Stuck in the mud
OW Strollers 2 PFFC 2
Surely this would be the match to break a drawing sequence that even Tony Hart would have been sick of. With two such evenly matched teams, the outcome would undoubtedly hinge on the strategies employed by the rival coaches. Strollers’ tactic proved to be the twelve-man ‘You’re playing at my place now, so I make up the rules‘ formation.
Unphased, Philosophy started the game with a passion and rewards came quickly. Good work in the box from Ian led to a perfect lay-off to Keir, who on seeing this thought of Ally McCoist. With a cry of “If it can be done by one fat old Scot, it can be done by another”, he swung a leg at the ball to score.
For the following half hour, the Philosophers pressed consistently. Ian and Raj ploughed a furrow through the middle, and the flying wing-backs, Joe and Owen, stopped everything coming their way and provided a steady supply to the forwards. Up front, the pace of Stefan and Neil, supported ably by Marco, consistently troubled the home defence.
Philosophy were then denied a sure penalty. The crack of boot on shin reverberated across SW19. “Sonic boom” called the ref, a Stroller himself. Brooding on the injustice of the decision, Brian continued to discuss the matter with opponents throughout the game, occasionally illustrating his arguments with beautifully choreographed examples of how proper tackles should look.
It was inevitable that, having pressed for so long without further reward, Philosophy would find themselves under pressure, and the closing period of the half saw them defend a flurry of corners manfully. With Rob seeming imperious in goal, it looked like Philosophy would hold their lead to the interval. However, the final corner, only half-cleared, was looped back into the box to the feet of a free man, who scored from four yards out.
Buoyed by the half-time talk, Philosophy retook the field determined to wrestle the advantage back. Paul, leading by example, started two moves which almost led to a second, and with Stefan also going close, things were looking up. Philosophy finally reaped the reward, with another fine move calmly completed by Neil. 2-1 up with a little over 15 minutes left, and with Rob producing two magnificent saves, bets were on Philosophy breaking the draw spell between the two teams.
However, with injury time beckoning, a further dubious free kick was awarded to Strollers, and produced a further draw to add to the run. In the Philosophy dressing room a muted atmosphere suggested a defeat, but is surely the sign of a team that wants to win and knows it has the ability to do so, at least against eleven men.