City Slickers Untie United (The United version)
By Steve BrownRound 3 brought the first Doncaster Legends derby of the Season on a chilly autumn evening and a fantastic turnout of players saw the benches packed to the rafters. United’s starting XL was McCulloch, Machin, Attwood, Gough, Stock, Coard, Boyte, Brown, Lamb, Hassan & Crompton with a 5 man bench of Capodistras, Gulec, Singh, Dykes, Whan. United kicked off the game determined to give City, with some new (and old) talent on show a run for their money. A gentle start was soon banished when the Gaffer clattered Brown to the ground in the middle of the park with City clearly intent on stamping (excuse the pun) their authority on the game early. The City midfield started to then exert control through Sinclair & Hughes leaving Boyte, Brown, Coard & Lamb (sounds like a Law Firm in Suits) in the centre for United chasing shadows at times. The midfield dominance saw United’s defence initially withstanding the pressure and City resorted to some fairly tame shots from outside the box which never threatened McCulloch in goal. However, some neat interplay down the City left saw a break into the box and, with the cruellest of luck, a mishit shot fell into the path of Harrison who had escaped the close attention of Machin and he slotted it firmly past McCulloch to open the scoring. This threatened to open the floodgates and with their tails up, City’s forwards were zipping around causing Stock to question why he was playing for United and not City, giving Gough no time to gaze skywards and Attwood making several crucial clearances. City did find the net twice through Valencia but the first was ruled offside after the linesman explained the rules of the game to the mainly inept referee and the second was scratched after a failed plea for handball was then changed into a claim that the ball had crossed the bye line before Valencia poked it into the net which was backed most enthusiastically by the linesman who had a clear view of the situation from his position 100m away. Capodistrias came on for Coard in midfield to try and stem the flow of pressure. A few moments of relief for the United defence saw Crompton race down the left flank and his cross was sliced over the bar for a corner. The incoming ball was gathered safely by Jansen in goal despite the close attention of the Attwood express charging in for a header. Hassan was also trying in vain to unpick the tight City defence and the action once again returned to the other half of the pitch. With half time looming McCulloch pulled off a couple of excellent saves tipping a long range effort over the bar, then punching clear the resultant corner and also scooping up another attempt from just inside the box. However with barely a minute left in the half the United defence was breached for a second time when Hughes slipped through and thumped his shot past the keeper to make the half-time score more reflective of the dominance at 2-0 to City. With the large numbers on the benches it was no surprise that both teams took to the field for the 2nd half with multiple changes although United opted to stick with the same defensive line up they introduced Gulec for Boyte in the holding midfield role, Whan for Lamb on the left and Dykes & Singh replacing the hard running Crompton & Hassan up front. However, the second half started pretty much in the same manner that the first ended with City pressing hard on the United defence and it looked fairly bleak when Machin upended Mr everywhere Sinclair in the box only for the referee to somehow award a direct free kick instead of a penalty which ultimately was cleared without further threat to the United goal. With the whole United team being forced deeper and deeper Brown managed to pick up a couple of loose City passes on the edge of the box and tried to find a way out through Singh on the right but with keeper Janssen residing in the centre circle the chances to alleviate the pressure were very short lived. Still the City attacks came and an early contender for miss of the season saw Catela picked out at the far post 3m from goal and his well hit shot somehow missed the goal and ended up going out for a throw-in !!! Many more scares ensued on the United goal but McCulloch held firm ably assisted by his resolute back 4 and the posts and bar and a very honest (h)Andy Hughes who engineered himself through on goal with the aid of a crafty handball seen by everyone except the referee. With time edging on the pace started to ease up with City seeming to settle for the win and the final moment of referee madness of the match came when Whan disposed Sinclair on the half way line only to be penalised by the ref much to the incredulity of all watching. Anyway, the result of the first derby of the season was a resounding 2-0 win to City which keeps them clear with a 100% record at the top of the table whilst United remain just off the bottom with 1 point after 3 matches.
