Hollands & Blair -v- Sheppey United (SCEFL Prem)
Well this was the game that went through every emotion in 90 minutes, misery, despair, relief, joy then the sheer joy of a hard earned the away win.
The four of us made the trek over to be greeted by big Dave, an exiled Ite who lives a spit away from H & B’s ground. The weather caught a few out the balmy Autumn weather replaced by the barmy winter weather but for once I was adequately attired. My new found religious beliefs have stopped me drinking the Devils brew in the week and as some may be aware our winning streak is entirely down to me partaking John Smiths instead of my usual tipple of ( let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what you order at the bar it always ends up as Carlsberg) lager so I was fearful to say the least.
The only team change being Furious George coming in for Hiccham who I’m told is happy playing once a week. I had been warned by a work colleague that the pitch had quite a bad slope on it but I must admit it suprised me that it was steeper than the prices at the Halfway House, that said he assured me they liked to play football on the ground so it didn’t really suit them.
The game started, I might as well cut and paste this from pretty much every game this half, with Sheppey on the back foot, a very youthful H & B team seemed to run us ragged early on playing down the hill with their big centre forward holding it up well, all the early chances went to the home team with us mustering a solitary shot from Bradshaw which would probably have run out of steam before it hit the net. The hosts then had the best chance, Adam picked up a Brunt back pass, the ref gave an indirect free kick from about the penalty spot, the whole team assembled on the line and somehow charged down the kick, close but no cigar. The assembled wise old owls predicted their goalkeeper would have the game of his life as seems to happen and to be fair to him Forde was Focused when called upon but nobody expected him to influence the game like he did, from the edge of the area, young Forde launched the ball straight past everyone on the field who stared at it open mouthed like when us Islanders see a plane, Adam the keeper came to collect, the ball bounced once, as did Adam and the ball sailed straight over his head into the empty net, their keeper then celebrated wildly leading to a Forde Fiesta at what was no doubt his first goal at this level.
No problem the assembled Ites thought, this would wake us up, it always does except this time it didn’t, the Hosts created more chances and started to pepper the goal from long range, then came our slice of luck, their striker got free of our defence, Adam came out to meet him, the forward went round Adam who promptly took him out quicker than an Alabahma policeman at a civil rights meeting, Penalty, but luckily opinion was divided, the whole ground thought it was a penalty, the ref didn’t. Surely this lucky break would spur the Ites on, nope, still the hosts pushed us back creating chances, Furious George lost the ball in the midfield then took one for the team by pulling his opponent back for his customary yellow card then out of the blue Jack Mahoney smacked one from 30 yards, Forde leapt like the proverbial salmon saving superbly. Just time for the hosts to hit the post from a header before half time, surely this was the worst 45 minutes of the season, they were so bullied out of it I expected the Sheppey team to hand over their collective dinner money, what could and should have been 4-0 to H & B was luckily only 1-0.
Second half, kicking down the slope and with the wind up buoyed by the fact we couldn’t get any worse, out the boys came and promptly took the game to the hosts, Luke Harvey Oswald who up to now had seen less ball than a blind lesbian began to get involved, Trey, our best player ( assuming there was one) in the first half was starting to light up the game with more little dribbles than my dad without his teeth in, the Shrewsbury shifter who had been more of a bit part actor than the dog in Eastenders now looked like he had a new ” leash” of life, scampering, harrying the before untroubled defence, Oswald had the first chance, pushing his way through the defence like a fat kid at a chip shop, scuffing his shot, then minutes later a better effort that Forde parried into the path of Bradshaw but somehow he grabbed it off Dans foot. The hosts were still playing the ball round well but it was now like the Indians circling the wagon train and they couldn’t get up the hill, Timmy had a shot that went just over with the keeper for once beat, Harvey Oswald adopted a shoot on sight policy the same as his namesake, this was so much better but equally frustrating, the curse of the John Smiths was coming true, then came the big chance, old dependable Bradshaw beats two and gets in the box with only the keeper to beat, that’s it, he never misses, well he did tonight screwing it agonisingly past the post, this was starting to get annoying. Ernie then rolls the dice and replaces one Batten for another and then Golden boy Ralphy for Mahoney with Girty going back to his usual midfield berth, then just as we needed a Hero, up steps Trey, 25 yards out he looked up the keeper was off his line so Trey chipped the ball over the keepers head like a joke at a hairdressers convention, 1-1, deserved on the second half performance surely. In view of H & B’s first half dominance I’d have settled for a draw but they looked out on their feet, their attack breaks down, Harvey breaks clear, Timmy is in more space than an Ibizan clubber, Luke picks him out, Timmy cuts inside onto his left and from the edge of the area hits a super Timmy Mallet past Forde 2-1, cue Timmys somersault celebration, if the hosts hadn’t looked knackered before, they did now. By way of congratulating Timmy Ernie brings him off, a nice gesture but back to the game, on come Hiccham to shore it up, would we rest on our laurels, would we hell, another Harvey shot gets deflected for a corner, young Cooper takes, Trey gets on up like James Brown and powers his header past Forde, 3-1.
The proverbial game of two halves was over, could have been 4-4 but we rode our luck much to the delight of the 60-70 Hobo’s who had made the trip, a standing ovation for both teams, especially Forde who was given an Escort and it was all over.
Not much to say about the first half, Highstead was apparently chucking up all day but given our goalkeeping back up chose to play, a freak goal maybe, he lost his footing but still kept us in it with a great save in the first half. Second half we turned on the bullies and became the aggressors, the slope and wind played a big part but I think the fitness levels shown by the lads was key, no pun intended Ralphy, to our win .For once our prolific front two had a bad day at the office, hopefully in Dans case this wasn’t anything sinister .
MOM Either Trey for his superb double or me for recognising the lack of John Smiths made the brave decision to switch to Bovril which carried us home.