United’s Endeavours Fall Short

Steve Brown

Round 5 and Doncaster United faced Endeavour Hills on a crisp Monday evening. United’s starting XL was McCulloch, Machin, Attwood, Rathner, Dykes, Whan, Boyte, Stafrace, Lamb, Valencia & Crompton with an initially shortened bench of Gulec & Hassan which then was bolstered by Coard and Capodistrias who was at least 15 minutes earlier (and a few grand lighter – this is what happens when you don’t use our sponsors) than the previous week.

United were keen to continue their winning ways and were met early on with an Endeavour Hills side who were very comfortable on the ball and happily making nice passing patterns through the middle of the park. This meant that the game was being played mainly in the United defensive half and Rathner in particular caught the eye (maybe the wrong turn of phrase here) clearing up at the back.

Some forward relief came when Valencia made a mazy run down the left hand side but unable to find support he was eventually closed down. Dykes snuffed out an Endeavour Hills attack on the right and set Lamb off on a cross field run (semi –jog) where he picked out Crompton racing forward on the right but unfortunately the attempted flick to Whan didn’t come off and the danger was thwarted.

More forward action from Endeavour saw Attwood fail to find Whan after a short goal kick from McCulloch put him under pressure on the edge of the box but to his credit he made amends by clearing away the danger. There followed some explosive action when Valencia bumped an opponent to the ground in the middle of the defensive half which somehow prompted one of the Floodlights to explode. After a short delay to ensure that no glass had landed on the playing surface, the free kick was fired in low on goal which McCulloch fortunately gathered at the third attempt. Another free kick from a nearly identical position saw a shot fired in higher this time and McCulloch elected to punch this one to safety.

A few changes saw Gulec and Hassan come on for Whan and Crompton and this also saw Lamb switch over to the right side of midfield. A promising attack broke down when Stafrace was crowded out in midfield and the danger was cleared by Machin who conceded a corner. This then set up the best move of the game when the corner was cleared to Boyte who released Lamb on the right and he then played back to the strong running Boyte who found Valencia out wide and continued his run into the box to meet Valencia’s cross only to see his headed effort just go wide of the goal.

Unfortunately this spurred on Endeavour Hills and they raced forward finding space on their left and the attacker honed in on goal and placed an exquisite shot right into the corner of the goal to open the scoring. Legends looked for a quick response with subs Gulec releasing Hassan down the left but he was not able to get a shot off on target. We then had some comedy when Lamb (who must have thought he was at work) was manhandled over the touchline for a free kick. This resulted in Boyte setting Stafrace free on the wing and he laid the ball back to Lamb who sent in an aimless cross which was inexplicably headed home over the despairing keeper by a defender with no Legends player within 3 metres to draw scores level. And so at half time the teams went into their huddles at 1-1.

The second half exploded into action when Stafrace tried to upstage Coard in the acting arena going down like a sack of tatties (Scottish for potatoes and a well used phrase in Scottish football journalism similar to being hit by a sniper) whilst holding his head as though he had been partially decapitated by a mad dwarf from Lord of the Rings ( okay his attacker was one of the smaller players on the pitch – even smaller than Ray himself, ). This was then followed by Lamb being cynically taken out on the touchline which ended his involvement for the evening and he didn’t even get a free kick – the video evidence would have proved that Eric wasn’t just a (fairly ordinary) ballerina but apparently the linesman got in the way.

This was then followed by Ray’s Retribution where he joined Santa’s Naughty Boys Club by being booked for unceremoniously dumping Gimli on the far touchline. This prompted the referee to call the two captains together to explain that this was an over 55s soccer match and not the battle for Middle Earth.

Somehow this seemed to change the complexion of the game and Endeavour Hills grabbed control starting to exert a lot more pressure on the United defence and a succession of corners were cleared by a Coard header and a goalmouth scramble. However this only delayed Endeavour Hills regaining the lead and then sadly adding to it as their neat interplay cut through the United defence on many occasions.

This is not to say that United weren’t without their chances with Capodistrias, Crompton and Dykes linking well in midfield and creating opportunities that saw Valencia firing in a powerful shot just over the bar, Hassan getting in on the keeper but unfortunately being off-side and Stafrace being set clear in the box but unable to latch onto the through ball.

So, despite a promising first half, the wheels sort of came off and the result was a disappointing 6-1 loss.

MMM Memorable Moment – Ray Scafrace’s attempt to claim Oscar glory
MMM Muppet Moment –  Ray Scafrace’s attempt to claim Oscar glory
BMW BoP  – A difficult call this one and split between Gideon Rathner who ran tirelessly at the back (plugging many defensive holes) and Ricky Valencia who did the same up front (making many unrewarded runs where his colleagues chose to attempt more ambitious passes)

Some of the match highlights can be seen via clicking on the word “VIDEO” here.