Reds kick off season with a win
PFFC 4 Inter Sutton 2
This was an exciting and promising start to the season for PFFC. The Reds began their 2011/12 season on their new home ground at South Park, SW6 with a welcome for three new squad members: Kadeem in goal, Emilio in midfield and James as a striker. Damian also made a welcome return after a season out with injury. The weather was perfect for what was going to become an enjoyable match for the hosts. Unfortunately, due to a no-show from our referee, Mario (first half) and Emilio (second half) had to take turns to referee the game.
The two teams met last January only a stone’s throw away at Hurlingham Park. That game finished with a 5-1 loss for PFFC. On that occasion PFFC had no regular keeper, so Khan and Andy took up keeping duties, and this and a number of other factors meant that the Reds found it hard to keep a determined Inter Sutton from maximising their game. This Sunday, however, it was a different story.
The Reds played with a 4-2-3-1 formation. The opening few minutes saw both teams struggle to dominate possession. It wasn’t until the tenth minute that an unlucky bounce just outside PFFC’s penalty area allowed an Inter player to shoot from the middle to the top left of the goal (0-1: Inter Sutton 10'). Inter keep pressing after this, but were kept at bay by a stalwart defence and excellent keeping by Kadeem on his debut. Then PFFC regrouped and got into their stride, with better passing and movement off the ball. The wide pitch suited PFFC’s passing game, Emilio and Ally especially putting in good performances in the midfield. The Reds’ equaliser came from a brilliant slide and pass from Henry to Andy to keep the ball in play; Andy then passed to Ally who switched to Ömer and then to Matt, who beat their right back and rounded the keeper (1-1: Matt 20'). Just before the end of the first half PFFC failed to clear the ball from their penalty area, the half clearance got to their striker who was given too much time to control the ball and drive it into our top left corner (1-2: Inter Sutton 40').
In the second half PFFC completely controlled the midfield, stealing balls and making decisive tackles. The gap between the back four and the midfield that had been a problem last season was not an issue in this match. Playing in the central midfield role, Ally got his head on practically all the balls sent over by the Inter Sutton goalie. Ömer and Henry tore along the along the wings, linking with Leandro and Matt to produce multiple efforts on goal. Kadeem was in control of his goal, and provided good service to the fullbacks and further up-field. I could devote a lot more space to the quality of passing, movement and communication that was the hallmark of PFFC’s second-half performance.
PFFC’s second equaliser came when Henry got the ball on the right wing, got past the left-back and cut inside another player before thumping the ball high above their keeper's left (2-2: Henry 46’). PFFC took charge for the following half hour; two clearances off the line and countless other chances as Ally, Damian, and Leandro dominated the midfield and Matt, Henry or Ömer looked likely to score from every attack. PFFC hit the bar, Inter Sutton's keeper made a great one-handed save from Ömer's deflection and finally Matt rounded their right-back for about the tenth time; this time the defender mistimed his slide tackle and brought Matt down for a PFFC penalty. Henry took the spot kick and smashed the ball high into the top left corner for the third (3-2: pen. Henry 80’). For the final ten minutes PFFC were playing against an opposition which had broken down and were playing without formation. Matt scored the fourth soon after and, just before the final whistle, Ömer hit the bar with a cheeky chip (4-2: Matt 82’).
The post-match atmosphere was one of victory and encouragement, tempered with acknowledgement that there are still area in which we need to improve. The sign-off talk was to continue along this path, keep training and importantly keep up the good turnouts for all future games. Without exaggeration, the Reds could have easily scored an extra four or five goals in the second half. It could be said that this result was a statement of intent for this season. Before the game a PFFC player had overheard one of the Inter Sutton players saying that this game was going to be ‘easy’; as another PFFC player said after the game, it certainly was ‘easy’. It has been quite a while since the Reds won their opening match, so there’s plenty to celebrate and take to the next game.
(4-2-3-1): Kadeem; Andy (first
half), Andrea (c), Damian (first
half), Owen; Ally, Emilio (first
half); Henry, Matt (first
half), Ömer; James (first
Subs: Khan (45'), Mario (45'), Leandro (45')