Sunday, 11 September 2011

Comrades reserves 1-2 Burridge (after extra time)

Burridge needed extra time to reach the second round of the Trophyman Senior League Cup at Wide Lane on Saturday afternoon. This blog was written while getting word that Burridge's Mark Reeves, who played yesterday, had completed his 83 mile bike ride from London to Southampton in six hours.

Paul Dyke has plenty to say at half-time. Dave Williams who is watching, condenses his description of the first-half to one word - gash. We sit on the wet grass, drinking tap water, as Dyke dissects our performance. He has no qualms betraying a confidence in order to get his point across to team captain, Martyn Barnett; who he thinks is having a quiet game. "It's no good texting me saying: skip's up for it today," says Dyke, "I want to see a captain's performance." By this point, Kristian Hewitt is sniggering. That Martyn had been texting his manager, not only in the third person, but in a shortened version of his new title, was the green light for what will surely be a prolonged spell of teasing.

We'd still had our moments during the first-half. Ryan Hurst won just about everything in the air from our corner kicks, and on another day Marc Judd would have almost certainly given us the lead. In the absence of both Lee Fielder and Ben Rowe, Judd was pushed up-front, alongside Sam Schwodler. Judd found himself through on Comrades' goal with only time and space for company. The amount of which at his disposal allowed him to consider the full raft of methods in which to score. Unfortunately, he was unable to reach a decision. What resulted was a combination of lob and strike which went some way over the crossbar. From there on in the service toward him dried up.

The second-half brings few obvious signs of improvement. Comrades then bring on a beanpole midfielder, who opens the scoring with fifteen minutes left. Various opportunities to clear our lines are missed, and the Comrades substitute, who had run from deep, hooks the ball well over Jones' head. By this time, we too had made both of our substitutions - bringing on Paul Andrews and Daniel Esfandiari - and reverting to a back three of Kristian Hewitt, Ryan Hurst and Dan Allen. Despite the change of both personnel and formation, an equaliser seems unlikely. The game is stretched, we looked tired and defeat seems inevitable.

Dan Allen has no shortage of suitors when he cuts in from the left with a little over five minutes remaining. Quite what he's doing outside Comrades' penalty area from his position in the back three is anyone's guess. He then evades the best efforts of two defenders; and, against the general consensus of his team mates, strikes a twenty-five yard right-footed strike that Comrade's goalkeeper doesn't see until it is in his net. Later, over two huge dinner plate of barbecue chicken wings at the West-End Brewery, there would be some debate on whether the 'keeper should have done better in stopping Dan's shot go in. On reflection, it was the speed in which he decided to shoot and the pace on the ball itself that probably beat the goalkeeper, who'd already demonstrated he wasn't clueless by somehow denying Chris Pye what looked certain to be a headed equaliser. Debates and discussions are the last thing on Dan's mind. He runs off, chased by the entire team, including either Mark Reeves or Sam Hewitt, who have abandoned their post as linesman to enjoy this moment.

There's a collective sense throughout our team that Comrades have blown their stack. Finally we have the much needed impetus to go on and win the game. During extra-time Paul Andrews plays a useful cameo up front, making himself a focal point in linking up play between midfield and attack. Barnett then repays his manger's faith, threading a thirty yards pass through to Sam Schwodler, who still has his work cut out when running through on goal. He gives the ball a good thump and sees it nestles in Comrades net. The relief is tangible.

To their credit, Comrades have one last throw of the dice, but much of their energy is put into cod psychology, specifically in their insistence that Kristian Hewitt doesn't want the ball ' back there,' despite various dips of shoulders and side stepping that seem to clearly demonstrate to the contrary in his new position of last line of our defence. There's still time for more goalscoring chances. Chris Pye, who proved a constant threat, is unfortunate to see his lob return into play from the underside of the crossbar. Once again, we hadn't played particularly well. Hard work and a moment of inspiration had got us over the line.

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Other Trophyman cup results can be seen by clicking here. Also, anyone wishing to pass some time during their lunch hour can go to WH Smith, and most other newsagents, to read an article of mine about The Dell, which is published in the pages of this month's When Saturday Comes Magazine.

4-4-2: GK: Ryan Jones, LB: Dan Allen, CB: Sam Hewitt (Daniel Esfandiari) CB:Ryan Hurst, RB: Mark Reeves (Paul Andrews), LM: Kristian Hewitt, CM: Mark Sanderson, CM: Martyn Barnett (capt), RM; Chris Pye, CF: Marc Judd, CF: Sam Schwodler.

This changed to 3-4-3: GK: Ryan Jones, DF: Dan Allen, DF: Ryan Hurst, DF: Kristian Hewitt, RM:Daniel Esfandiari, CM: Mark Sanderson, CM: Martyn Barnett (capt), LM: Marc Judd, CF: Sam Schwodler, CF: Paul Andrews, CF: Chris Pye.

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