Matchday 21 of TNF and this week saw a few absentees. Coach Edwardski, who is shortly claiming asylum in Greece, was missing some big names from which to pick from, with Dazza away building sandcastles and Granite in Salcombe working on his cholesterol levels. Dark Arts Dan and Steve ‘The Sloth’ Godfrey were question marks but both managed to reach the ground on time, to varying degrees of success.
Both sides lined up strongly. The bibs had John Harris, Matthew Cox and The Dong providing the steel in front of Safe Legs Ads, Liamardo and Joel the artistry (and that was just his boots), with Dave and Steve the cutting edge. The non-bibs had Beckanbauer Bazza in goal, with the legs of Seppy and strength of Dark Arts at the back. A strong midfield had Jon ‘Romford Pele’ Carter, Christian and a rare start for Ethan Edwards, with leading scorer The Hammer up front and Tom in his customary floating role.
Kick off and the game started and quickly settled into a pattern, with the bibs applying lots of early pressure. Pressure didn’t equate to goals though. A combination of majestic goalkeeping, disciplined defending and poor finishing kept the scores at 0-0, with Edwardski and The Sloth especially wasteful in front of goal. The pressure continued to build with Liamardo and Coxy both joining the attack and with John Harris making marauding runs forward, it was all hands to the pump for the non-bibs defence. This left The Dong and Safe Legs exposed somewhat at the back but the non-bibs were unable to capitalise, with The Hammer, Romford, Ethan and Christian all failing to find the target when the non-bibs managed to counterattack. Christian especially had a golden chance to score. Normally so adept at playing in the hole, he picked the ball up on the edge of the area after some good build up play but couldn’t sort his feet out and could only manage a tame effort at goal. Meat and drink for Safe Legs.
The bibs continued to press and eventually the dam burst. Bazza, almost playing as a sweeper, was unable to head the ball clear and it was met by Coxy, surging forward, who headed a looping ball over the despairing Bazza and underneath the bar. 1-0 and this was the least the bibs deserved for their early pressure. They were unable to build on this though, with Edwardski hitting the post with Bazza beaten and numerous other chances going begging. At times the bibs were taking it in turns to shoot and there was some exquisite build up play on show, with Harris and Coxy forcing the tempo and Liamardo and Joel’s rapier like movement adding to the onslaught. However, the non-bibs defence sat deep, kept their shape and with the bibs pushed up, space was at a premium and finding a killer ball was proving to be beyond them.
How many times have we seen a team in the ascendancy get punished for failing to convert their chances? This is what happened here, although it took a controversial penalty decision for the game to turn. A cross field ball was directed towards Ethan, although it is doubtful whether he could’ve controlled it. However, as he went toward the ball, the non-bibs screamed as one for a penalty, claiming a push in the back from Juan Mata lookalike, Joel. Ethan didn’t claim himself but the decision stood, although the replay was inconclusive. After being a spectator for much of the game, Safe Legs was now being called in to action. After some conjecture as to where the penalty spot was, The Hammer lined up to take it. He hit it right footed with all his trademark venom but a breath-taking save from Safe Legs pushed the ball away. Chance gone but the non-bibs now had their tails up and began to press and as happens so often, they punished the bibs for their early profligacy. Tom, quiet up to now and on the periphery of the action, received the ball wide on the right and after battling through a challenge hit a fizzing effort that was too hot for Safe Legs to handle. The ball hit the far upright but the power of the shot saw it rebound onto the other, hit Ads’ arse and then hit the back of the net. 1-1 and all to play for still but the momentum had swung. A loose ball from the bibs through midfield was gobbled up, the ball played forward and The Hammer atoned for his earlier mistake. From being 1-0 down and under the cosh, it was now 2-1 to the non-bibs and the game had been turned on its head.
This woke the bibs up and they pushed up in search of an equaliser, which, on the balance of play, would’ve been deserved. Once again though, the non-bibs sat deep and soaked up the pressure with the midfield trinity of Romford, Ethan and Christian working very hard to screen the back two of Dark Arts and Seppy. However, John Harris was very unlucky to see a goal disallowed for being inside the area after a great run down the inside left channel, slightly overrunning the ball but the replay clearly showed the ball was inside. More pressing followed but the bibs were tiring and now the non-bibs applied the coup de grâce, with Ethan scoring from the left after another good breakaway. 3-1 to the non-bibs and that was how it finished, with Seppy blowing the final whistle with the ball still nestling in the back of the net. Handshakes all round and a strong feeling of ‘what might have been’ for the bibs. For Bazza, Seppy and the rest of the non-bibs though it was a job well done and a classic example of counter-attacking football. The arguments are still raging on who the MOTM should be but the consensus appears to be that the two goalkeepers may have to share.
After the match, Phil Lynott’s twin brother advised that there had been a complaint about some of the language used during the match and asked us to tone it down. Given the quality of the bibs’ finishing it was no wonder some industrial language was on show. Hopefully there will be no need for such language next time.
The talk moved on to potential piss up venues for the England v Wales game in the Euros but it still isn’t 100% decided. Judging by their performance last night, Roy would do well to visit TNF, some of the boys here could do a job.
In the league, Bazza is sneaking under the radar with 5 wins on the trot, in search of a new win streak record. The Hammer stretches his lead at the top of the goal scoring charts with 32 goals and Steve just needs to sleep! We haven’t seen the best of him since fatherhood and we’ve yet to see a ‘Romario’ celebration. Beetroot juice might be in order!
As ever though, Football was the winner, and we’ll do it all again next week.
Have a great weekend lads!