Following a re-invigorating Saturday off from football due to rain, where vice-captain Kimber was sent to non-league Dulwich Hamlet to add to his new book, the Tim Sherwood Tactical Pamphlet, the rest of the squad ensured they were well-hydrated for the week ahead.
The freshly-stashed (aren’t those drill tops lovely?) men in Purple descended on the hilly marshes of Surrey, for their clash with top-of-the-league Reigate.
Preparations were perfect. With Skipper Forsyth instructing team members to get a train that meant half of the squad arrived in the changing rooms 30 minutes before kick-off, and an awestruck-looking Kimber forgetting the fines book (“has anyone got any paper for the team sheet?”), the brave boys in Purple took to the pitch barely stretched out and without having yet kicked a ball.
And boy did it show.
For the opening quarter of the game each of the ‘keeper and back four took it in turns to roll some kind passes straight to the opposition, with ‘Tiffs needing the kelp of Seb, the woodwork and some lacklustre finishing to keep the scores at 0-0.
While basic ball control and short-range passing took time to get into rhythm (with Keiran’s first half performance described as a “car crash”), one thing that was firing on all cylinders was the mental warfare within the game.
With Kimber as usual flirting with the opposition at every set piece, Birse, and to more of an extent Colin, made very close acquaintances with their opposite numbers throughout the first half. Birse had to take time off the pitch with a busted lip (bleeding on the lovely new kit), and the fire in Colin’s loins burned so bright that he had to be peeled away from a 15 minute running argument following a late challenge.
Once the in-game warm up had got the Purps into their rhythm, the passing became snappier and possession held onto for longer. One such instance was a Tom Bradley sumptuous left-footed-40-yard-through-ball hit first time on the turn, splitting the centre half and fullback to release Joe Jordan.
With Colin screaming for a pull-back, the ever-threatening JJ9 went for the more sensible option of trickling the ball into the side netting out for a goal kick.
From another of JJ9’s forays in behind, the won a free kick on the left side of the box. Tom Bradley whipped the ball into a corridor of such uncertainty, that the ball evaded the ‘keeper and nestled in the far post -1-0 to the Brave Boys in Purple.
Tom showed his set piece prowess later on in the game, with a second-half effort whistling a couple of yards wide of the corner flag.
Following much talk of not conceding immediately after scoring, the Purps decided to wait 10 minutes rather than 2 to concede, with scores level heading into the break.
Much of the half-time talk centred around us being the better footballing team, and that keeping the ball and tiring out an increasingly fatigued and aggressive opposition would lead to either a goal, an oppo red card, or hopefully… Both.
The second half started much like the first, a scrappy affair with Tiffs looking a real threat on the break, with Tom Flynn’s workrate being a constant nuisance.
Some highlights included a silky Forsyth turn which took three midfielders out the game, before his notorious “big throughie” missed its target… but the chances were coming.
Earlier first half Joe shot into the side netting with Colin screaming for a pull-back. However if there’s one thing that can be said for JJ9, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice – his clever cut-back after beating his full-back for the 478th time rolling into the path of the onrushing Colin, who stroked home for Tiffs to regain their lead.
Recent Old Tiffinian history has shown a team
absolutely incapable that struggles to hold onto any form of lead, but there’s something different about this crop.
Superb game management, with clock-running down techniques varying from the creative to the ridiculous, with Keiran exclaiming to Reigate’s lumbering number 10 to “not touch my neck like that”, leading to bemused teammates wondering to how he would like his neck to be touched?
Despite an unfortunate edge of the box hand-ball leading to a routine save for Seb.
After Joe Jordan was hacked down for the umpteenth time during a promising counter-attack, the referee decided to end things there before any further injuries were caused [editor’s note – news from Birse and Kimber is that their lip and ankle are both bruised, but they’ve both been given a glass of milk and are very brave boys].
The full-time whistle led to roars of delight from the ‘Purps, who if successful with their two games in hand, will top the table.
They couldn’t… Could they?
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