Old Tiffs vets 0 Kew Park Rangers vets 1

1. Dave Smith
2. Pete Stephens
3. Simon Baile
4. Carl Naylor
5. Pete Markham
6. Ali Rawlinson
7. Oscar Omo
8. Bruce Houghton
9. Rob Lee
10. Ricky Evelyn
11. Steve Moodley

12. Simon Burton
14. Trevor Huggins

The Tiffs vets played their part in a feisty promotion decider on Saturday – but despite the early season promise, it was the opposition who were gunning for a place in the top two.

Tiffs’ own challenge has suffered from lack of goals, and lack of goal scoring opportunities, and both were again an issue in a tight contest at Grists. For the second week in a row the vets were pipped, this 1-0 against the second placed team following a 2-0 versus the third placed side seven days ago.

This fixture was played in good conditions, rainfall before kick off subsiding at the right moment to give way to a bright afternoon, the pitch hard and quick. Kew had turned up serious, a van load of supporters and a pre-match training routine that looked like something from a higher level of football.

Whether such preparatory work was effective is unclear, because Tiffs spent the minutes before the start lumbering about in the usual fashion, and once the game started, exchanges were relatively even.

Much of the game was played in the central third of the pitch. Kew perhaps looked more dangerous when breaking forward, their pacy front line probing and pressing but without necessarily worrying the Tiffs goal. Then, around the 20 minute mark, disaster struck.

A ball over the top was intercepted by centre back Naylor, who cushioned a header back to the safe hands of Dave Smith in the Tiffs goal. Safe, I say, for 99.9% of the time, but this turned out to be that 0.1%. Smith, one of the team’s best performers this season, inexplicably fumbled the header into the path of the chasing Kew striker, who couldn’t believe his luck. 0-1 to Kew.

Following the goal, Tiffs wobbled a bit, and there were a couple of precarious moments in the box, but they ultimately survived those to see out the half a goal down.

Non playing skipper Craig Walker looked vexed on the touch line. Naylor led the battle cry – let’s be braver, play higher up the pitch, and take the game to the oppo.

To an extent, it worked. By Freeing up the midfielders to occupy space when it made sense to do so, Tiffs gave Kew more to think about, and had a good share of the second half.

A tactical change instigated by Walker -switching Omo to striker in the last ten minutes – nearly turned into a masterstroke. Omo found himself with the ball at his feet in the box, a clear shot on from close to the penalty spot, but as defenders sought to close him down, his powerful drive was too close to the keeper. It was Tiffs best chance.

In the end, it was Kew and their horde of fans who were celebrating at the end, their promotion secured. Tiffs will look to improve in their last two games, to finish a decent season on a high note.