Flashes of promise not enough to stem Route One
PFFC 1 Dynamo Angies 4
Disappointment and frustration poured out of the sweat glands and soaked deep into the high-quality but surprisingly easy-fade red shirts of the Philosophy Footballers on Tuesday night. An accomplished line-up warmed up and stretched, eager to take on Dynamo Angies and demonstrate that cultured football could still be served up on the Astroturf of Willesden City Academy, despite having won only twice on this pitch.
The team started the match with a new 4-1-4-1 formation: Conrad was a lone striker. A strong start by PFFC resulted in some really sound spells of high-class one-touch isosceles triangles that were splitting the Dynamo midfield and defence. However, the direct through-ball of the competent opposition had the back four harassed and under pressure for much of the game and proved to be PFFC's downfall. Angies’ break-through came about mid-way through the first half when – not surprisingly – a long ball had our defence on the back foot and their centre-forward thwarted an off-side attempt and confidently lobbed the bouncing ball over Matt. The amazing goalkeeping that Matt continued to display for the duration of the match kept Philosophy in the game; otherwise, the opposition could have gone 3-0 ahead by half-time. Instead, Philosophy left the pitch at half-time with their tails between their legs, yet only 0-1 down.
With Mauro pushing on and Andrea dropping deeper to form the more common 4-4-2 formation, the second half opened in much the same way as the first, with Philosophy stroking the ball around with composed confidence and threatening to go near the opposition box. But over-elaboration thwarted any real shooting opportunity: the ball began, all too often, to go out of play or be given away cheaply. The opposition continued to fill the spaces on the pitch and managed to win more than their fair share of fifty-fifty balls. It wasn’t long before Angies penetrated the penalty box again: they scored two goals in less than ten minutes; both moves were started by a long ball. Philosophy battled back and Ally scored from wide on the right wing, bringing the score back to 1-3. Shortly afterwards, with Philosophy pushing forward, another break from Dynamo Angies left only two to cope with three attackers, and the ball was blasted into an empty net. Nothing should be taken away from the most impressive goalkeeping display I have ever witnessed, and Matt deserves nothing but praise.
The final 1-4 defeat didn't reflect the competitive nature of a closely fought game. With a greater show of determination, focus and ambition, Philosophy clearly has the skill and passion to turn the season around and start a winning streak that really does do justice to the quality silky football that was on display for limited but hugely impressive moments on Tuesday night.
PFFC (4-1-4-1): Matt; Tony, Owen (Ronjon 75), Phil, Vipul; Tom (José 60); Ally, Damian, Andrea, Mauro; Conrad
Man of the Match: Matt