In the middle of May on a Tuesday night the Whites E’s got their season under way, 5 weeks after the rest of the division. A strange time to begin a campaign, in what was overall a very strange night. With showers before the game, a stiff breeze and lightning off in the distance, and our lights being ‘ok’ at best, conditions were tricky.
With the D’s regularly having 30 blokes to choose from this year, the whites committee took the bold decision to see if we could add a 5th team to the club in the collegiate league.
The boys will catch up on all their missed games & many of these will end up being mid-week night games.
An early highlight from the game was the 20 odd players who hung around after training to cheer the guys on… Whilst I’m not entirely sure all the banter was constructive, it did add a festive atmosphere to the night.
The first ever 5th team was a mix of players from the C’s and D’s squad, a couple of blokes making their Uni-whites debut and one lost looking A’s player to add some spice. With a dearth of defenders, but a plethora of midfielders and strikers we opted for a back 3, and an extra man in the midfield – in a bid to play to our strengths.
The Whites opened brightly, with some crisp 1 and 2 touch passing & the boys showing a good turn of speed. We controlled the tempo of the game & for the first 20 minutes or so we were decidedly the better team. We got behind the Pembroke defence a couple of times & Both Julian and Isaac (I think) managed to get shots away, but no goals were to come.
With rolling subs there’s always a chance that stability can be damaged. And it seemded as though that happened to the Whites. Our first couple of substitutions coincided with 10 minutes of chaos, as on 3 occasions we got caught trying to pass the ball out of defence and on all 3 occasions the turnover on the edge of the box restulted in a Pembroke goal. Whilst we also made a couple of chances of our own (Ryan hit the crossbar from about 20 yards) That chaotic period, backed up by a penalty meant a shell-shocked E team were 4 goals down at the half.
A possible highlight of the half came in the midsts of our melt-down when Wez wandered over to the bench and gathered spectators and asked ‘Who’s this Greek bloke out here? Why would he do that? We’re nice people!’ (after Alex’s first couple of touches had resulted in turnovers).
Ryan and Kirsten stepped up at the break with a few choice words – basically asking the boys to clear it wide in need, asking the wingers to play a little deeper and asking the midfield to be more compact.
The second half began a lot like the first, with the Whites again looking very good, passing well & generally controlling the tempo. George and Harry were solid in the midfield & Umar and John George looked like they were finially gaining an understaning of each others game. The fight-back began a little fortuitously though, as Telmoo and a Pembroke defender clashed in the box – both went down and a penalty was awarded… (we’re still not quite sure what for)… No one put their hand up to take it, but in the end George stepped up & slotted it home with aplomb. Marking his first ever Uni Whites goal, and of course the first ever goal for the White’s E’s.
From that point on, we completely dominated the game. Jules had obviously decided the game was his to win, as a barnstorming run took him to just inside the 18 yard box on the right hand side where he hit a tracer bullet shot to score at the far post. Not 5 minutes later and he’s repeated the dose with another powerful bomb from an even tougher angle.
The whites were sniffing blood now, and Alex and Ryan teamed up for a lovely piece of play, but Ryan’s shot skewed just wide from a tight angle. Then Jules decided to try his luck with the left boot, his first shot went just wide but his second from 20 yards was just saved by the Pembroke keeper.
The final whistle blew & we’d lost 4-3… A couple of silly mistakes in the first half cost us the result. But again I’m writing about the positives that are coming from the squad. What I’m really enjoying week after week is a never-say-die attitude to the game. Scores are irrelevant, effort is constant. Glamour is lurking.