the game with a late first-half goal, the Reds congregated at half-time in good but cautious spirits.
Henry’s initial return to the field of play for this game meant that we lost a significant share of the number of fans coming to our games, but as he needed a little more rest to fulfil his long recovery, Jon was introduced to take his place on the left wing, while Dylan came on for James. The second half started off a little more evenly, Deportivo proving once again how important it is to go to the half-time break with a little bit of morale as they seemed to be matching our pace and fitness levels at the beginning of the half. They equalised early in the half, but Matt put the Reds back into the lead with a cool finish on a one-on-one with the keeper. Deportivo’s number 7 started to add more tension into the game not only by dragging at least one or two Red men out of position every time he got to the ball but also by trying to put the referee under his influence by constant yelling – to no avail, however; as we all know very well that the world once ruled by the Greeks is now ruled by the geeks (see link), and our ref was no exception.
There was a brief scare period after Deportivo equalised at 3-3. Players' player of the season Kadeem prevented the home team taking from a barely-deserved lead, and we bounced back when Matt got his well-deserved second of the game to make it 4-3. A more comfortable Philosophy team played out the rest of the game with better possession and attacking football that saw Dylan mix it up in the opponent’s box quite a few times. A few fashionably missed one-on-ones by Simon and others were nullified when a long kick by Kadeem was immediately brought down by Henry, who had now rejoined for the final 10 minutes of the game, releasing Dylan immediately who gave all of us a lesson in finishing.
With morale and anticipation high, I managed to endure the wearing away of the skin on both my Achilles’ heels after my first 90-minute date with my new boots – but that only meant I had to wait until most of the team left to take a picture of the beautiful day and a few of us walking proudly back to the changing rooms. It was at this moment that I thought I was able to capture the elegant fashion of our referee for an eternal memory but a look back at the photo I took revealed that he had indeed used his magic whistle to fly away long before…
PFFC (4-4-2): Kadeem; Andy, Mario, Ally, Rob; Henry (45'), Will, Simon, Ömer; Matt (2), James (2, 45')
Subs: Jon (45'), Dylan (1, 45')