A strong but rusty start
Inter Aztec 2 PFFC 3
The battle of Hampton Court took place last Sunday, with three sending-offs, two injured players but only one winner: Philosophy Football.
In a fully packed car, Gaffer and Gafferino negotiated the way to another early kick-off in the wilderness of Molesey with only minor detours; so the whole PF team was on the pitch on time, scoring an important psychological advantage, whereas the home team started with one man short. When they were finally at full strength, PF might have been two goals in front, with one shot narrowly missing the target and another one being cleared off the line. Nevertheless the first goal was not long in coming. An attack seemed to have broken down, when the ball fell to Ally on the edge of the penalty area; his ferocious drive was helped by Inter Aztec's goalkeeper onto the bar, the ball bounced back into the field and Neil pounced on it. Inter Aztec reacted with some quick attacks, but their much-hyped young striker was dealt with expertly by our centre-backs. Niggly encounters in midfield. After 25 minutes, Ally was launched on the right and scored his first league goal for PF with a crisp shot. Some minutes later, Joe cleared on the line. Tempers frayed, and Owen stopped his attacker with a not very well timed tackle, whereupon his opponent threatened to plant his studs in Owen's face. The referee managed to keep the lid on the boiling pot, but a yellow card to Owen was inevitable. Some minutes later Owen was again too late with a tackle; Inter Aztec's second striker retaliated, a kerfuffle with pushing and shoving ensued, with Inter Aztec's captain trying to take justice into his own hands. Philosophical it wasn't: oh, what sweet memories came into mind of the leafy suburbs of Brussels! The referee reacted swiftly with one red card to the retaliating striker and a second yellow card to Owen. Half-time came not before time.
After the interval, Keir came on for Richard, and debutant Steve converted to left-back. With the first attack, Inter Aztec scored in a goal-mouth scramble. Tight encounters, another yellow card, this time to Paul; after 15 minutes Richard was brought on again, this time for Stefan. PF needed another goal-line clearance to stay in front, and then extended the lead with the best move of the game. Richard won the ball in midfield, passed onto the left wing where Neil exchanged neat passes with Ally, finishing with Neil slotting the ball home. PF had some breathing space, marred by another yellow card to Filippo, and shortly afterwards – fairly surprisingly – a second yellow card to him, although the game had by now calmed down considerably. PF was down to nine men. Dealing with a cross, Rob clattered his own defender Steve, the ball fell loose and Inter Aztec were only one goal behind. Neil missed a glorious chance to finish the game off and Stefan had to come on again instead of the injured Steve for the last fifteen minutes. Inter Aztec exerted some pressure, but they seemed, inexplicably, reluctant to commit themselves to an all-out attack, so PF held on with not too many alarms.
Not one of our most accomplished performances, but gutsy/professional/solid/spirited etc. The defence adapted to all the necessary changes, and there was a promising understanding between Ally and Neil. We couldn't really complain about the two sending-offs – both times, the second bookable offence seemed fairly innocuous, but in the heated situation the referee did the right thing to calm tempers down.
Hopefully, Steve's bruised ribs will make a swift recovery, as will Owen's injured pride.
PFFC (4-4-2): Rob; Joe, Filippo, Paul, Owen; Richard, Ally Clow, Raj, Steve Whall; Neil, Stefan.