M4 cut down by Worcester
But there must be a winning formula here somewhere….
So onwards it was, spurred by Yogi the Bard’s words on lasts weeks improved second half performance (which I only finished translating just before the start on Saturday), to face Worcester 6ths in the late kick-off at Copt Heath. Like last week, we were operating on minimum resources, just eleven, and some of us nursing underlying knocks and bruises from previous weeks, but ever hopeful that eleven would be sufficient. How wrong can you be?!?
Worcester are a good outfit, a blend of age and experience and fit youngsters. We’re also a good outfit though, and perhaps equally equipped with age and experience, certainly commitment, and youth and energy. But Lanchester’s Linear Law* states that of two equal armies, the one with most soldiers will always win the battle, and so it proved. Two minutes in and Sils were already sitting deep, when a Worcester forward inexplicably lifted a ball in the circle – not a shot, not even remotely towards goal, and not even remotely a pass to another player – but it caught Cap’n Dave in the middle of his forehead from about 4 feet away. Pat did all she could, but the blood was flowing and the egg was growing and glue was needed, and away from the battle trooped our skipper. The turning point of the match with only 68 minutes still to play. Murray dropped back into sweeper, Rushy took up the running of centre midfield, and Keith prepared for what might be a lot of running about with little possibility of actually receiving the ball. We defended stoutly, Charlie Russell once more breaking up several attacks down their right, Laney doing the same on ours, but within about 10 minutes the visitors had a goal. A few minutes later they got another one, but not before Jack Morris had received another blow to an already troubled ankle, and off he hobbled…. down to nine men. Keith dropped back a bit, and our now 3-man midfield went into containment mode. Jack re-joined the fray up front, but James also took a hit to the ankle and this restricted his running, the exception being just one of his now trademark reverse stick dribbles down the left touch line. Our heads remained up and thinking positive, with encouragement all round for each other in what we knew would be a long afternoon. Before the break, Jack was off again, and on again, and off again, and on again, in some kind of a Jack-in-a-Box show which meant re-jigging formations almost constantly…the willing running of Keith was even seen in centre-mid at one stage (always good to start something new in retirement they tell me Keith!).
By the break it was 0-4, and could have been more but for some outstanding saves from Yogi who was thankfully in great form, and some excellent intervention tackles by Steve Dellow at centre back. A regroup at half time was needed. Dave had started us in 3-1-4-2 formation, it had become 3-1-4-1 and then 3-1-3-1 and then 4-4-1 and then 4-3-1-1 (I think…!), and at one point 4-0-0-1-3 (which was when I shouted a lot…., sorry!). Anyway, 4-4-1 was decided on, with defending to be narrow, and recognition that we actually had more time on the ball, and when they have it in their half they can’t score, so let them have it there.
Perhaps hearing that there was potential talent to be spotted in the M4, Sils 1st XI Captain had joined the crowd on the side-line (um, that might be… “had become the crowd” Ed.) and his half time words encouraged us to concentrate on shepherding their attack out to the sides, and stop them getting into the top of the circle. And to be fair, we did this, and like last week our second half performance was better and restricted the opposition, despite being a man or two down on their number. We defended well and kept our shape and kept largely quite calm, but Lanchester was not to be denied and as our battling nine and a half got tired a couple of further goals went in. A frustrating afternoon got the better of a couple of our players, one saw green and another probably should have, and to add insult to the string of injuries, JH’s back finally creaked once too much and off he went for a rub and a spray from Pat and to watch on helpless from the dug-out for the last 15 minutes. One more astonishing save from Yogi, one more goal from them, and that was that.
It’s been a tough start to our South West 1 league life, but things are improving, and it’s so pleasing to see that our team spirit remains high and our commitment to each other is undiminished. It’s also great to see the development of players like Charlie and James – and that we’re still setting the standard for socialising in the bar!
It would be nice to think that next week we’ll have our skipper back with us and the luxury of a substitute (or even two – I can wish!), but as a final word this is from the Guru up-front, who was a headmaster so should understand these things: “we had 12 for the first game and conceded 9, 11 for the next and let in 8 and today we had 10 and it was 7 – next week just pick 6 and it’ll be 5!!)
*Bet Keith is the only one who ever heard of this… look it up…