Philosophy sunk by early errors
New Cross Irregulars 2 Aesthetico Athletico 1 PFFC 3
Philosophy Football got the season off to a start with an apparently rare full squad of 8, meaning I, as one of three newcomers, got a first taste of three-sided football out on loan to Aesthetico Athletico. When the draw before kick-off paired Aesthetico Athletico (and, therefore, me) against Philosophy Football there were mixed emotions – a chance to impress in front of my new club, but also the need to root for the opposition on my first outing. At least, I thought, in a three-sided game we could both beat someone else – reigning champions New Cross Irregulars. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite like that.
Philosophy got off to an awful start, conceding three with no reply in the first third. Here, I have to admit my memory of most of the goals in this game is extremely flawed, largely because although I ended up on the winning side, my team failed to score a single goal (excluding own goals) and so naturally I immediately forgot every single one. Regardless of my memory, New Cross, assisted (somewhat shamefully) by me and the other Philosophy loanee Mark, scored 3 goals. The main problem seemed to be a kamikaze approach to defending, which repeatedly gave Aesthetico and New Cross the chance to go one on one with Rob, and it was a wonder that no more than the three goals were conceded. On one occasion Rob did well to get down low to stop an Aesthetico strike but was powerless to stop New Cross putting the rebound in.
Given Philosophy’s disastrous start, from the second third onwards the game became a battle between Aesthetico, who seemed to carry bad memories of entering similar winning positions early in games last year, and last year’s champion’s New Cross. A mixture of the loanees and New Cross’s status as reigning champions meant alliance now came easy to Philosophy and Aesthetico and, despite the odd rogue decision to attack Aesthetico, this alliance largely held for the remainder of the game. Philosophy were applying most of the pressure on New Cross due to Aesthetico’s fear of repeating the late beatings they presumably suffered last season, and this pressure eventually paid off with a smart goal from Billy. This was when the fear really started to show in the Aesthetico veterans’ eyes; now they were officially in the lead and there to be shot at.
Though I was initially sceptical of this fear, the final third made it clear it was well placed as New Cross and Philosophy peppered Aesthetico’s box with crosses. Eventually the breakthrough came when a low drive forced a smart stop from the Aesthetico goalkeeper but was accidentally bundled into his own net by an on-loan Aesthetico defender. Some eyebrows were raised at the sight of an on loan player (possibly me) scoring an own goal in favour of his parent club, though I suspect if it had been intentional the player in question wouldn’t have so ungracefully landed in the goal alongside the ball. With this goal, attention again turned to the New Cross goal, and it wasn't long before a Philosophy player fired home at the near post, causing wild celebrations in the Aesthetico ranks as it was they who benefited most from the goal. A strange period then followed, with Aesthetico very reluctant to leave their own third and Philosophy placing their hopes – having already seen the stern Aesthetico defence in action – on salvaging a losing draw by scoring again past New Cross. With little help on offer from a very conservative Aesthetico (at times testing to breaking point their tentative alliance), this ultimately proved fruitless.
Aesthetico rode the game out fairly easily and secured a winning 3-2-1 scoreline. Philosophy had been undone by their early profligacy and, from that point on, never seemed likely to get back in the game. From my perspective, it was a thoroughly enjoyable (if slightly guilt-ridden!) first experience of three-sided football, and I'm looking forward to finally playing in the Philosophy red next time.