Coyne penalty calms Thinkers’ nerves

Burge & Gunson 0 PFFC 7

Hugh, 26 March 2002


A glance at last year’s report on the equivalent fixture should have warned the squad of the logistical challenge of everybody finding Burge & Gunson’s south London home in time. Perhaps it’s the duplication of certain street names, or even base stupidity, but finally an eleven kicked off down the slope of this friendly and well appointed firefighters’ venue, aware that a win would bring the Championship clearly within reach.

It was that realisation alone which caused the major problems in the first half. Tension gripped tour boys, and though they carried the game down to the sterling plumbers, they struggled to achieve the decisive breakthrough. Indeed there were several close shaves from B&G counter-attacks. Crucially, however, the home side were clearly relieved to reach half-time at 0-0, while the Thinkers gathered themselves for Part Two.

I had not expected to referee the game, which forced me to endure the missed chances with Trappist stoicism, but early in the second half a clear trip on Neil gave me the opportunity to blow for a legitimate penalty. I hope I was able to conceal my delight. Ian accepted the opportunity with both power and precision, and the tension of the occasion evaporated away.

As often happens in Sunday League, and sometimes Premier League, football, once behind B&G lost all shape and confidence, and there was a terrible inevitability about the latter stages of the contest.

Filippo made a welcome return from six weeks of injury problems, and Marco ‘Uno’ was ably replaced by debutante Marco ‘Due’, so a strong Italian influence was maintained, but more impressive still was Jason’s first appearance in Thinkers’ Red. A dead ringer for Trevor Sinclair, he caused awful damaged to the B&G midfield with his poise and vision.

Neil found space for a splendid hat-trick punctuated by further goals from Cornish and Stefan. Chris banged in the seventh.

Spirits were high at the whistle; the march to the title was almost complete.