Reds show promise in opening salvo
Rogue FC 3 PFFC 1
A new season for PFFC, with a new captain and some new faces, began on Monday night at Willesden. Turn-out and performances had been good at 5-a-side practice throughout the summer and the excitement of a fresh season was evident as vice captain Kieran led the team in a warm-up session before our opening match against a new team who had already won their opening four matches of the campaign.
With 16 players to choose from in a very strong squad, PFFC lined up with Matt in goal, Owen at left back, Tony at right back and Phil and Vipul in central defence. Mauro and Damian formed the central midfield partnership with Ally playing on the left of midfield and Tom on the right. Clarkey and Kieran started up front. Conrad, José, Andy and newcomers Andrea and Ronjon started on the bench.
The match – and the season – began with a great deal of promise as Philosophy spent the first ten minutes of the game in the opponent's half of the pitch, winning most of the early tackles and headers to put some pressure on the Rogue FC defence. The whole team had got themselves straight into the game, passing well to feet, talking to the player with the ball and creating some half chances. Indeed, we were well into the match before Rogue FC had made keeper Matt touch the ball.
The back four were playing well as a unit, cutting out through-balls and cancelling out a good forward partnership and a tricky number 9, behind them, always looking for space. Mauro and Damian took it in turns to sit in front of the defence and try to snuff out any runs from said player, with Phil and Vipul tidying up well behind. The plan worked for nearly half an hour before Rogue FC scored. They had been getting back into the game and the match was evenly poised when they scored, and it was great to see every PFFC player determined to get back into the game and not to let their heads drop.
Again, PFFC played most of the football in the opponent's half. One excellent move between Mauro, Owen, Ally and Kieran resulted in a ball into the area from the left and Kieran putting his shot just wide of the post. This chance brought more pressure on the opponents and, soon afterwards, a free kick from Damian was flicked past the oncoming keeper by Kieran to bring the scores level, which was thoroughly deserved.
It could have been 2-1 to Philosophy soon after. Kieran never gave up chasing the ball among the Rogue back four and eventually forced a mistake. His effort should have been rewarded with a goal, but sadly his shot went wide. The game had really livened up and it looked like it would be level at half time, but from a good move down the left, the Rogue FC winger crossed the ball into the box for one of the strikers to volley home with an excellent finish, which left PFFC going into half time a goal down.
Once more, though, heads didn't drop, and the second half was again a very close affair. Clarkey moved to right midfield and Conrad came on for Tom. With the wind against them, PFFC were keeping the ball to feet and again playing some neat football with Mauro winning the vast majority of the ball in the centre of the pitch and Kieran and Conrad causing problems for the defence. Andrea came on for an injured Damian and the Italian central midfield partnership looked strong with the match still very close and mostly half-chances occurring at both ends. José then came on for Clarkey and PFFC really began to push for the equaliser. Sadly, however, it never came, and with a few minutes of the match remaining, the scoreline changed to 3-1, as PFFC were harshly punished as they tried to grab a goal with time running out.
Full-time came yet still, overall, the mood was rightly upbeat. With players looking tired after the first match, a post match warm-down began and finished quite quickly, but from now on, every player should warm down properly after the match. Overall, this was an excellent team performance – especially for the first match of the season – against one of the better teams we'll face all season. Our football, especially on the deck, was very good at times considering this was our first match for several months. Heads didn't go down when we went behind, and the encouragement on the pitch was fantastic throughout the entire match.
If we can show the same level of commitment in all our games, we'll have an excellent season.
PFFC (4-4-2): Matt; Tony, Phil, Vipul, Owen; Tom (Conrad 55'), Damian (Andrea 60'), Mauro, Ally; Clarkey (José 70'), Kieran
Subs not used: Andy, Ronjon
Man of the match: Vipul Bhakta