Old Tiffs 3 Temple Bar 2

Scorers: Rawlinson 2, Seabrook 1

Keri Ryan,  Trevor Huggins,  Steve Moodley, Pete Markham, Carl Naylor, Simon Baile, Craig Walker, Ali Rawlinson, Oscar Omo, Matt Seabrook, Rob Lee, Dave Gardner, Warren Arlow

The vets didn’t go to the Temple – the Temple came to us, and we plundered a victory, although it was a close run thing.

Old Tiffs went into this fixture not having won a match since the heady days of September, when we topped the league. Part of the reason for our decline was absence of key players and the fact we missed keeper Dave Smith told a little about why this game was as tight as it was.

We started in fine fettle, buoyed by the fact the opposition only had ten men, and even more encouraged that their striker was one Warren Arlow. As you might expect, they posed few problems going forward, and we kept possession very competently for the first fifteen minutes.

The good start was rewarded with a goal, when Ali Rawlinson nabbed one inside the penalty box, a fine finish from the goblin-sized but gobby midfielder. Rawlinson’s day had started badly when he’d tried to coin a nickname for long-serving and immensely loyal centre back Markham. But he made up for it with this smart finish.

The opposition’s cavalry eventually arrived on the touchline and Arlow was quickly subbed by Temple, who began to cause a bit of trouble of their own.

Soon after, a throw in arrived in the Tiffs box which the aforementioned Markham, who plays in most away games, rose to head away. The clearance unfortunately reached an opponent, who had to contend with a difficult angle from the edge of the box, but still squeezed it under the body of our usually brilliant stand in goalie.

At this stage Tiffs would have reckoned themselves to be the superior team but it was to be Temple who then went into the lead. A free kick went over the wall and Keri could only palm the ball back to the on-rushing strikers, who made no mistake and guided it into an empty net.

During half time Walker, who’d been in a savage mood since before the game started, gave the lads the hairdryer treatment. Naylor, not usually a wall flower, was so intimidated he opted to take a turn between the sticks. Keri was determined to make the most of his minutes on pitch. Rawlinson and Omo were first back out for the second half. Tiffs meant business.

One step ahead of Antonio Conte, we adopted a 0.5 4.5 4 2 formation, with Carl playing as an auxiliary centre half as well as in goal. Seasoned watchers of Dave Smith may say there’s nothing new about the sweeper keeper but Naylor took it a step further, at one point popping up on the half way line.

The approach was tested to the full when Trevor Huggins placed a teasing header equidistant between Naylor and two strikers, about 40 yards from goal. It was close, but stand in keeper was there first to clear it to safety.

Goalie japes aside, the second half was memorable for two goals, two shocking misses and one ridiculous goal attempt.

First the Tiffs bagged an equaliser when a roving Rawlinson put away a fine finish from the edge of the area. We took the lead when a fine free kick from Keri curled into the danger zone and Matt Seabrook seized on it to poke the ball past the keeper.

In between the Tiffs created a great break along the left hand side, ending in a powerful shot from Dave Gardner which the goalie could only push out to young Arlow. But the callow youth side footed it high over the crossbar. With more experience he’ll know how to take those chances.

Arlow felt better when the 28-year-old Temple striker had an even easier opportunity laid on a plate for him minutes later, in a case which epitomised the old saying ‘it was easier to score’. Thankfully for Tiffs, this one chance granted to the opposition in the second half was spurned.

Oscar Omo – who generally had an excellent game – also posed the puzzle of the match, with an incredible lash at the ball half way into opposition territory. Was he shooting or passing? Either way it was embarrassing, and the big man will be glad very few people read this article.

When all the action was over, the Tiffs DID go to the bar, and toasted a welcome win.