OTFC IV 1 – 2 Whitgift II
There was some apprehension before the game, as the IVs took on league leaders Whitgift, who had apparently won all their games and were averaging 5+ goals a game. There was even more apprehension when the referee arrived. Straight from the kick off the OTs were on top, with a number of very good chances just not quite finding the back of the net. The OTs were dominating possession, but just couldn’t quite get that all important first goal. Mou Alhashem, Bilal Morad and Bernard Knuchel-Takano were causing havoc upfront and Andre Knuchel-Takano was bossing midfield. All Whitgift could muster was some heckling and some ‘gamesmanship’. Against the run of play however Whitgift broke and a long range first time effort by one of their midfielders hit the inside of the post and went in.
The OTs continued to dominate the match, creating a number of chances, with Haitham Khorma charging forward from left back, Andre Knuchel-Takano continuing to torment the Whitgift midfield, and Mark Lomas easily dealing with the Whitgift long balls. A goal was coming and it came, albeit in unlikely fashion. Alhashem was poleaxed in the area and the referee blew his whistle. He had to. No one was expecting the indirect free kick that was awarded 10 yards out, but everyone likes a surprise. Luckily our work from the training ground paid off and Lomas slammed the ball into the roof of the net with a great finish. 1-1.
The second half continued in the same vein, with skipper Charlie Hughes coming on to lend some finesse to the defence and Amr Kadi making a number of crucial tackles and interventions. Lomas went close with a header and there were a number of chances that the OTs couldn’t quite convert. Bernard Knuchel-Takano was fouled in the area, but the Whitgiftians had correctly realised that they were on relatively safe ground. Gamesmanship indeed. From a rare break Whitgift converted a corner with a good header from their winger, and somehow managed to hold onto their lead.
Despite the referee being unable to award penalties, he was very eager to pick on that poor relation of the set piece family, the much maligned throw in. It was indeed a very sad day for throws in, with the vast majority being penalised in a game where the referee could certainly not be considered whistle happy. Definitely one for us to look at in our next set piece training session, as the Whitgiftians frequently noted. Banter, or gamesmanship?
It was a frustrating day for the OTs as we probably should have got a point from the game (at the very least), but we were playing top of the league which bodes well for the rest of the season.
MOTM was awarded to Charlie Mortimer.