RAMPANT REDS (1) 8 Short 4, Wood, Pattison, Carter, Bates.
LILYWHITES (0) 0
Given that 8-0 should have been the half-time score, and that Claims only had eight or nine players (and I use the term loosely), wild jubilation should be abandoned in favour of disgust. By my reckoning we had roughly thirty, yes thirty, goal-scoring opportunities, at least fifteen of which came in the first half, from which we managed one goal. However, given that we had a few “squad” players playing in the absence of Hardcastle, Ford, Coe, Wolf and McGuire, a victory was all we could ask for.
The opening ten minutes were 80/20 in our favour, but after that we really took the game by the scruff of the neck, with Short going close. After twenty minutes, good work by Pattison, yes Pattison, enabled SHORT to convert from an acute angle, and celebrate in customary style by abusing the Claims’ goalie’s Mum, and shouting “Get in there” as loud as possible. From then until half-time a siege took place, though to be honest Cave did make two or three saves which can only be described as “Coe-like”. By half-time, seven Life Service players had had shots on goal, but only Short had found the Claims onion bag. Notable misses included Laming’s shot past the post after pelting fifty yards with the ball glued to his foot, Bates’ miskick with the goal begging, numerous Wood raids ending with the familiar sound of the ball hitting the fence behind the goal, a weak Carter shot with the goal at his mercy, a save by Beagley after Pattison worked himself an opening, etc, etc, etc. The general feeling that the game was being played in the Twighlight Zone rather than Alexandra Park reached its peak when the half-time whistle blew with the score still stuck at 1-0.
The pattern continued in the 2nd half, Short and Bates contriving misses when a goal would have been bread & butter for someone of the calibre of the missing McGuire. Then, suddenly, things changed. SHORT found himself on the end of a dream ball from Bridger, turned, and rolled the ball like a Nick Faldo putt inside the Claims post. “Get in there”.
From the kick off, the rampaging Short set-up WOOD, and it was 3-0, and Claims could hear the familiar sound of the floodgates beginning to creak open. SHORT’S pre-match worries that this could be his first game against Claims where he didn’t score a hat-trick were put to rest when he rifled in LSD’s fourth, again from an acute angle. “Get in there”.
At this point, LSD’s new striking sensation Simon Pattison was starting to feel the pace. Claims knew he was the man to target, and over an hour of late tackles, elbows in the face etc had reduced “The Huddersfield Hit Man” to a shambling wreck. Luckily for him, his route off the pitch , having finally given-in to cramp, took him through the Claims penalty area during another LSD raid. Wood found Short, who found Laming, whose weak shot seemed to have been saved. However, the ever-friendly Claims goalie allowed the ball to squirm away, and yes, you guessed it, PATTISON, sharp as a fish, prodded the ball over the line, prompting a celebration not seen since LSD last played Claims, when McGuire found the net.
At 5-0 the game was obviously won, but there was still time for SHORT to take his season’s tally to ten with a fine finish. A rare Claims attack then allowed Cave to cynically hack his man down, and escape even a yellow card. The ref was obviously in no mood to test LSD’s new-found “goody-goody” image, preferring instead to remember past encounters which had almost ended in a bloodbath when a Life Service player was cautioned. Anyway, Cave successfully feigned injury for long enough to allow everyone to forget why the game had been stopped.
Ever alert, CARTER made it seven for Pat Chubb’s Red Army, before BATES received the ball in the box, faked panic, shimmied, and stuck the ball away, allowing LSD to maintain their average of eight per game against the poor, unfortunate Claims goalie. Apparently, by now someone had phoned the RSPCA to complain about our disgraceful cruelty to dumb animals. The ref decided to blow for time, before our goal difference began to resemble Manchester United’s.
“DREAM TEAM” POINTS
Cave (9) A sound, often spectacular display by Mr Late himself, who made numerous saves when the score was 0-0. His commitment to the cause may no longer be doubted, especially after a body-check that could still get him charged with GBH.
Bridger (9) Drafted in to replace the expectant Ford, turned-in a classic performance of grit and skill. Surely worth a place on the bench at least for future games. Beaten once all match, battled as if his life depended on it. Ford must be worried.
Ensor (8) Tackles like an angry pit-bull, but his distribution is lacking on occasions. Seems confused when there’s no-one within 20 yards, but much happier when there’s six people within five feet of him. However, can’t be faulted for heart or determination, anything less than this mark would be outrageously unfair.
Ebbens (8.5) Another solid performance, backed-up by the returning Chubb.His return to form has coincided with his recent marriage. Jason McGuire should think about this. Never reached the heights of his colossal performance against LCD, but never had to. Worthy of this mark.
Chubb (8.5) First game for four months, dodgy back, unfit, playing in defence: all excuses we’re likely to hear from him over the next few days. In truth, never really extended, though as with Ebbens, the competition was poor. No-one could have expected more, though a couple of long range efforts were enough to scare the corner flag.
Carter (8.5) Slotted into his preferred Beardsley role after a dodgy start. Often spoilt for choice when deciding who to put through on goal, so sometimes decided not to put anyone clear. Goal was pure Shearer.
Bates (9) A typical performance, scored, set-up a bagful of chances, took the piss out of Pattison’s cramp walk. Has too much talent to be playing with the likes of us. Revelled in the space in midfield, which sometimes resembled the Sahara.
Wood (8.5) Workmanlike, in the last half-hour was given the freedom of the right flank. Still needs to work on putting crosses in the air occasionally. Speed remains however. A thoroughbred in a team of cart horses.
Laming (8.5) You thought I’d forgotten that miss, didn’t you? Goal at his mercy, just run towards it and roll it in. Not Ady. Ady pulled the trigger from 18 yards, and grazed the wrong side of the bar with a surface-to-air missile. A rare error from the Mad Dog.
Pattison (8) Forget McGuire. This man’s the business. His finishing skills honed to a razor’s edge, his touch a sight to behold. You could tell Claims had resigned themselves to defeat the moment he ambled out onto the pitch in his baggy tracksuit bottoms and pre-shrunk T-shirt. The new Vulture.
Short (10) OK, so it was Claims, they only had eight or nine players, their defence was out to lunch, the space he was allowed was almost an insult. However, Sniffer can’t be blamed for all that. Four goals, surely another Golden Boot on its way to his mantelpiece, an assassin in front of the sticks. I’ve tried to justify a lower mark, but can’t. Take a bow son.