Goals Galore AND a Clean Sheet … Equals A Smiling Gaffa

Martin Park

Having recently played against the newly formed Alphington 55’s in a pre-season friendly, City were fully aware of the tough and dangerous opposition they were about to face in what was to be just our second game of the season.

Not satisfied with our successes of the past 2 years and in pursuit of even more silverware, coach Jenkins has recently added to the depth of the City squad, introducing a number of new faces to the team.  It would appear that this has also given the “Gaffa” and his selection panel a number of headaches in respect to the starting line-up and this was highlighted on Monday by the perplexing decision to start Park at right back after his masterclass at centre forward last week.

None the less, as the players prepared themselves in the change rooms, you could sense that everyone was switched on and ready for a big night, that is if you exclude the players discussing the great portraits they had commissioned during a recent holiday in Vietnam, the nameless player who had forgotten his shin pads, players complaining about the sizing of their shorts and the committee member trying to palm off raffle tickets to the starting 11 before the game.

Looking around at City warming up on the pitch, there was this nagging question, would the new talent which included, Cooper, White, Davidson and Whitton gel with the old.  Would the chemistry be right?

The “Gaffer” must have been thinking the same as after the customary pre-game photo had been taken, he made the wise decision to tweak his formation, informing Park with only 30 seconds to prepare that he was now playing up front.

The game kicked off at 6.30 pm and a slippery dew had already set on the surface making conditions a little tricky.  City got off to a reasonable start trying to play some possession football but this was made challenging at times by the slick surface. The first 15 minutes were tense with a number of half chances presented to both teams.  Eventually the game settled and some intricate passing down the left led to a goal mouth scramble. The ball was half cleared to near the penalty spot and allowed Park to slot home for a 1 -0 lead.

Only a few minutes later, and after the defence had held strong to an Alphington attack, City countered with a fast break. Whitton was played through, and with a defender in pursuit and the keeper advancing he caught all by surprise with an early toe poke from the edge of the box, squeezing it underneath the keeper and into the net 2-0.

Although they presented little danger in the front half, it would be unfair if it wasn’t highlighted that Alphington also had good passages of play and a fair amount of the ball.  There was a good 10 minute passage where they dominated possession, before they were demoralised by my nomination for goal of the game. Again City had possession down the left hand side before a ball was looped towards the back post.  After what seemed like an eternity, Sinclair took a few steps back before launching himself at the ball and scoring a great header reminiscent of Dixie Dean 3-0.

Shortly before half time, the score was extended to 4-0 after some excellent chasing down of what appeared to be a lost ball by Caridi. He laid the ball back to Cooper who struck a delightful shot, (or was it a cross?) from out on the right touch line. The keeper back peddled but had been caught by surprise and could only watch as the ball sailed in at the back post.

At half time there seemed to be some confusion within the ranks as the discussions and lack of satisfaction from within the team would have led others to believe we were 4-0 down. Or is this the sign of a good team urging for more from their colleagues?

For the first 30 minutes of the second half City enjoyed plenty of attacking possession however there was no change to the score and nothing remarkable about the game except for the sliding Bruce Lee tackle by Cooper. This all changed with the re-introduction of Whitton who went on to score 2 goals late in the game from 1 v 1 positions with the keeper.  Some say his 3rd goal was possibly offside but I am assured by the linesman that it was a perfectly good goal.

Last season’s top scorer Caridi was getting agitated and as he lined up to take a shot, a desperate challenge saw his legs removed, and a penalty awarded. With Gaffa making the call, Cooper slotted home making up for a previous offside goal that the VAR/Referee overruled a well-positioned Brownie.

And so it ended 7-0.  In summary, the defence led by Attwood in goal, Snowball, Rathner, Jenkins and Sinclair were rock solid for most of the night only offering a few half chances to the Alphington forward line.  Our engine room of Emery, Davidson, Cooper, White and Hughes battled hard all night, demanded the ball and launched numerous attacks displaying the class they possess, and our forward line did what was expected and tucked the ball away 7 times.

Make no mistake, Alphington are a good team and a good bunch of lads. The game was played in the right spirit and I expect them to take a lot of points from the good teams this year. On a different day the game could have been a lot closer.

MMM Memorable moment – Sinclair’s pre-game warm up routine – reaching down his shorts to find something he’d lost! His smile said it all!!
MMM Muppet moment – Sims’ handbags at 10 paces ‘pushing match’ with an opponent twice his size!
BMW BoP Ronnie Whitton – for managing to keep his balls in tact this week, scoring a hat-trick and shocking us all with finally finding a use for his right boot!!