Maori 2 Old Tiffs 2
Dave Smith, Jon Kent, Steve Moodley, Carl Naylor, Pete Markham, Craig Walker, Matt Seabrook, Keri Ryan, Alan Coe, Warren Arlow, Ricky Evelyn, Dave Gardiner
Tiffs arrived with their smallest squad of the season – in terms of player numbers anyway – but came away from their annual pre-`christmas trip to Maori with an honourable 2-2 draw.
Rob Lee was forced to withdraw before the game, as rumours abounded he was signing forms to sell a chain of hotels. Footy mad, i suspect he would rather have been on the pitch with us than playing Monopoly, but what can you do?
The game see-sawed. Tiffs started well, dominating possession despite a few notable absences in midfield (including ‘only home games’ Ali), and every player was getting a touch and contributing. It wasn’t long before they converted possession into a goal, and what a goal it was.
With a build-up of pressure around the opposition penalty area, Tiffs gave the ball away, but things unexpectedly worked in their favour. Maori passed it back through their area and it fell at the feet of that master poacher, our skipper Craig Walker.
Not looking surprised – his composure is legendary – Walker gave the keeper the eyes and stroked the ball marvellously past him in the other corner.
If i say this reminded one of Rush, Fowler, Cantona and Bergkamp combined, you’ll get the idea of what a finish it was. If i say that Walker hinted my own place in the team was under threat unless i did justice to the goal in this report, that will also aid your understanding.
Tiffs held the lead for only a few minutes before a mad period in which we suddenly became unable to defend corners. An out swinger came in from the left and from just inside the area, a Maori player did his best to get it back into the mixer. It should have been harmless but the bounce deceived Tiffs and ended up directly in the net.
Moments later matters got worse when a corner from the other side came past the near post at barely head height. It should have been cleared but when it wasn’t, Maori reacted quickest and it was chested in for 2-1.
When the going gets tough, the vets get going and we played our way back into the game, disrupted though we were by various injuries on the way.
Tiffs bossed the second half, which was played almost entirely in Maori territory. Steve Moodley was enjoying himself at left back, piling forward, while Dave Gardiner was also posing problems to the opposition back line, in one of his finest games yet.
So it was nigh on inevitable that we would get a goal at some point. It came in the end from an own goal, though with Ricky chasing and harrying the defender from a deep cross, he may have scored had the Maori man not awarded us an early christmas present.
Comedy moment of the match was our man Wazza, at right back, all 6ft 4 of him competing for a ball dropping vertically with Maori’s tiny Italian playmaker. They both missed the first header entirely, it bounced up again and they both declined to header it on the second occasion too. Once it had dropped to ankle high, old nimble feet (and no, i don’t mean Wazza) ran off with the ball
Anyway, an enjoyable and entertaining game. We hope to see Rob next week if he’s not taken up Cluedo.