Even Stevens in freezin’ conditions
Athletico Aesthtico 3 – PFFC 3 – New Cross Irregulars 3
A raw February afternoon saw the top three battle it out for the honours in the latest round of the 3sided league: New Cross Irregulars, currently top of the pile on 1 point (!) faced Athletico Aesthtico and Philosophy Football FC, second and third respectively. Philosophy’s squad included another Swiss import, Benjamin Grossman-Hensel (following in the boots of club legend Stefan Howald); Michele our defensive leader; Alex the Gallic maestro; sturdy and strong midfield general Colin and then – straight out of the Alf Tupper ‘wonder kid’ school – Billy, a deft player with the ball at his feet and with bundles of energy; and, bringing up the rear in goal, my good self.
The first third got off to a blistering start as Philosophy launched an immediate attack on Aestheticos goal, and scored within the first minute! After that it was a period of prodding and probing as all three teams appeared slightly cagey. Any attack at the PFFC goal was superbly repulsed by both resolute defending – Colin and Michele proving to be rocks at the back – and some old school Tomaceski goalkeeping! We chalked up another goal against Aesthetico and looked to be heading in to the break at 0-0-2 when Billy broke through the ranks and chalked up one against NXI: the first third finished AA 2 - PFFC 0 - NXI 1.
In the second third, play ebbed and flowed, mainly being directed towards the Aesthetico goal in an effort to see them out of the game. Incidentally, the Aesthetico keeper played the entire game in ‘civvies’ – shirt, jumper and cords – something which I had never seen before, and probably never will again. I think he was on loan from Corinthian Casuals....! Ben was making an excellent start to his Philosophy Football FC career, once he’d managed to work out the finer points of the 3sided game. He came close on several occasions, a sure pick for the future. As, indeed, is Billy Panayi, a late recruit to PFFC but someone who has more than excelled out on the hexagonal pitch. Exemplary work rate and acute vision, he’s fast turning into our own Alexis Sanchez; speaking as a Gooner myself, this can only be a good thing. We managed to squeeze another past the Man at C&A and then Colin produces a rocket of a shot from Alex’s beautifully weighted corner to bulge the New Cross onion bag, and we end the second third on a 3-2-1 scoreline.
In the final period we witnessed the strange sight of AA joining alliances with NXI to try and see us off. Every time we gained procession and attacked NXI no one in blue wanted to help, tres odd. Even some forthright bellowing from Alex failed to engage Aesthetico. Eventually a gap appeared in our defensive wall and Dave from AA blasted a ball past The Cat to bring the score to 2-2-3. The final 10 minutes saw some great attacking play from PFFC, with everyone giving their all. Some deft wing play between Colin and Billy sent the ball out for a corner, from which we somehow bundled it over the NXI line; rumour has it it hit Bens backside ... but, as they say, hey all count. A frenetic assault on the PFFC goal follows, and I really have to earn that full-time KitKat between the sticks. Bodies are thrown in the way but during a scramble a leg poked out deflected the ball under me to bring it all square to 3-3-3. I had to hobble off after a clash of knees, so Colin donned the gloves for the final two minutes. Michele did a superb job of repelling a few more attacks and we almost nicked it when Billy got the ball, dribbled past one, past two, set himself up perfectly but ‘unluckily’ blazed over the bar.
Thus the final whistle blew at honours even: 3-3-3. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game, perhaps one of the best 3sided matches we have played. A solid display from all those in red and played in an excellent spirit, bring on March and the next round.
PFFC: Rob, Billy, Colin, Alex, Ben.