Reds fail to shine in new-look league
Athletico Chips 4 PFFC 2
First match of the season for Philosophy against one of the teams that were restructured to the new look London Midweek League. Now comprising of three divisions of ten teams, Philosophy are in Division One along with their opponents, Athletico Chips. Last season we did the double over Chips, 4-1 domination on an icy pitch late November and then a hard fought 2-1 win in early June. Spirits were high due to a 16 man squad (all turning up early!) and a warm welcome back to ‘little Bryan’ and to new players Alan and Roberto.
Disaster No.1: PFFC started in a 4-4-2 formation as above and all was well for the opening two minutes. Chips play the ball towards the goal-line and Bryan doing what all good defenders do, shields the ball out of play. However, an over exuberant Chips striker challenges for the ball and in doing so pushes him towards the fence behind the goal. It takes about 30 seconds for the team to realise that Bryan has now cut his head and bleeding from the wound. Bryan is taken to the side of the pitch; first aid is called and patches him up. The advice is that Bryan needs stitches plus a trip to the local A&E Department. Reluctantly (but wanting to continue on) Bryan leaves to get his injury seen to without having touched the ball.
Philosophy has been down to 10 men while all this has taken place and this would be an omen for the second half. Gaffer makes a change substituting Rino for Bryan but the team are not gelling and look nervous for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Chips pressure tells in a move down their left hand side, some neat interplay and a Chips striker side footing the ball from just outside the area into the bottom left hand corner of the Philosophy goal. This is followed by a second goal some 10 minutes later headed in from a corner.
Talk at half time is that the next goal is crucial. Second substitution with Robert replacing Mikey at half time and Philosophy start brighter, holding and moving the ball around well. Then the move of the game, Roberto picks the ball up just before the half way line on the right, cuts past two players before moving past a third and releasing the ball into the path of Clarkey who holds and picks out Mauro on the left hand side outside the area. Mauro has one defender to beat and curls the ball just past him into the right hand corner. The keeper makes a one handed save and Clarkey follows up. 1-2 and the ‘Red Men’ are back in the game.
What happens next will be talked about for sometime to come. A contentious free kick is given to Chips from an alleged handball by Ally about 10 yards outside the area. Marco4 is lining up his wall and the kick is taken quickly, hits the top of the bar and rebounds back into a path of a Chips striker. He smashes the ball into the path of the oncoming Vipul, ball hits the hand and a penalty is given. The referee books Owen for dissent and the penalty is saved by Marco4 but rebounds into the path of the same striker who puts the ball away. To add insult to injury, Chips add a fourth a few minutes later from a low corner which goes in off our keeper. 4-1 down with 25 minutes to go and Gaffer makes his final substitution with Andy coming on Mauro. Rino is pushed upfront and Philosophy now 3-5-2 with Andy on the right.
Disaster No.2: Owen makes a last ditch tackle for his second yellow and second red card in his career. The game isn’t over yet and Philosophy continue to press with Andy providing pace and energy down the right. From this comes the second goal, with Andy pressing down the right, some neat interplay with Rino, Clarkey and Andy, culminating in a shot that squeezes in the right hand side of the goal and a debut goal for Andy. “Come on the Reds” is the cry and the ten men continue to press the Chips goal. Rino comes close with a looping header cleared off the line and Dodo has a headed goal disallowed for a push.
A disappointing start to the season despite the squad to choose from but the lack of match fitness and concentration told in the end. Chips had started their season before us and looked brighter and sharper in the first half. The positive side is that the team kept their heads up and created chances while down to ten men.