So a tough game against promotion seeking if not league winner contenders Purley 3’s. Conversely we appear firmly pegged at a very respectable mid-tabled 6th position and would take some terrible losses, or an amazing run of good fortune to move either way. But complacency is not in our vocabulary, so we take each week as it comes. Actually Captain Email did come out with the phrase “expansive play” during the pre-match warm-up, but he was referring to the oppo. So with complacency not in our vocabulary but expansive now entering, I looked this up in the dictionary afterwards (OK so I was cool and used google) and Maj was quite right, as it means “taking up or covering a wide area or space, or open and inclusive”.
Heading into the game, and we noticed Purley initially started with 10 men, but soon became 11 and a tough, fast and I guess expansive game was played (hang on – does expansive stretch to also describing Jamie G’s rear, or perhaps even the mud-patch which Tom left on Jack D’s grass the other week…. shall I move on ?), with a good hard battle at every area of the now enlarged field of play. To be fair, not many clear chances created by either side in the first half, but a Purley cross into our D was well deflected by their attacker who slipped the ball past Tucks and we were down 1-0. Tucks was wearing his lucky sparkly green shorts, but they failed to dazzle today, and the shorts were forced to drag Tucks into the back of our goal to retrieve the ball. Lack of chances was not through want of trying or good play by either side, but just a very close game where no one had any real dominance or advantage.
I am not allowed to moan at the umpires in reports, so will refrain from stating that our umpire was very acceptable (thank you Ross) and theirs was less so. Anyway, a few dodgy tackles, feet, and pushes later and we got through the first half with just the one threat of a card as nearly awarded to Andy Adams after their attacker barged into him after the game had stopped. Interestingly no mention of the barge, and this was clearly seen by all on the field apart from the Purley umpire – it seems. Anyway Andy missed getting a card, and believe this was for infringement of rule 17.b which states an Epsom player can get barged or pushed but then must not request some action as a result. So we learn something new each week.
To the second half, and we came out fighting, and took the game to Purley, Suddenly Carlos (aka Yoda, but of a similar 102 years of age) was free and got past their last line of defense, albeit had half the pitch to run down. He called upon his Jedi force and streaked down the pitch towards their D, before being totally flattened by the keeper, the ball spilling out wide to Rob Sydenham who went round one player, before being totally flattened by a really agricultural challenge. Surprisingly we did not get a P-Flick or even short corner for either of these challenges, but which worked in our favour as the ball came out to Jack R, who revered the ball into the goal. I was expecting the decision to now be called back for a short corner, but no the goal was correctly awarded and we were back to 1-1.
Usually we have some comic moments in our otherwise perfect strategy, and whilst a frantic second half followed, there were 3 clear situations deserving of TFC consideration. (1) Maj passing the ball across the D straight to their attacker for an open smash on goal (but brilliantly saved by Tucks in his sparkly green shorts); (2) The ever reliable Rob Pringle trying an aerial, and it did go up, up and away, but only by about 3 inches (10 cm for you youngsters) and about 12 inches away (30 cm); (3) or the moment when Tucks saved a Purley attack, ended up on the ball which slipped out and sat about 2 inches off our goal line, to which 2-3 Purley attackers started bashing Tucks with sticks like he was a pinata. Clearly the now infamous sparkly green shorts made it look like he was fully of tasty sweets. So I decided it was bundle time, and not quite sure what happened but after jumping into the pack (I think assisted by Dave Pike) ended up with about 4 players over the line and into the net, but more importantly the ball not crossing the line. A Purley short corner awarded and saved by the fortress that is Blenheim.
Most would have to agree, that 1-1 was a very fair result, and to take some points against what is probably the best team we have come across is a good result and sets us up nicely for revenge against Kenley 2’s who beat us 3-1 at last encounter.
People power decided the votes back at the club house, and a joint TFC vote this week to Maj and Rob Pringle, and Man-of-the Match has to go to Tuckers for some great saves and ensuring we came away with some well deserved and hard fought points.