Post World Cup Blues
Jezza – the infamous best selling author of 2018It was a cold and silent dressing room that met your match reporter this week. Apprehension at the night’s game ahead mingled with post-World Cup blues – the ‘what the hell are we going to do with no more late night/early morning international football to watch’ and ‘so it’s back to normal sleeping hours’ kind of blues. While United battled to a hard-earned 3-2 win outside, the Gaffer was inhaling various kinds of drugs supplied by Snowball, ahead of his unusually subdued pre-match talk. Taking to the pitch, the line-up was a snapping-at-the-bit Gid at left back with a sprightly John Moore ahead of him at left-mid. Ray and Martin were on the right, a rheumy gaffer with a determined Snowball in the centre of defence, Frank Catela and Paul Emery ahead of them in centre-mid, with up front Paul ‘Pauli’ Caridi and a prowling Steve H ready to pounce on anything that might come his way. Sprightly John Moore’s cameo performance came to a sudden end a few minutes in, with suspected calf knack, to be replaced by a combative Eric Lamb. The opening exchanges saw some good passing movements by both teams, Gid defending well on the left and Eric finding some space and movement ahead of him. Masters had a few goes at breaking the Gaffer’s and Snowball’s well-orchestrated offside trap but without success. The gaffer than pinged the resulting free-kicks long towards the strikers with similar results. Both teams won corners, but from the City corner Masters broke clear and it was only a great defensive block from Snowball that stopped a fierce shot on goal. A short time later Masters won a free kick out on the left. It was a superb strike from the former Socceroo that evaded Rick’s stretch and found the top corner of the goal. Masters one up. City were trying to respond but finding it difficult to get the ball to the strikers. Eric was being more quickly closed down now on the left. An edge of the box shot from Masters hit the post and landed invitingly for a second shot at pace which Rick saved brilliantly from close range, getting down low. Masters were working hard and finding space on their left. At one point Paul Emery broke out from the centre, exchanged a quick one-two with Pauli and almost got a shot in with the Masters keeper just getting to the ball first. Jimmy came on for Steve. Masters were continuing to press and won a free kick on the right. A well met header was saved by a quickly reacting Rick. Another break by Masters found them with a 2 on 2 in the centre, only a third excellent save by Rick kept them out. In the second half Martin came into the middle, and Frank went out wide right. City won a corner and it was taken quick and short to Martin who put in a fast and teasing cross into the penalty area. Chaos reigned for a few moments until in the goalmouth scramble a few of the City players threw up their hands in triumph as the ball rolled over the line. Was it Frank or Gid or Harry Kane himself who got the final touch? Regardless, it was 1-1. Paul Emery says it was Lowe Lippmann’s Gid, I’m sure we can expect reliable confirmation from a lawyer. Or did Paul say it was God? And does Gid see the distinction anyway? With Jimmy a welcome return there was some good movement against a resolute Masters defence. Jenkins passed to Jimmy, who took one touch from his right foot before striking with his left and the well struck shot was saved by a diving keeper for yet another corner. As city pushed for a winner, Masters were always a threat with their signature counter attacking moves. Martin and Paul Em were also making penetrating diagonal runs through the centre. Masters soon added to the scoreline getting into the box unchallenged and firing in a low, hard shot into the corner. 2-1 to Masters. More Masters pressure followed. The game was opening up with legs tiring. Paul was pushing up and pressuring Masters higher up the pitch. A corner from Martin was well defended by Masters with the ball finding its way to Gary who had a worthwhile crack from distance. A third goal from the Masters followed soon after under circumstances forgotten by your reporter. I’ve only got the word of Paul Em to go by that it was 3-1 at all, see Muppet Moment below. Later, another long ball from Gary found Jimmy at the front whose shot flew well over. A free kick from Gary, well on target, was pushed away by the Masters keeper. With the game opening up even more it was end-to-end stuff, Masters breaking against City pressure which couldn’t quite find the last ball. Slough lad Jezza, aka Jeremy, came on, and being a tad cold by then was forced to run around quickly to get warm, to not much other avail. Steve H came on for Ray who was clearly not tired and could have probably played another couple of games. Martin found Jeremy with a great through ball but Jeremy was bundled off the ball before he could line up a shot by a musclebound hulk of a central defender coming in fast. Jeremy also had a left foot volley sail disappointingly high and wide. After the game, searching for gratitude, the Gaffer remarked on his allowing J to play up front for a few minutes who was heard to reply something to the effect of “Can I have some more please?” All in all a fair and well-fought game that could have gone either way. An excellent effort by City players with many of them having some of their best individual performances to date, or so Paul Em says. Best on park goes to Rick Janssen for a string of excellent saves. Muppet moment to Jeremy for asking for more. And for losing track of things generally after getting a ball kicked in the place where it hurts most.