Saturday 10th October 2009

SSEC Intermediate Division Two League

RH123 Athletic FC 1 – 5 Fulham Deaf FC

After FDFC’s rousing victory over Weston Green in the previous week, the lads were looking forwards to continuing their progress against a strong RH123 side which had been operating in the upper reaches of the table since the start of the season.

Nonetheless, this task was going to have to be done without the animated backing of our Gaffer, Ayad Sarraf, who had decided to give his heart a rest by rolling down the mean streets of Detroit for a family wedding.

Our crippled boss-elect, Greg ‘Ironside’ Beedie, opted to go with the same 3-5-2 formation that had brought us success against Weston Green, with Waller coming in for Simmonds being the only change of personnel. From his wheelchair, Greg urged the team to maintain their current good form and to respect RH123’s reputation.

The game kicked off with a rapid onslaught by RH123, who were clearly up for the match. Playing several cross-field balls and exposing the fact that our outside wingers were not tracking back well enough, they managed put significant pressure on the back three, who appeared to have their hands full with RH123’s Incredible Hulk look-a-like upfront.

However, a combination of luck, dogged defending and some poor finishing let FDFC off the hook in the early stages, and some encouraging counter attacks were being forged through the speedy Willis, who was once again up to his usual tricks of unsettling the opposition defence by being, well, quicker and more aggressive than them.

All of this good work soon went to waste when RH123 once again found themselves in possession on the wing, and a dangerous cross cannoned off the clown’s feet of Gill and into the path of their dangerous right wing-cum forward, who slammed in the loose ball past Robert’s near post, who maybe could have done better with the shot.

After this set-back, Fulham gradually settled and started to compete on level terms, with further foraging from Willis leading to FDFC’s first corner from the match. A well-delivered far post ball from the otherwise off-colour Phillip Swift caused chaos in the RH123 box, where Captain Evans showed all the predatory instincts of a natural forward (Moore, take note) to swivel on a sixpence and hit the ball into the opposite corner. His bizarre goal celebration failed to detract from the fact that FDFC had somehow clawed their way back into the match.

The remainder of the half saw RH123 continue their artillery barrage of Fulham’s back-line, who started to look more and more convincing as the half went on. Nonetheless, RH123 had a couple more half-chances before the half-time whistle, and a couple of bookings being shared by both sides for dissent, with Phillip Swift on the receiving on of one such yellow.

Greg ‘Ironside’ Beedie, however, was incandescent with fury at half time, tearing into the vast majority of the team and demanding greater ball retention and team cohesion. Stung, the FDFC players ran back onto the pitch to start the second half and prove him wrong.

The first fifteen minutes of the second half proved to be fairly even, with RH123 aerial pressure contrasting with FDFC’s speedy attacks on the counter. When one such opportunity fell to Willis, he decided to show the RH123 defence the meaning of speed by chipping the ball over his marker on the half way line, riding a few tackles and slotting the ball coolly past the helpless goalkeeper to give FDFC the lead. If a certain Michael Owen had seen that goal, he would have been forgiven for thinking he was watching a re-run of England v Argentina!

Ten minutes later, the game turned on its head still further when Gregory was on the receiving end of a late, poorly timed two-footed lunge by the RH123 captain, who was immediately, and perhaps harshly, sent off. A shaken Gregory recovered sufficiently to re-enter the fray.

Despite the numerical advantage that FDFC enjoyed, the game continued to play out at the same rhythm, with RH123 continually applying more and more pressure, and FDFC looking to counter quickly on the break. Phil Swift then made way for Daniel Ailey, who was to have a big impact on the final outcome of the match soon after that.

A ball again broke for Ailey on the halfway line after FDFC’s backline managed to fend off a RH123 free-kick. Taking adavantage of the freedom of Motspur Park, Ailey went on the rampage and charged into the box, eventually pulling off a bazooka of a shot into the net between the prostate goalkeeper and the near post.

Shortly after that, another break by FDFC down the right flank saw Moore play the ball inside to Ailey, who then unselfishly played in Willis. The hard-working striker displayed good composure to turn his man inside-out and fire in a right footed shot on the edge of the box in off the post to finish off his work for the afternoon, coming off for Simmonds. Gill soon also came off for Pafe Palata Mike, with Moore reverting to right back.

At 4-1 and with under 15 minutes left, the game was most likely won, and it was just a case of weathering another RH123 storm, the highlight of which were several clearing headers from underneath the goalposts from RH123’s big throwing full backs. Owing to frustration, the game ended on a sour note, with RH123 gradually losing discipline and another red card was shown on their otherwise excellent No.4 for a frustrated hack at Lampert.

Following a defensive mix-up, an indirect free-kick was awarded in RH123’s box soon after. After much discussion with Lampert, Ailey stepped up and fired the ball home from close range to take his tally for the match to 2 and to conclude the afternoon’s entertainment at 5-1 to FDFC.

On the face of it, it was a very comprehensive win for FDFC, but the scoreline really should have been closer and RH123 were the stronger side in the first half. FDFC’s discipline and the efforts of Willis, and later, Ailey, proved to be the difference. Several players performed well in patches during the match, but the player who delivered the most consistent performance as well as creating the game’s turning point out of nothing deserves to be the man of the match, and so the award goes to Jacob Willis, who is showing fine form.

Final score RH123 Athletic FC 1 – 5 Fulham Deaf (HT 1 – 1)

FDFC Line-up :- Roberts, Gill (Pafe Mike, 85), Harding, Evans (Captain), Lampert, Swift (Ailey, 68), Burns, Gregory, Waller, Willis (Simmonds, 73) and Moore.