Thinkers get that winning feeling

Inter Aztec 1 PFFC 3

Filippo, 26 November 2000


Bright day, strong wind, Astroturf pitch … page 131 of the A-Z.

Inter Aztec seem a classic pub team: couple of overweight lads, some shaved heads with earrings, tattoos etc. They have a match programme. Which is nice.

We start stylishly, creating chances ready to be squandered. This’ll be the Leitmotiv of the match. Some nice, accurate, defence-cutting passes generate more than a problem for the five-bellies Aztec defenders. PF shows class football, but the first half ends goalless.

The Gaffer decides to leave his mark on the game and switch Ian and Richard. The former keeper and former central defender seems to be much more comfortable in the director’s cabin and starts to set the pace of the PF game, combining with ‘dynamo’ Raj.

Some other chances are wasted, but at last a scramble closed by Joe gives PF the lead.

The Philosophers seems in control but, as always, a couple of defensive mistakes are just round the corner of the PF mansion. Believe it or not, Aztec manage to level the game through a great run of their sub Caniggia, the double of our Tony Batt, just shorter. He won’t do anything else.

We tremble a bit and, thanks to Rob the Cat saving a vicious chip from an Aztec chap who is clean through, we stay level.

Adrenaline flows alongside frustration, because we all know that going home with a draw from page 131 of the A-Z would be interpreted by the tabloids and the people who take care of us as a terrible deception.

A bit of anarchy enters the field, without any notice from the Gaffer, who’s running up and down the flank to support PF as if he was on the field. We adopt a 3-4-3 system with Filippo often inside the opponents’ box. In one of these offensive projections, the Latin defender decides to play it dirty, diving deliberately as soon he receives a deep pass inside the box.

A great act, but the audience seems not to appreciate it, let alone understand it. It’s a hell of a nightmare. The fish’n’chips eaters really don’t like the gesture and start to chase the Ravanelli-like bastard. Pushing and shoving, no punches luckily, with this Italian running away with a couple of opponents on his back. With his approximate English the supercheater tries to explain to the code-of-honour-disciples that it’s not easy to erase 20 years of Italian football within just three games on the Island, and somehow gets a result. The chase is stopped, the ref doesn’t even book him and in a couple of minutes his team-mates, perhaps worried that he could have another try, score a couple of photocopy goals.

Chris on the right, ball on the left, inside the box, tap in by Richard. Richard on the right, ball on the right, inside the box, tap in by Chris. First victory of the season in the league. Nel calcio contano i risultati. In football only the result counts. But how tiring!

PAGELLE (0­10, 6 is sufficient)

Rob: 7.5 The Roscio (ginger in Italian) is called into action just once and he saves the team. Adorable.

Joe: 6+ Dennis Irwin is slightly less effective than in other games, but no danger comes from his side for PF.

Adam: 7 What a professional. Came from Birmingham, played the game, went back home. Like he’s having a cup of coffee at lunch time. Easy.

Paul: 6.5 Best player in town, sometimes seems to look for danger when things could be managed in an easier way. Excess of confidence, typical of great players. Half mark deducted for a back heel that ended in an assist for the opponents.

Filippo: 6 5 in the first half, where he seems to be still in his bed, and 7 for the second half, where he runs up and down trying to sort things out. That dive should mean a mark deducted but we reward him for the passion. Anyway, don’t do it anymore.

Jez: 7 His best game since we’ve been following him. The switch of flanks gave him more confidence. More lively and effective. Go on like this.

Raj: 7 Dynamo never lets you down. In the first half he has to ‘sing and to carry the cross’. In the second half, with Ian on his side he’s much more free to lend his energy where it is much needed.

Richard: 6.5 When he understands how to place all his power and pace and weight onto the game, he’ll be our ‘ace in the sleeve’. On the rampage.

Ian: 7.5 Man of the match for the second week in a row, despite changing three roles in 180 minutes. Annoying how he could fit here and there. Someone told us he’s even good as a keeper. Perhaps PF has found the man who gives the much-needed passion to its often too polite midfield. If he keeps his mind free enough to release the ball in a reasonable amount of time (a couple of touches should be enough), he’ll take many chestnuts out of the fire for PF in the future.

Stefano: 5.5 Half mark added for the passion and as an encouragement. In France they call them jours sans and this was one of those. (Rob, please, don’t say “Unlucky!” any more when one of us shoots wide with the goalie already at the pub.)

Chris: 6 One goal and one assist in a 3-1 victory. If you read it like this he should be man of the match! But this happened in the last five minutes: please, don’t mention the other 85.

Geoff: 7 Twice on the field to replace Ian, initially late and then floored by cramps, the Gaffer ended his longest week as a manager with a decisive move on the chessboard and the first three league points in his pocket.

A day to remember.