I’m not going to lie lads, in a week in which we’ve had more cry offs than an indifferent Tory party (bit of politics just for you Kinchin), your otherwise glass-half-full skipper was feeling decidedly glass-almost-entirely-empty. But by the end of 90 minutes, said glass was positively overflowing!

Fortunate to pick up 3 strong lads last minute from our 4s (all legit Vets), together with a Pete Stephens last second call up (nice one Pete), the team vibe had renewed spirit, and the prematch talk was about belief, belief, belief (as well as, play it simple, the way your facing, play for each other and above all, enjoy yourselves). And by Jove, someone must have been listening, in fact everyone must have been listening. Tiffs were quality, all over park.

First half was by far the best 45 minutes I’ve played in all season (notwithstanding I lasted only the first 30!). Upfront Del and Pepper were a handful, strong and full of running, and good on the ball. Tiffs midfield dominated, finding space, turning and laying the simple balls out wide. On the right, Banoub was on fire, twisting inside and outside, reminiscent of Keith Gillespie before the booze and bookies, he sent their poor left back to the shops, smoked a cigar and smashed in a goal from the tightest of angles. Pick that one out the net. Shortly afterwards (or possibly before, memory is overstated these days) Pepper muscles his way through and banged in our second. Tiffs were firmly in control and on the ascendency. By now, Jon Kent was on for the injury prone skipper and with great positional sense was a formidable wall at left back.

New boy Nick was a revelation on the left. Mike slotted neatly into centre midfield alongside Mark O. Both put themselves about, won the ball, got their heads up and played in our forwards. The pressure on Claygate soon told, giving away a stonewall penalty (someone please postscript in what for). Up stepped the man on fire, Banuob, body language making it palpably clear no one else was having it. With a short, efficient run up the B stroked the ball to the keepers left and into the net. Nonchalant.

Half time came and we were in the unusual position of finding ourselves 3-0 up. We talked about belief, we talked about desire, we talked about not f****ng it up. We talked about the 3 goal lead we’d let slip 2 weeks ago on the same pitch. Calm heads was what was needed.

If the first half was all about our forward play, the second half was all about our defending. And we defended brilliantly. The two Pete’s kept a watchful eye on their nippy centre forward and didn’t put a foot wrong. JB (who I had had to assure in the week would only play 45 min max – thank you JB for the 90) had a tricky left winger to handle but did it beautifully, often coming away with the ball, and starting off promising attacks. JK had one of the moments of the match: their centre forward decided Pete S had fouled him at the half way line, as Pete S ran back towards our goal to thwart their attack, said centre forward tried seeking his own form of retribution by trying to clatter Pete. Incensed, JK goes steaming into said centre forward, meanwhile their other striker then only goes and scores. Ref blows up. What is it ref? Free kick to Tiffs!

Followed by a mild telling off for all misdemeanours. It was a let off at a critical juncture. Now I’ll fast forward through the rest of the game.

Claygate awarded a weak penalty for a non-handball in the box – the ball was smacked straight at Markhams arm from all of 2 yards. But the gods were with us, otherwise know as Clinton. Anticipating the right way, Cool Clint dives to his right and saves the penalty. Get in!

Then Claygate do score, details of which are blur and thus will be glossed over.
Then we have quite a few chances in open play, and new boy Nick is properly hacked down in the box. Stonewall. Up steps you know who, preening like a peacock, takes the ball. Steps up, gives the keeper the eyes, and slots it in, this time to the keepers right. Cheeky. Hat-trick.

Game, set and match.

Great performance lads. Deserved win. Full of positivity, energy and belief, and never in doubt from the first whistle. Beers and smiles afterwards. Let’s keep it like that boys, win, lose or draw.

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