With no trains from Waterloo and many of the IIs squad investigating new ways to get injured on adventure sports holidays, there was no a better time to play an unbeaten, top of the league, London Welsh side.
The last time the two sides clashed, Tiffs put on a defensive masterclass to draw 5-5, powered by pre-match Jagermeister and by borrowing Joe Matthews, who netted four goals. Hoping to repeat history, Bostelmann chose to put his faith not in pre-game booze, but instead put loan signings Andy, Dan, Ed and Stu into the starting line-up.
The squad may have changed, but some IIs traditions stayed the same. A slow start meant that London Welsh were 2-0 up within 10 minutes. The first, an excellent free kick cross from the London Welsh right, nodded home from close range. The second, an excellent free kick cross from the left, nodded home from closer range. Tiffin soon learned from those mistakes and the third free header from a cross was cleared off the line.
Charlie claimed that he mistakenly got the kick off time wrong, but he timed his arrival perfectly to see Old Tiffs rally. A low free kick forward from the half-way line led to Benedikt turning the lumbering London Welsh centre back to win a slow-motion, but clear, penalty. James Kimber slotted the spot kick all too confidently into the centre of the goal for 2-1.
After some wonderful interchanges between Ed, Tom and Joe and dribbles by Colin threatened to open up the London Welsh backline, it was a cracking route one ball by Dan Hogg that led to the equaliser. Stu challenged the centre back, the London Welsh keeper kicked thin air and Tom slotted home into the empty net for a deserved second. It could have been more as the London Welsh right back turned a low cross against his own post and Stu was denied by a sprawling diving save after a one-on-one.
London Welsh were a win away from promotion and they pressed for the winner early in the second half, but the first chance fell to Joe Sammarco who closed down the London Welsh keeper and was then grappled to the floor before he could force the ball home. The Ref turned away the calls for a penalty, claiming that the thick smoke from an impromptu pitch-side bonfire had obscured his vision.
Ben had a fizzing half volley from the edge of the area saved by the London Welsh keeper, but it was London Welsh who stole the lead midway through the half. A run down the left fed the speedy London Welsh winger, who had been a thorn in Tiffs side all game. He got to the byeline before hammering a low cross across the face of goal which was eventually bundled into the back of the net at the far post. Tiffin carved out one great chance to avoid a heart-wrenching defeat, but Charlie Mortimer’s outside of the foot strike from the edge of the area curled agonisingly wide.
As the final whistle sounded, Tiffin looked back on a good performance against a well organised and pacey side. Particular credit goes to the performance of the players who stepped in from the IIIs, including Ed, who was awarded the Man of the Match for an excellent stint at right back.