The honour roll

Grafton 2 PFFC 7

Paul, 6 January 2002


The events and drama of the FA Cup third round ties at Villa Park and Ninian Park over the weekend threatened to overshadow the excitement in Dulwich, South London. Perhaps in the spirit of the season, the Gaffer elected for a kind of Christmas tree ­ in fact, more Star of David­ formation with his 4-3-1-2 line-up. Ian moved into the midfield trio, allowing Marco to sit behind the two forwards.

The game kicked off with Joe in his familiar, though unwanted, role of referee. The opening minutes were cagey, Grafton offering little up front. As if to suggest that no giant-killing would take place, Brian and Barry, the Grafton player-manager, were involved in a collision which left Barry badly shaken by the 6'5" Liverpool lad. The threat of salts from Dr (of journalism) Filippo had Barry scurrying off the field at a rate of knots.

Soon after, Marco seized a half-chance and opened the scoring with a fine goal. This was followed by some good work down the left by Richard, and Owen linked well. Owen crossed perfectly for Chris to finish at the back post. Filippo said that he would run himself into the ground for 45 minutes; in fact, he played so deep in the opposing half he could have been in the building site at times, abandoning his defensive duties. Raj filled these gaps superbly and kept the defensive cover intact. Grafton did manage to sneak back to 2-1 with an attack down the left, resulting in a deflected shot wrong-footing Rob.

Thankfully Ian quickly made it 3-1 after a fumble from the Grafton keeper, and Brian rammed home a rebound off the bar from Stefan's header following a well-worked corner. Chris got his second of the match with a header to make it 5-1 at half-time. The Gaffer was happy; the only change he made was to bring on Joe for Filippo, who took over refereeing.

Ian settled half-time nerves with a shot from well outside the box to make it 6-1. Soon after, Grafton netted a consolation goal, to make it 6-2, with a cross from the left that fortuitously dipped in beyond Rob at the far post. Stefan was brought down in the box. This must have been a penalty, as Stefan ­ who has in the past refused a penalty - said it was. Ian claimed his hat-trick from the spot. 7-2. A Grafton forward showed he was still in the festive mood by pea-rolling the ball to Rob when one-on-one.

In summary, an excellent first half for Philosophy. Legs did tire in the second half, and fitness may have been a problem against a stronger team. Marco was man of the match, and the gaffer's tactical know-how might give Fergie a run for his money. Up front, Stefan and Chris look like they are ready to get on the score-sheet again which is crucial to us. Richard looked to be back to his old form. Joe slotted in well on the right, showing it is possible to defend while still getting forward. But surely the biggest poser for the gaffer is Ian ­ not where to play him next week, but whether to give him the match ball. At the moment it’s the only one we have!