Auntie beaten

BBC Post Production 0 PFFC 2

Gibbo, 12 January 2004

Another Baltic evening descended on the Willesden Olympic Arena as the Philosophy squad arrived looking fresh and sprightly, having been at their various winter training camps where they indulged in such vigorous drills as running three miles with tractor tyres in tow, chopping down trees, painting fences, eating turkeys and lifting many pints of beer.

The Thinkers were forced to endure watching another non-event of a football match between organizer Hany’s own table-topping, mouthy AIQL and the table-propping, equally obnoxious Hudson before getting on to face the Beeb.

The turnout ­ no less than eighteen Philosophy players ­ was to serve as a chilling message to the league leaders: we mean business. This presence, amplified by the antics of Filippo and Richard on the touch-line as well as the daunting figure of the world’s biggest defender (Brian) was no doubt an influence on AIQL’s disappointing performance and ultimate result (a 2-2 draw).

The PFFC starting eleven was announced and those on the bench had to face up to the fact that three would not get a game at all. Surprisingly enough one of the subs was Gibbo, despite him having spent the festive period training with Lennox Lewis whilst still finding time to build housing in rural Africa and touch up the Sistine Chapel. Filippo accepted his fate early on and made it quite clear that his bag was in his car. Included in the starting line-up was a debutant: Damian, who’s been drafted in to replace Bryan Due.

What was abundantly clear to everyone, even without the Gaffer telling us (which he did anyway) was that we had to stop conceding the first goal and had to learn to settle down a lot quicker. Unfortunately only the former of the two was actually achieved and Philosophy was to have a fairly uncomfortable first half.

One would think that BBC Post Production specialise in finishing, and maybe they can finish in front of goal, but they never really looked like carving out decent opportunities. Any chances that may have fallen to them would more likely have come from a Philosophy error rather than a decent build-up. The game was dull and the passing was erratic from both sides, something that prompted Dan to bring himself into deeper positions in a bid to carry the ball up the pitch on the ground.

But it was that less than incisive football that led to the opening goal. The ball found its way to Kieran from an as yet unknown source (claim it if you want... no, not you Richard) who took it on his right just inside the box and hit a low drive past the keeper for his first of the season. It also marks the first time in a long time that PFFC have taken the early lead in a game.

BBC were not to respond in typical Philosophy fashion. In fact the Thinkers were now more settled and relaxed with the ball. There was to be one more chance before the break, a magnificent solo effort from Dan who cleverly beat a player before striking the ball just over the crossbar.

There were many voices at half-time but the overriding message was that we needed to maintain how we’d played in the last ten minutes of the first half and avoid slipping into how we’d played up until then. There were two changes. Dennis replaced Eric in a straight swap and Cornish Al came on for Mauro and then switched wings with Ronan thus allowing both wingers to come inside and try shooting.

The BBC failed to ‘sex up’ their game and, apart from a couple of long-range efforts, hardly worried the Thinkers in the second half. In contrast Philosophy were playing miles better. There was sweeping movement and rapid counter-attacks, and the flanks were becoming more open to exploit crossing opportunities.

That’s exactly what happened for the second goal. A ball played towards the right flank from the centre of midfield was allowed by Ronan to run into the path of Kieran who had a massive overlap. The number 25 took the ball to the touch-line before firing in a hard cross which was met bravely by the head of Dennis. The ball took a bit of a deflection which took the power off what probably would have been a rocket, but the keeper was never going to keep it out and Philosophy effectively put the game out of reach.

The ridiculously vocal Filippo happened to be on a telephone interview with the Italian State Broadcaster, discussing the state of British football at the exact moment that the second goal went in. We’re not sure exactly what the reaction was but we’re certain that it was not broadcast. Transcript, no doubt, to follow.

There was to be one more change before full-time with Danny coming on to replace Lele and then switching with the versatile nomad Ronan to play down the right wing.

Probably not Philosophy’s finest hour, mainly because of the first-half performance, but Damian played impressively on his debut, Vipul was solid once again and Kieran had a fantastic game. But overall a good performance from all and proof that we can score without Edgar, who unfortunately has retired due to work commitments.

Next game is against Air France. They can be tricky and have some talented players but they should be dispatched as they don’t have any serious fire-power up front. In fact I believe their goal against us last time was an own goal.

PFFC (4-4-2): Adrian; Lele (Danny 80'), Vipul, Brian, Damian; Mauro (Cornish Al 45'), Ronan, Ally (c), Kieran; Dan, Eric (Dennis 45')

Subs not used: Bruce, Gibbo, Richard, Filippo (although he doesn’t really count as his bag was in the car)