Report by Tony Mastroddi
To paraphrase William Shakespeare,
“And gentlemen in Southgate now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here“
That was the post-match feeling but earlier omens were not good: the nominal squad of 14 had three dropouts beforehand and, on the day, our Captain and Great Leader, Nigel Spencer-Knott, was caught up in extensive traffic problems on his way to the ground at Cheshunt, so we were compelled to start the match on this lovely sunny afternoon with 10 players only.
The opposition, ten points ahead of Tankards in mid-table, were considerably younger and full of running; after a little more than two minutes their forwards pounced on a misdirected pass between our own defenders and two of them were there to put the ball in. 0-1
Five minutes later another Cheshunt attack had broken down and the ball been cleared upfield but was then returned with a long pass back into our D to their right wing who had curiously gone down on his knees after the previous foray and stayed there, seemingly off the pitch injured or doing up his laces or something, but who then magically recovered and sprang into life to latch onto the through pass before it went out, and slipped it centrally to his CF who could not miss from two yards. 0-2
Tankards continued in their endeavours, with Tim Gingell, Martin Cramer and Pom soaking up a lot of pressure, but by 20 minutes in had conceded another, again due to a quick break engineered by Cheshunt’s speedy young right winger. 0-3
Tankards’ midfield possession increased and with five minutes of the half to go, still playing with ten men, they won a first short corner. Tony Mastroddi’s flicked shot came back off the crossbar and the loose ball was available to be slotted in when the umpire unaccountably blew for the ‘lifted’ shot. There was some delay as it was gently explained to him that flicked shots could be lifted and, whilst he eventually came round to our way of thinking and gave us a long corner (?!), the moment and opportunity had gone.
So into the last minute of the first half, and suddenly hope appeared in the form of Nigel S-K hurrying across from the car park to make us up to 11. At this point it became clear that the mere presence of The Guv’nor was having an effect, nobody really relishing the task of explaining to him when he came within earshot that we were 0-3 down. Efforts were redoubled and with the last move of the half we gained another short corner. This was collected by Tim G who pushed it towards the goal. Rob Ray competed for it in the melee and jabbed it back to Fin Sheridan-Licata who calmly placed it past the defenders on the line. 1-3
A stirring halftime talk from Tim, and readjustment of some positions to accommodate Nigel S-K, gave renewed hope for the second half, and after two minutes another short corner was collected by Tony, and slipped to Tim G who scored with a rattling low shot across the keeper. 2-3 (and getting interesting)
Six minutes in, and great pressure from the midfield combo of Kieran Slorach and Rob produced another short corner. The push-out was going astray until picked up by Tim G who, in one movement, collected, sidestepped and cracked the ball in, to the keeper’s left this time. 3-3
A stunned Cheshunt increased the pace but so did Tankards, the combination of Martin, Nigel S-K and Tim making a formidable barrier across the top of the D, and GK Nigel Dixon making several timely blocks as the half wore on. In the midfield Kieran stood out with his work rate, popping up all over the pitch to help out and providing good balls for the ever-available Chris Gerrard and Ian Grammer up front. With two minutes to go a Tankards’ combined attack put four players in the oppo D, and some slick first time passing between Kieran, Rob and Fin gave Ian Grammer a clear sight of goal from 12 yards out and he shot in, low across the keeper. 4-3 and Game Over
An astonishing turnaround, from 0-3 down at halftime with ten players, and a credit to those involved, including Cheshunt who were very sporting throughout.