SOUTHGATE TITANS 4 – SPENCER VINTAGE 2
Titans turned out a vintage performance, prevailing in an important six-pointer to snuff out Spencer’s hopes of leapfrogging us in the tightly contested Premier Division.
Baby-faced Eddie Howe might have thrown in the towel weeks ago, but the long festive break presented a perfect opportunity for much needed R&R for the injury-laden Titans. Yet somehow, through the sipping of medicinal sherries and mincing of nutritional pies, any marginal gains were squandered as we returned to the second half of the season with just as many players unavailable – injured knees, calves, hips, backs, and places in the body you’d need a medical degree to know existed.
So, we stuck to our tried-and-tested tactic of ambling through warm-up whilst the opposition worked their drills hard. This yielded immediate dividends. The dreaded “ooh, I warmed up a bit too much and now I’m a bit out of puff” affliction lay over the Vintage squad, and incisive Titanic attacks produced two short corners and two goals in 10 minutes. Hold on there – a 100% strike rate on short corners? So, you regular short corner squad who were ALL unavailable through injury, take note and fear for your places!
Team TV reveals all. The first PC was struck straight at the keeper who had already taken a small sidestep, reckoning any striker worth their salt surely wouldn’t hit it straight at him. But he’d reckoned without the counter-bluffing skills of our totemic captain Greg, and he just couldn’t readjust in time. The hockey equivalent of a Panenka? OK, maybe not.
Come the second PC, the keeper had Greg sussed. The shot would again come straight at him, but he wasn’t going to be fooled this time. He’d log, make sure the ball hit him square in the chest, centre goal, job done. But he’d played right into Greg’s hands by reckoning without Brian scything in raptor-like from the wings to deftly lift the ball over the prostrate keeper. Bob Peck would have been proud!
But whilst the Vintage keeper dwelt on being one-upped – twice – by Greg, the rest of their squad arose from their anaesthesia, and a lively game then ensued. It was cut-and-thrust, attack-and-defence, Laurel-and-Hardy (that’s our centre-back pairing, to the uninitiated). 14 D entries apiece by half-time, with two of theirs leading to open play goals and a share of the half-time spoils.
Our esteemed Director of Hockey would stress to us all how important is game management on the pitch. Well my young Padawans, learn from the Masters, who do their game management off the pitch, at half-time. Notwithstanding that we must have talked for 5 minutes about something relevant and helpful, with the opposition and umpires completely set for the restart, only then did Titans start the chat about how we were going to setup for the second half. This masterstroke of leaving Vintage hanging in the wind obviously led to widespread discombobulation, and their hopes of a win were gone in 60 seconds as Biff cleverly (stet) released Malcolm, who put his full range of silky skills on display as he beat 1, 2, 3 Vintage defenders down the right, cut in along the bye-line, and, surrounded by the enemy, arrowed the ball across the stranded keeper to poacher Brian, who couldn’t miss from all of 6 inches (Team TV’s fish eye perspective doesn’t quite do justice to just how little effort Brian had to put in to scoring this one!).
Vintage huffed-and-puffed but couldn’t blow the Titans’ house down. And in a rare second half break away, Titans put the game beyond reach. Malcolm was again at the heart of it, collecting in our half, beating two midfielders and then with the vision we rarely witness with our squad-wide presbyopia, played Forward, First, Fast (Google it), releasing the ball directly to the top of the D. Randall had sprinted in from the left and was under pressure as he collected, but with the cool cack-handedness that only an ex-ice hockey player can muster, he left the attendant defender confused and confounded in his wake, then sent the keeper the wrong way. Yes keeper, one-upped again.
The immovable object of our defence (aka, Biff) continued to hold out against the somewhat resistible force of their attack, and Titans emerged with the 4-2 victory.
Being the modern, forward-thinking squad that we are, we hold little truck for anachronistic baubles like honours, or MOTM awards – actually, we like to avoid the embarrassment of having to hand them back once the scandal breaks.
Truth be, it’s often hard for our ageing brains to remember through the fog if anyone managed to do two good things in one match. But this match is the exception to prove the rule. Scoring two goals from a grand total of twelve inches is a special achievement, clearly indicating how Brian runs that much further up the pitch than others can be bothered to. Bamboozling the keeper twice with surprisingly easy-to-stop PC strikes puts Greg in contention. However, if we must anoint a MOTM, Malcolm goes on the top step for the skills and then vision for two amazing assists.
Benjamin Turner (Vice-Captain)