Old Tiffs started their campaign with a nervy away win at Old Pauline IIs to surge up the South 2 table; a result made all the more impressive by the fact that they were only able to field 10 men.
Despite an organisational abortion causing Goodings and Scott to dash to Fortress Grist’s in search of an OTFC 3s sub to make up the numbers, the T’s began the season as they hoped to continue… With not enough players but plenty of grit. After enjoying the better of the opening sparring the ball broke to Sniffer in an unfamiliar spot on the edge of the OPs D… He skipped round his marker with the grace of a Degas dancer before unleashing a pitiable dribbler towards the bottom corner; to everybody’s shock the ball scuttled through the Pauline ‘keeper, and found its way over the line via a post. Tiffs settled well in a position they have not enjoyed for many months and saw out a largely placid opening 45 with the only event of note a nasty blow to the noggin of the Pauline keeper – who was consigned to the blood bin.
Having absorbed and invited pressure in the second half a moment of controversy offered OPs a lifeline. The ineffective number 16 darted into the box and was nudged by a backtracking Youlie. After a spectacular dive and a pregnant pause the tubby man in black saw fit to award a penalty, which was neatly dispatched. Tiffs regrouped quickly, galvanised by a shared sense of injustice, and were ahead again moments later when Sniffer nodded a Matthews corner towards goal, where a poaching Tom Scott gobbled up the chance at the second time of asking.
With the clock winding down the away side secured victory with a goal straight from the training ground. Huge goal kick by Rose, Nutty flick, neat finish from Garcia. What it lacked in beauty it made up for in significance as the goal proved the difference between the sides after ‘lettuce-hands’ Rose let a weak free-kick into his onion bag. That proved to be the final kick of a game that would not have thrilled the neutral – but represented a return to winning ways for a team whose feast had ended a 9 month winless famine.
Garcia was rightly awarded the man of the match award for his tireless contribution to the attacking cause which only bore fruit in the dying embers of the game.
A huge 3 points for a phoenix Old Tiffinians eleven, rising from the grubby ashes of a miserable double relegation.
Result: Old Paulines IIs 2-3 Old Tiffinians Is
Goals: Smith, Scott & Garcia