Wet Windy Win

Roving reporter – Paul Em

Against new side Ashburton, the 2018 season kicked off with a tough opening tester on real yesteryear grass and mud. Informed by new secret agent M’s pitch intel, Captain Mainwaring’s motivating team talk suggested something about winning today would be about being a good flanker and of course how to salute an officer!

However, with rain falling and no one wanting to get their new boots dirty, the first ten minutes of the match saw the home team the stronger of the two. Fortunately with a new time out included this season (to check under age arm bands), this allowed Sergeant Wilson’s northern equivalent (Glenn) to install his “don’t panic” and “stop the … ball” philosophy to the troops. This led to some good possession by City for the rest of the half and some simple football being played down both flanks. Private Jeremy would advance with the ball, perfectly releasing it to ‘I’ve got all the time in the world Parks’, whose telling passes then continually opened up Ashburton’s defence.

Similarly with our own very solid and experienced defensive line up of Jeremy, Gary, Eric, and Ray, Big John was rarely called into action in the first half. Although there was one interesting and potential ‘Muppet Moment’ where Big John somehow managed to slice a goal kick behind his own goal line for another goal kick!!

Absorbing the early pressure, with strong dominant heading abilities demonstrated by Lance Corporal Erica and Midget Man Ray, allowed the Gaffa to use his long penetrating passes to push their defence back. This in turn created more time and control in the mud battle of the central midfield. With the Sarge now releasing our super quick left side of play, Privates Raymondo, Johno, and Ricardo/Mo, meant that even the old wounded man Emmo could make some penetrating runs forward. Although on one occasion he ran out of pitch, muttering something about “why aren’t Specsavers sponsoring us?”

With regular good inter plays between midfield and a mobile attack, it was only a matter of time before City’s first goal of the season arrived. With piercing passes to feet down the left, Parksie nearly scored a hat-trick in ten minutes. First from a well floated Rick corner, where his header went just wide. This was unlike last week where in a similar position he finished it with ease … in his own net. Then Little John’s fast feet played a good ball to Rick, who flicked it to Maurice to release a defence splitting pass to Martin. With just the keeper to beat Martin hit a well struck and low shot on target, but Ashburton’s goal keeper was equal to the task. A similar move occurred two minutes later and once again the goalkeeper denied Parksie the opener.

As their defence tightened, City needed some real magic to break the deadlock. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Maurice dummied left and then right, and having confused the defender with his best dance moves, played his Mojo (the Maurice lemons effect). Striking the ball cleanly and with venom, the defender then somehow removed both of Maurice’s legs and at the same time deflected the powerful shot to the underside of the bar and bounce in. With Maurice in a supine position on the turf, believing he was Charlie George the second or still appealing for a free kick … surprisingly no one came to his rescue, such was the Legends’ resolve to chase the second. A little more sympathy though was given to Little John who after another gallant run down the left pulled up holding his hammy and limped off to the changing room. This bought ‘M’ into the attack to make his new Legend status debut and nearly with his first touch his header was deflected over for another corner. Despite a further 10 minutes of City dominance, and one Ashburton player heard to say “Thank God for that whistle”, the half-time score was 1-0.

With loyal travelling supporters lining the wide pitch (well opposite each other and I believe one was walking his dog), the multi-positional Stu and ever reliable stalwart Ron entered the play. The first 10 minutes though appeared to be a competition for both the ‘Muppet and Miss Moment’ of the match. Firstly, Stu Mc went on an imaginary dribble, unfortunately not realising that he had left the ball behind. And then good support work on the right by advancing Ron, helped to release Paul get behind their defence. Learning now where the by line was, Paul drew the goalkeeper and laid the ball to the tightly marked Rick, who cleverly stepped over it as Maurice was completely free at the penalty spot. All I can say was, there was no purpose of the empty net … as the ball tried to knock the sleeping twittering birds from the old oak tree twenty metres away. At least the obscenities heard from Mo were an amusing interlude for the next ten minutes. But this week’s “Muppet Moment of the Match” goes to Bro Jenkins. With no players around him, Debut boy at full speed set off to chase a ball down to the right corner flag. Despite all his pitch reconnaissance, he didn’t understand that a ball rolls down a hill quickly and he had no chance to get it. As the ball raced out of play it was as if either a mole had tripped him or the disturbed twittering birds had hired a sniper to get their revenge. Either way he fell like a sack of potatoes and thoroughly deserves the MMM award which comes with writing this match report next week!

As the game progressed, Ashburton pushed further forward and enjoyed a lengthy spell of pressure in the second half. Our strong defence held true and credit must additionally be given to The Real Tito (Dennis) who stuck to his man like glue, Zebedee (Ray) who regularly just hung and out jumped his opponent, and the Masterful Brian (faster than a train) global import Ron. And continuing the Magic roundabout theme, let us not forget Dylan (Big John) who highlighted impeccable positional sense throughout the game and with two stops on the line in the last five minutes helped City take the first three points of the season.

In summary, on a relatively strange surface to what we are used to, this was a gutsy, tiring performance against a useful and determined team. Thank you to ALL supporters who braced the elements and of course Eric for washing what might just be the muddiest kit of the year. In the words of the Gaffa … True Legends!

MMM Muppet Moment of Match goes to Michael Jenkins
BMW BoP Doncaster’s Best on Park (as chosen by an opposing player) was John Moore