Old Tiffinians 3s made the long trip to Reigate for the second time this season, a month after our initial fixture was postponed whilst the squad was en route. In arguably the most important match of the 3s’ season so far, disappointingly, only 10 3s players were available. The 2s kindly agreed to support us whilst they had a week off, so Dicky Bostelmann and Tom Nichols stepped in to the starting XI.
Upon arrival in Reigate, and after a series of difficulties faced with parking cars and bikes, the 3s assembled, training tops on, and excited to play on what really was a beautiful spring day.
After an exceptionally long walk to get to the pitch, Tiffs were relieved to not be playing on one of Reigate’s infamous vertically sloped pitches. We in fact were assigned a pitch that was wet, sticky, bumpy and horizontally sloped. Not ideal.
The Tiffs started the game well, as we often do. Matt Power particularly picking out clever passes across the width of the pitch and making himself available from central midfield for most of the 3s’ set pieces. However, our good start came with no rewards. A long Reigate ball through the centre of the Tiffin defence led to the striker being one on one with Andy Johnston. Johnston got finger tips to the low strike, but the shot was too powerful to keep out. During the attempted save, Johnston landed badly on his shoulder, leaving him in a crumpled heap on the sticky pitch. A substitute was required. Fortunately enough for skipper Dan Hogg, Tom Nichols stepped up to the role knowing that he would almost certainly complete the game between the sticks.
Scrappy play ensued, neither team could string together periods of passes nor possession. A speculative cross to the edge of the Tiffin box hit a bobble and bounced up awkwardly in front of left back Ben Lewis only to strike him on the arm. Despite Lewis’ protests, the ref had no choice. The penalty was converted, which resulted in the 3s being 2-0 down at the break.
Back out for the second half in the hot sun, the Tiffin youngsters were causing problems up top for Reigate. Dom Lundie using his height and high kicking abilities to good use, and Max Ruane nipping between defenders and getting shots away.
Finally a breakthrough came courtesy of the youngsters. Ruane rode a couple of Reigate challenges and fed the ball to Lundie who, with a “Bergkamp-esque” turn (Lundie’s description), stroked the ball in to the far corner for a fine Tiffin goal.
However, Tiffin legs were getting tired and starting to feel heavy playing on such a difficult pitch. Challenges started flying in from both sides leading to a series of hand bags and a booking for the Reigate left-back.
Sadly, the Tiffs were unable to find the net again in the second half despite countless set piece opportunities and near misses in the Reigate box.
We go again against Old Paulines.
Congratulations to Max Ruane for winning a well deserved man of the match, and big thanks to Dicky and Tom for supporting us for such a crucial fixture.