Date: Saturday 10th April
Venue: College playing fields, Hamble
London Airways' number fifteen lay still in a heap on the grass with both hands clasped over the back of his head. Burridge defender Ben Hutton stood over him, his arms outstretched as he protested his innocence. “That's a disgusting challenge, referee,” shouted London Airways' captain. “He's gone right through him.” Several other London Airways players formed a yellow circle around the referee. They waved their arms in the air, complaining about what they considered to be a foul. They did not get a free kick. They did not get a third goal either.
Click on pics to enlarge: (top) Seconds before Airways' goalkeeper fumbles Newman's free kick to Hutton. (Below) Airways' number fifteen prepares to get back to his feet, as Hutton looks on.
There was twenty minutes left and no further goals since Hutton had equalised during the first half. A substitute jogged on carrying a bucket of water. From it he ran a cold wet sponge up and down the back of number fifteen's head.
Burridge midfielder Justin Newman tried to diffuse the situation. “That's what happens when sixteen stone attacks the ball in the air,” he said, with a thin smile on his lips. “He's no different in training.”
“He trains?” Enquired Airways' captain, raising his eyebrows. He put particular emphasis on the word he. Then he walked away from the referee, shaking his head and muttering under his breath. For the remainder of the match Airways' number fifteen abandoned his position up front and disappeared into midfield.
London Airways were eight points clear at the top of the league. Eighteen separated them from Burridge. When the two sides met in March there were six goals . None of them were scored by Burridge.
The sun had coaxed more people than usual to watch the game. They were dressed in short sleeves. Their eyes hidden behind sunglasses. In the distance, masts of sailing boats sprouted above a line of trees that obstructed a view of the nearby marina in Hamble village. Burridge took the lead when Paul Andrews touched the ball on and Marc Judd ran toward it. He took a defender with him, but allowed the ball to roll past him into the path of Sam Schwodler, who collected Judd's dummy and side footed into the net.
London Airways drew level almost immediately, counter attacking from a defensive position on the edge of their own penalty area. Burridge cleared as far as London Airways' captain, who was thirty yards from goal. One swing of his boot hit the ball low past Burridge goalkeeper Ryan Jones before he'd had a chance to move.
Airways passed the ball quickly. Burridge tried to get it off them. More often than not they swung their boots into Airways' flesh instead of leather. This gave Airways a steady flow of free kicks, one of which they took the lead from.
Burridge responded with a free kick of their own. Hutton left his defensive position to join Newman and Judd in a huddle around the dead ball. “Leave it, Huts,” shouted Burridge manager Pete Lyons through his cupped hands. He waved Hutton into Airways' penalty box. Justin Newman struck the free kick. It travelled towards the goalkeeper's chest. He was unable to keep it there. The ball squirmed out of his grip toward Hutton who bundled the ball past him and over the goal line.
Burridge play Sholing Sports at home on Monday 12th April.
Burridge played in a 3-4-3 formation:
DF:Kristian Hewitt (c)
RM:Sam Hewitt (yellow card)