Despite having taken a hour to get there from New Malden, Grists was looking magnificent in the Indian Summer sun. If only the groundsman had not used crayons to mark out the vets pitch. This meant the long schlep out to the allotment pitch, which for some was the sum total of their pre-season training. Knackered.

The boys cracked the code on the goals padlock and we were in business. Perfunctory warm up complete and we were ready to mix it up. Sadly still only a handful of the Oppo. Keen to get started and being the jolly nice chaps we Old Tiffs are, we loaned them two of our subs. What a tactical blunder. Turns out it was the best 30 mins I’ve seen Bruce and Jon Kent play! Starting 11 for Tiffs saw a bunch of debuts: Graham, Pat and Scottie at the back, and Dave Bailey up top.

The first half was good. Very good. There was belief, there was energy, there was even some passing. Yaz dropped back into midfield and having three in the middle of the park worked a treat. Josh’s industry (outdone only by his chat), Yaz’s deft touches. Tactical genius. If only I’d have thought of that. But Carshalton were no mugs and they could play, knocking it about at times. It was a good contest. Tackles were going in. We seemed to come out with the ball. It popped up to Dave upfront, on the turn, Bosch. ‘Ave some of that.

Soon afterwards I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we found ourselves 2-0. Don’t they say 2-0 is the most dangerous score line in football? And so it proved.

Half time came.  Though Sadly the oranges never quite made off my kitchen worktop. Didn’t bode well.

If the first half was good, the second half was bad. We seemed to run out of legs and ideas, and if I dare to say it, belief drained away. Carshalton grew stronger, dominated the play and stuck away 5 (May have been 6 but who’s counting anyway). But the half wasn’t without its highlights. Bruce rolled back the years playing on the right (now  back for Tiffs), stood up the left back, dropped his shoulder, sent the left back to the pizza shop, and crossed in a peach of a cross.
Then Pat had a strong, dogged run down the left, done his player, was going through towards goal and just chopped down. Ref penalty. No play on. What?Jules. What game are you watching mate. Shocker. And lastly I won’t mention the ball that came drifting across the penalty area from the left, drive it low Diz, don’t whack it Diz, just pick you spot. Oh crumbs.

Full time whistle finally went. You could say we got done in the second half.

But it was a good run out. My thanks to all. Especially the new boys who all acquitted themselves very well. And shout out to Clinton in goal. Well played indeed sir.

Course this was all just an elaborate dress rehearsal for the real start of the season: next week. First league game. Against West Kensington Kings (who won their first league game today 10-2 – no pressure lads). Let’s’ave it.


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