|MMM||Memorable Moment – Andy Hughes admitting to controlling the ball with his hand after John McCulloch had tipped his point blank shot over the bar – would he have done the same had his shot gone in ????|
|MMM||Muppet Moment – Well, the referee had several of them and wins this award by a mile with Frank Catela an honourable 2nd.|
|BMW BoP||United’s Best on Park – It has to go to the back 5 of McCulloch, Machin, Attwood, Gough & Stock who withstood a barrage of attacks for pretty much the majority of the game and can hold their heads high that they limited City to only 2 goals.|
Legends were everywhere (The City Version)
By The shorts thiefDelegated the role of the match reporter for the second time in three weeks, this time for walking off with the Legends shorts, I arrived at the ground under a full moon and ready to plea my innocence. However, I walked into the changing rooms only to be met by five police officers and another 12 vagabonds. I immediately started to call my lawyer only to realise he was one of the vagabonds! Clearly this was a local derby between true Legends and everyone who could walk and unfortunately talk, was back in town. Newbies Leo and Ronnie were making their debuts, and the walking wounded included the returning Gideon, Colman and Frank, who were playing their first league games of the season. Who would want to be the Gaffer to select the starting eleven and bench seven? Never one to shirk responsibility, Jenkins (senior) made the tough call. However, in so doing tactics got confused because there were now two Ricks, two Rons, two Pauls, and two Rays – oops this was the initial headlined match making tussle between City’s bull dog and United’s roughest and toughest. With formation strictly established, and a tight first 10 minutes, where was the other centre back? Yes, it appears the Gaffer went AWOL. Twice, he created chances in the forward line. The first he exquisitely demonstrated his dancing feet, and the second, the effects of altitude must have got to him. His flaccid shot barely reached the keeper. The smirking assassin silently returned to the backline, apparently just to make a substitute as injured Martin unfortunately hobbled off. Despite Gideon reporting that he had not kicked a ball in three months, he had a very solid game linking well down the left flank with many good interplays between Ron S, Steve and Michael. As pressure built on the United defence, good work down the right saw a cross land on Jenkins (junior) left foot. His sliced first time shot fortunately went straight to Steve (does this really count as an assist?), who coolly volleyed the ball into the far bottom corner. Another CCI moment to share with the fans (well I think there were two this week so a 50 percent increase). The second goal shortly followed. With Ron W making an immediate impact as a super sub, his very close ball control was suddenly put under examination. It could well have been a Muppet Moment as a surging run from Paul E actually tackled him – yes his own player, just outside the City box. Fortunately it worked as Paul E released a defence splitting pass to the attack minded Andy who eagerly sprinted past the last defender. With just the keeper to beat, ‘The Hood’ (intel reliably informed us that this is his lookalike and is the arch-villain of Thunderbirds) pummelled the ball in the net to celebrate his 61st birthday a day early. With Ron W now linking well with Rick, and both demonstrating some sublime skills on the ball, it wasn’t long before more shots on the United goal ensued. It looked as though both had started their 2018 goal scoring campaign only to learn the ‘blind’ (read ‘eagle eyed’ in the United match report) linesman had disallowed each goal. Despite City’s high possession rate throughout the first half, United resolutely stuck to their task. Their forwards chased on crumbs, but continued to pressure the miserly City defenders. Fortunately City always seemed to have an extra player to release this pressure, often in the form of Ron S who was always readily available. Alternatively keeper Rick additionally showed his competent footwork on a number of occasions. Defensively United were very solid. Playing a tight zone, meant shots from outside the box became the norm. This allowed the two Paul’s to take some long range shots which either glanced the post or were well saved by a very confident looking Johnnie (United keeper). Half time – City 2 United 0 Understandably mass substitutions took place at half time, with the delights of Maurice, Frank, Colman, Glenn and Leo immediately contributing to the free passing City team. Instigated by the solid passing of left back enforcer Glenn and Colman’s silky delivery, the left flank started again to dominate City’s play. Even on one occasion where the passing fell down and the ball was considered lost for a goal kick, a lemon inspired Maurice sprinted a full 40 metres to somehow keep it in play. Likewise the right side took its turn and there was some good interplay between Leo and Frank, whose wisdom found him in so many good positions – just shame that he forgot to wear his shooting specs. Leo similarly showed some good touches although passing to the referee was a potential Muppet Moment to cherish. Indeed, there were many memorable moments from the half vying for this coveted award this week. Contenders include Ron S’s slow motion skittle fall in the box followed by his best attempt to educate the referee on the rules of the game. Not a good idea as he should know on a weekly basis! Rick J’s play making abilities seemed to dominate the centre circle in the second half, until he called for a header, completely missing and it bounced over him. And how could we forget Maurice’s 5 minute mission. He won the ball, tried all his tricks, lost the ball, chased 20 metre to win the ball back and then lost it again. The Gaffer’s colourful language echoed around the ground. In between these amusing interludes there was obviously the real Muppet Moment (see below) and some quality football being played by City. The ball moved from right to left and then back again as City tried desperately to break open the solid United defence. Such play included a couple of speedy Paul C’s well saved shots, Leo’s hitting the cross bar from a well-directed header, Maurice hitting the upright (please be patient with the uploading video), Paul E hitting the side net from 20 metres, and some stalwart defending my Graham’s well martialled troops. Full time – City 2 United 0 Whilst the final score was 2-0 and City dominated the match, United players should be justifiably proud of their determined individual and collective efforts. Likewise spare a thought for both captains who admirably managed the 18 players per side as well as playing impeccable games on the park. True Legends! Needless to say the fun never stopped as the final whistle blew. With no lights in the showers, some of the City team got very close and personal, and the beer/wine/bullshit kept flowing until midnight. Remember to ask Andy about the danger of 3/8 teaspoon of Epsom Salts as he celebrates washing the white shorts on his birthday. And whatever happens NEVER ask Ron S about his hat-trick or his lost marble!
|MMM||Muppet Moment of the Match goes to Frank for complaining that his first mishit shot was because “the ball was flat and on my left foot”; and then two minutes later, with a changed ball and with just the keeper to beat from 8 yards, his right foot shot somehow missed the goal and went for a throw on the left hand side of the pitch! Congratulations – you are next week’s match reporter, assuming of course no one ‘hires’ the Legends shorts for more than 2 hours!!|
|BMW BoP||Ron Sinclair – Not because he didn’t verbally abuse any Legend player (he did the referee). And not because he managed to clearly communicate with Paul (well via sign language and it was only once), but because of his excellent distribution and the ground he covered, both in attack and defence. We learnt afterwards, that this was probably because the miser was looking for his lost marble somewhere!!|