OTFC IV 5 – 1 Reigatians VI
Langford (2)
The IVs prepare for the Christmas Social in fine style with a well-deserved 5-1 win against Reigatians VIs.

The omens were good before kick-off on this windy December day. OTs welcomed back IVs perenially absent vice-captain Thishi Surendranathan, while a rest week for the IIIs meant we were able to field a full complement of substitutes for the first time in weeks.

Old Tiffs were tentative in the first 10 minutes, conceding possession to opposition frequently in midfield and conceding a couple of early corners. However, we soon discovered the benefit of using a strong tailwind to our advantage, launching some speculative balls from defence and midfield behind the Reigatians defence for pacy strikers Lomas and Langford to run on to.

Sure enough after stringing together a couple of good moves, Kugathas curled a dangerous ball from the right into the box. Whitehouse threatened to stab the ball home but did not take a touch and the ball bounced in just inside the post. 1-0 Tiffs.

The goal seemed to settle Tiffs and from here on the first half was mostly one-way traffic. The back four of Newby, Hogg, Jackson and Surendranathan looked assured at the back. However, a rare defensive lapse saw Reigatians’ dangerous playmaker dance with the ball into the six-yard box and almost round the keeper only to be denied by an excellent last-ditch save by Meradji.

Unperturbed, Tiffs continued to pile on the pressure and soon went 2-0 up. Whitehouse delivered a text-book corner to the far post straight on to the head of a grateful Williams to nod home. Soon after, at the breakdown of one corner Santhakumar hit a fine effort from 25 yards that bounced on to the top of the bar.

Reigatians were beginning to look a little demoralised by fighting against the unfavourable conditions, with Williams, Wallis and later Santhakumar taking control of the ball in central midfield. A lightning break from Tiffs saw Kugathas play in Lomas through the inside-right channel for a neat finish. 3-0 Tiffs and there was still time for Langford to have an effort tipped on to the woodwork.

Skipper Hughes congratulated the team on a fine first-half performance but sagely warned that the second half would be much more difficult playing against the wind – and so it proved. Reigatians had much more of the ball from the off and, similarly to Tiffs in the first half, won numerous corners, and duly pulled a goal back mid-way through the second half. To compound matters, Tiffs suffered no less than 3 hamstring-related injuries to upset things somewhat, Sivapuratharasu particularly disappointed having had a promising sub’s appearance.

The ball was mostly in Old Tiffs’ half but Reigatians always looked vulnerable at the back. After around 70 minutes of frustration without a goal, the increasingly isolated Langford decided enough was enough, essentially taking the ball from the half-way line to the edge of the six-yard box past at least 4 of the opposition and via a Suarez-like one-two off defenders’ legs, to place the ball perfectly into the far corner. Soon after Langford added a second, again on the break and from a second Kugathas assist.

The game was killed off and almost got what would have been the icing on the cake of a birthday goal for vice-captain Surendranathan, but unfortunately he could only cushion Kugathas’ pinpoint cross straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.

Overall, an excellent win cementing the IVs position mid-table in AFC Division 9 South in their long-awaited comeback season.

**OTFC IVs wishes Dan Hogg and Austin Arjun Kugathas the best of luck with their transfers abroad!  Thanks for your distinguished service!