LRAFC 1st XI 7 v 3 Port Sunlight
The scene was set for an epic Moor Lane encounter, hosting the 2017/2018 Garrison Cup Final thanks to a bit of luck in that the usual pitch at Boughton Hall Cricket Club was suffering from a severe case of “the stiffys”, in that the top 2 foot of matter had been compacted into a block of firm, hard, impenetrable clay. The official line from Chester Nomads was that the guys who had laid the pitch last year had ballsed-up and were due back in the summer to rectify the problem at considerable cost, however deep within the Ramblers 1st XI dressing room we were all grateful that the old stalwart between the sticks had spent many a winters evening doing sausage-rolls up and down the Nomads pitch to ensure we’d get home advantage when required.
The Ramblers lined up in the now more customary 3-5-2 formation. Bagpuss between the sticks looking as elegant and light-footed as always in his black strip, collar up, showing no signs of a lack of action in recent weeks, with a back three comprising Jon “Midfield” Duffy, stand-in skip Liam “The Baldy Bouncer” Doherty and Alex “I Do Like My Shorts Tight” Howard marshalling in front. Mr nice guy Lee Whittingham was to anchor the midfield allowing pint-sized pocket-rocket Gendall and the filly fiddler Kinsey to provide the legs through the middle. White and Howat, the significant mid-season upgrades acquired from the 2nd XI over Ben “Porno-Tash” Phillips and Edward “goodness knows what on earth I have done to my hair” Williamson providing the width, all set-up to supply the potent strike force of Holt and Shields. It’s usual for many a side to opt for a little and large combo up front, and the Ramblers, in keeping with tradition, opted to stick with the same. Shields, the slim-trim athletic half of the duo was not to be outdone by his partner in crime, who’s immobility was as plain to see as was his better halves black undergarments in the recent “party on the train” video splashed across national social media. The bench comprised of Chester, Bradshaw, Martin and Phillips, watching on alongside “master tactician” Hooper.
Following an intense Ramblers warm-up, cones and all, with Port Sunlight opting for the more common Sunday League style of pinging a few balls into an empty net / tennis courts behind, the game began. With an ever-growing and rowdy crowd onlooking, it was Sunlight who took the early ascendancy. A series of robust challenges ruffled the feathers of the Ramblers, with the game quickly turning into some sort of kicking match throughout the first 15. A series of quality Port Sunlight set piece deliveries followed, Bagpuss making a great save low down to his left after seeing the ball late on one occasion, prior to the Ramblers succumbing to an early sucker punch thanks to an in-swinging corner from the right which cannoned in off Duffy’s pert left butt cheek (Doherty’s description not mine). 0v1 Port Sunlight.
Fortunately, this seemed to wake the Ramblers 1st XI up. Holty left a few late challenges in here and there to get the blood pumping and the midfield began to get the ball down and play some of the more crisp passing football we’ve seen throughout this season. As the Ramblers ranked up the pressure, a series of quick fire corners saw the score line switched on its head. Both taken from the right of the goal, in-swinging off the left foot of the energetic Harry Howat, the first was nodded back across goal into the far corner from the rising Howard, prior to the caravan Holt allowing the second similar delivery to bounce in off his more customary “50p head”. LRAFC 2 v 1 Port Sunlight.
From here on in, there looked only to be one team able to win this match. Howat and White were causing major issues down both flanks with their tireless energy and trickery, whilst Holt and Shields were combining well to create the channels in behind and the spaces for the on-rushing midfield. Soon it was 3. Holt picking the ball up from midfield and playing the perfect through ball for Shields to race onto and drive into the bottom left. LRAFC 3 v 1 Port Sunlight.
Substitution – Phillips for Kinsey
Half Time – LRAFC 3 v 1 Port Sunlight
Substitution – Bradshaw for White
After a sketchy first 15 which we will put down to a lack of game time in recent weeks, a much improved final 30 of the first half saw the half time discussion focus on how to nip the game in the bud with a fourth goal, and the 1st XI set about the task immediately with a fine team goal shortly after the break. Picking the ball up deep in midfield, a series a short, sharp passes resulted in White floating a delicate ball into the back stick for the galloping Howat to meet, crashing an exquisite left foot volley into roof of the net past the stranded keeper. LRAFC 4 v 1 Port Sunlight.
This was quickly followed by a fifth. Howat causing problems down the left again saw the Sunlight defence in disarray, the keeper somehow on the edge of the box, allowing Shields to pick the ball up some 25 yards out and float the ball over the lot into the roof of the open goal. LRAFC 5 v 1 Port Sunlight.
Substitution – Martin for Holt / Chester for Howat
A slightly quieter period of the game followed, with a now highly amused crowd watching on as Martin took around 15 attempts to learn how to control a football again after his injury absence over recent months. Soon enough, the goals returned. First up it was Sunlight pegging us back through a fine volley, prior to Shields completing his hat-trick with a tap in at the far post. LRAFC 6 v 2 Port Sunlight.
Substitution – White for Whittingham / Howat for Shields
Martin finally got his act together, and again following some direct play from Howat driving down the left, saw he ball squared from the bye line allowing Martin to tap in at the far post and get himself on the scoresheet. LRAFC 7 v 2 Port Sunlight
Substitution – Kinsey for Gendall
Somewhat embarrassed at the 5-goal lead, Bagpuss then took it upon himself to restore some pride into the Port Sunlight XI, allowing a relatively tame attempt from outside the box to gently flick over his sprawling left palm and into the bottom right of the goal. Some may say that it took a wicked bobble, but knowing the kind of Rambler he is, we all know that if he’d really want to keep it out, he’d have palmed it away for a corner at the very least. LRAFC 7 v 3 Port Sunlight.
Full Time – LRAFC 7 v 3 Port Sunlight
All in all, a great performance from the 1st XI and a thoroughly deserved victory. Roll on next season. Up the Ramblers.
|May 5, 2018||2:00 pm||Garrison Cup||2017-18|
|14 Moor Ln, Thornton, Liverpool L23 4TW, UK|