Canadian groin relieves the strain

PFFC 1 Strollers 1

Ian, 9 December 2001


Confident after three straight home victories had put the Thinkers just behind leaders Inter Aztec, the Gaffer elected not to change his defence for this vital match, but stuck with the winning 4-4-2 formation that had been so right up to that point, with Paul and Ian (a partnership which had shut out Inter Aztec and Grafton) getting the nod ahead of Brian.

The Red Men started the brighter and more inventive side once Strollers, late once again, had deigned to enter the arena. Neil and Stefan complemented each other up front, ably supplied by the central midfield pairing of Cornish Al and David; Marco and Kier always looked capable of feeding chances from the flanks. And the chances came, with Stefan twice put through, only to be thwarted by the adept Strollers keeper.

Yet another wave of Philosophical attack brought the first in a series of corners. Cornish Al swung in a perfectly placed corner for Ian to rise above the defence, but his header bounced agonisingly on the wrong side of the goal-line and was cleared.

It seemed a Philosophy goal was just a matter of time, and both Paul and Filippo, in unaccustomed forward positions, had chances to break down the visitors’ often hapless defence, now adopting a more physical approach.

But, on the stroke of half-time, the predictable sucker punch gave Strollers the lead. Rob and Ian both attempted to clear a long throw but, under dubious attention from an attacker, the pair let the ball run free for a simple tap-in.

Philosophy’s contemplative coach acted swiftly. Brian was introduced to add some steel to the defence; Ian moved into central midfield alongside Al; David to the left. Yet still no equaliser came and the home side, struggling to dictate on the ultra-fast Astroturf, were reduced to speculative efforts. It seemed Philosophy’s proud unbeaten record was to come to an untidy end. Only a smart piece of keeping from Rob stopped Strollers from killing the game when the defence was caught napping at a rare visitors’ corner.

But when it came, the equaliser was as unconventional as it was welcome. Stefan leaped to flick on a near-post corner, which brushed the keeper’s desperate fingertips before bouncing down off the bar. Only this time Chris had anticipated the ricochet. The Canadian poacher, with no time to adjust his position to finish with either his left or right leg, opted to use his third leg. “I scored with my dick”, he gleefully declared.