LCWM45 vs Greenwich 12/04/2008

Lane Cove West 3, Greenwich 0

12 April  2008, Blackman

Maybe we’re getting picky. A few years ago, a 3-0 win would have been manna from heaven. But something was missing today. The passion of last week for a start.


A lot of today was not good football. But, as with the tango, it takes two. Our opponents lacked the skill and poise of last week’s and the better team got dragged down a level.


But still, look on the bright side. Think how bad we’d feel if we’d lost! And we never really looked secure until the third goal went in, deep into the second half. So, ugly as some of it was, we plugged away for the whole game, and came away with a result which puts us second in the league: surprisingly, one of only two teams to have won both opening games.


We started well. Matt was playing his first game of the season, but showing no signs of rust. Five minutes in, he sets off on a run down the left. Bob (I think it was) slides the perfect pass in front of him, and Matt shoots. Quite a way out and the goalkeeper has it covered. He catching it... yes he is… no he isn’t… yes…no, he’s dropping it over the line behind him! 1-0.


This should have settled us down but we still seemed jittery. The thing about the offside ploy [have I been asleep, or is this a new ploy secretly hatched over the close season?] is that four-fifths of one really doesn’t quite do it. You need unanimous resolve and execution, and now and then it was a bit of a worry. It also, of course, needs a linesman with more than an inkling of the rules. Which our defence in the first half had (in Scott, Howard’s friend; Scott, who spend his evenings pushing pins into models of each of us in the hope that injuries will bring him a coveted place amongst us).


The offside game also needs swift attention to the ball over the top or through. Not too far into the game, one such eluded the defence, and a goalward Greenwich forward found that it fell nicely for him Very shortly after, he fell - rather less nicely -  under a Howard tackle, of which the mildest descriptor could be “clumsy”. Stronger words were heard from our opponents, suggesting that sending off was the order of the moment.


Howard later said that the thought now popped into his mind that the ref was Ivan; whom Howard seemed to remember having sent off on a similar occasion not so long ago; a recollection which he suspected that Ivan might share. But wise, compassionate Ivan had seen that (as Howard assured us later) Howard had actually slipped into the tackle, rather than intending it, and that a (virtual) yellow card would suffice.


We had several chances for a second goal. Phil, in particular, was combative, and chased a through ball all the way to the area, shot, and was very unlucky when the rebound from the keeper hit him but cannoned wide.


Then came the incident about which our opponents were still fuming at the end of the game. But they had no-one but themselves to blame. Firstly their linesman: he does know the rules, but unfortunately, not the version of them now in force. I ran onto a good pass from Phil, from well onside. James, I’m told, was in an offside position beyond me, but nowhere near the ball, and he certainly didn’t go for it (no point: I would have pushed him aside). Up goes the linesman flag, and (second mistake) every Greenwich defender stops. I run on to find the keeper not only not challenging: he’s not even looking. It did occur to me that it would be really embarrassing to miss. So I tried very hard not to, and didn’t. Ivan (did I mention that he was wise?) consulted the lineman, then correctly gave the goal. 2-0, and coasting, one would think.


But the half-time talk was, rightly, about how we could do better: just play football, was Peter’s request: trap, pass, move, and the goals will come.


A strategy that we tried to implement, and as the game wore on (gosh: 45 minutes is a lot longer than 40!) it was all happening a bit more. But the defence was often stretched too: whilst I can’t remember a serious attempt on goal (and their first corner came well into the second half) Tony had to stay on his toes, and everyone was scrambling in the heat.


So there was a collective sigh of relief when, after about 70 minutes, James got on the end of a good cross (free kick?) from Phil (again). James was under heavy challenge from the keeper (who had redeemed his earlier error with some really good catches), but kept his eye on the ball which went in off a defender: 3-0.


There was still more work to do to keep a clean sheet (six from last year, is the standard to beat). But we made more chances, too: Dave seemed to have got the ball over their line in a melee at one point, but it was hard for Ivan to see. I made a chance by heading a cross from the right into space beyond a defender’s left, so wrong-footing him. But the cunning plan had failed to foresee that the ball would now be on my right foot, which is my wrong foot, and a blast over the bar was the result.


Dave took over the man-of-the-match tallying duties, as Ernie had rushed off somewhere. Perhaps an accountant is the wrong person for the job, as decimal points have never before featured in the result (which was so long in the telling that there seemed a danger that dinner would be spoilt by the time we got home). Matt was third for all the running and the early goal; James second: ditto except the late goal. But Martin was man-of-the-match for stalwart defending under pressure: another indication that the win was not as comfortable as we would have wished.


So it’s an odd table: all six possible point scores after two games. Five of the fourteen games played have been drawn. Greenwich, whom we beat today, had drawn last week. Wahroonga, whom we beat last week, won today (against St Ives, whom we play next week). If any of this meant anything, we might feel confident for the season. But it doesn’t. Probably.


Thanks to Ivan for reffing us, and to Scott for running the line. Also to Willy for turning up to bring the shirts (which we didn’t need) and to be linesman for the O35Bs (who turned out not to need one). And to Howard for the beers.