Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Burridge AFC 1-3 White Horse FC

Burridge went down fighting at home to White Horse on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was done amongst themselves.

Somewhere, beneath the twisted wreckage that is currently team morale at Burridge AFC, is a desire to do well for the football club. At present that desire is only able to express itself as it did during the second-half on Saturday afternoon – all too often by bickering with one another. Sadly, this new trait spilled over into the post-match chores of taking down the goal nets, and continued in the changing rooms. This behaviour doesn't reflect well on either the club or the players. Quite frankly, it's a bit of a mess. 

Burridge substitute Dan Allen scores a late consolation goal.
White Horse had travelled in convoy from Totton. They are talkative and boisterous. The majority of their squad are soon kitted up and ready before most of us have even arrived at Burridge. I fill our club bottles up with water from the cold tap of the disabled toilets, trying to make sense of their conversations in the away team dressing rooms. It's not so much what they were saying,  but the enthusiasm in which they are saying it. They are having fun. Yes, it would be later proved they have one or two odious characters within their ranks, the kind you wouldn't be too upset about if they were to suffer some small misfortune, but this is men's football, not the operatic society.

Speaking in the West-End Brewery, Kristian Hewitt recalled a bad spell he had whilst playing for Compton. After another defeat the manager went around each player in turn, asking them to give their opinion on why things were going wrong. A selection of fairly glib answers followed until it was Kristian's older brother, Jamie's turn. Not one to be described as a shrinking violet, Jamie said that the problem stemmed with the manager himself. That manager didn't last much longer. If we were to apply the same logic then I would be out on my ear after only one game in charge.

With Paul Dyke on holiday in Egypt, I am manager. I decide to freshen things up by introducing one or two slight variations to our pre-match warm-up. However, by the looks of some of our players this has the opposite effect. The first-half is fairly equal, with several opportunities for both sides. Ryan Jones makes one save, diving to his left to push a header wide of the post, that draws White Horse's manager to throw his cigarette down in disgust. “Where did you get him from?” He asks me on several occasions throughout the afternoon. White Horse's goalkeeper, although somewhat taller than Jones, looks nervous. Three times he comes to collect a cross and fails to do so on each occasion. Kristian Hewitt is unfortunate to firstly see his lofted free-kick tipped unconvincingly onto the cross-bar, and then not get a corner kick. It was a weakness we failed to capitalise on.

The players come in at half-time disappointed not to be winning. However, such is the level of confidence at present, the game as a meaningful contest is effectively over once White Horse open the scoring from a header in the second-half. One goal soon becomes two, as White Horse begin to enjoy themselves, rattling the crossbar in the process. I decide to play my hand with a double substitution. These plans are slightly jeopardised when right-back, Sam Hewitt signals that he had a knock. I revert to a 3-5-2 formation, but in doing so I hesitate with exactly how I am going to reshuffle the midfield. White Horse's left-back seems to take pleasure in this. “Do you know what you're doing?” He asks. I didn't give him the satisfaction of a reply. One or two other players join in, as I quickly became the butt of their jokes. I had endured a brief glimpse into the daily life of Arsene Wenger, and I didn't care for it.

Jones blots his copy book slightly when he concedes a penalty. A two goal lead has done nothing to White Horse's bedside manner, as they insist Jones should be sent off. He gets a yellow. White Horse then score from the spot. At this stage I'm just hoping we can keep the score down. I give Dan Allen a ten minute run out. He has spent the second-half marooned in the one place substitutes fear above all else - stranded on the far side of the pitch as linesman. His reward is a late consolation goal - following in to hook high into the net. This makes him an unlikely joint top scorer with two. However, the goal brings the mutest of celebrations. This Saturday Burridge travel to Christchurch in the Hampshire Cup.

4-4-2: GK:Jones, LB:Judd, CB:Brown, CB:Hurst, RB:S.Hewitt (Esfandiari), RM:Ingram (Allen), CM:Barnett, CM:K.Hewitt, LM:Pye, CF:Schwodler (Fielder), CF:Rowe

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