While the Super Vets toiled away on the top pitch, literally and figuratively closer to heaven, the so-called real deal took part in a genuine thriller. A topsy-turvey game, on a truly topsy-turvey pitch, brought excitement, calamity, skill, grace and excellence all in a 90-minute spell. Against a team with the two biggest men in Wales in their midst, this was a brilliant if, in the end, slightly disappointing result. Conceding an equaliser with the very last kick of the game was hard to take, but a draw was probably the fairest outcome in a great, great game.
In almost their first attack, the home side made their physical presence count, a long ball sent through and a powered finish. The fight back took a little while to manifest itself, but when it did it brought a new dawn to set pieces. Russ Hall was felled by what looked like a good tackle, but Finnegan, whose hold up play and work rate was excellent throughout, grabbed the ball from Clay. He smashed the penalty home with such venom that the ball only bounced twice before crossing the line. Could the job be his full time?
When Northop Hall went 2-1 up from a corner just before half-time, thoughts might have turned to criticism of slack defending, but given that we conceded only once from easily 20 corners in the match, this was but a blip. Hearts were not broken, determination was self-evident. That determination was galvanised by what were by common consent the best oranges of this or indeed any season; Sunkist from Costco. They cannot be guaranteed from now on because everyone knows that whatever you go to Costco for, you come out £200 lighter. The good news is that because you have to buy in bulk, there should be enough left over for next week.
The second half could not have started better. First the evergreen Angus Whyte curled one in with his left foot. Then James Gendall, back to full fitness and covering every blade of grass (and every rut in-between) curled an even better shot into the other corner. Clay scored the fourth. This was an excellent free kick, all the more memorable because the ref actually had that spray which keeps the wall 10 yards back. It was decidedly unbecoming for him to demand column inches on the way back to his own half, but the fact is that such was the relief that we had found someone who can take a free kick that doesn’t end up with a lost ball that he was forgiven. Could the job be his full time?
The home side rallied, but the defending was resolute, Bodey nearly dying from being very badly winded as another corner was repelled. With three minutes to go, the hosts pulled back a goal with a high quality finished of their own. Eddie Jones battled hard to the end, everyone did their bit and more. By now the Super Vets were all back at the Cricket Club, filling their boots and bellies with curry and chips when to a man they should have been there supporting their erstwhile teammates.
Not everyone might agree with this description of the last-kick equaliser, but only the skipper has login details to the website. So this is what happened (it will not take much imagination to conjure an alternative version): Northop Hall broke down the Vets’ left flank and sent across the perfect cross. A goal seemed certain but the keeper performed heroics and parried the ball away from danger. Reactions in the Vets defence were slow, though, fatigue finally winning through, and Giant Number 2 pounced on the ball and managed to squeeze it in.
Still, it was hard to argue that a draw was anything other than a fair result. It is rare that such a physical game against such a physical team can be played in a truly fair but competitive fashion, but this one was. Credit is due to the starting 11 who were also the finishing 11 (did I mention that the Supers buggered off?!). You made the captain proud.
|February 8, 2020||2:00 pm||Vets XI Fixtures||2019-20|