LCWM45 vs Wahroonga 10/08/2008

Lane Cove West 1, Wahroonga 2

 

10 August 2008, Blackman Upper

 

Another fighting performance against good opposition. But this time we couldn’t quite manage a draw; or to repeat our result on the first day of the season which is still Wahroonga’s only defeat.

 

It was back to the bad old weather of Blackman Upper: a wind reminiscent of the one that blows from the Russian steppes across . This one is not so much a prevailing wind, as an exclusive wind: has anyone known it to blow at Blackman other than straight across the pitch? 

 

Funny how the character of teams doesn’t change, even when the personnel do. (This is my grandfather’s axe. We changed the handle, and we changed the blade. But it’s still my grandfather’s axe). We’ve been playing this Wahroonga team for 30 years. I say “this” team, though today there were only Mickey Foster and Warren left of the originals. But they still play in the same way: fluent, competent, but somehow grudging and joyless. Yes, they celebrated the goals, but the rest of the time, the football was good but the mood was not. It’s almost as if they don’t actually like football: they’re still playing because their Dads made them. 

 

We called on Pete W for the wise words before the game today, instead of waiting till we’re losing at halftime. It was all to do with zones; how we had to not chase everywhere, but be prepared to zone off. This latter was a new one for some of us, but I assumed it meant that I could have a breather now and then and let someone else do the running. I hope I got that right.

 

But the words were inspiring, whatever they meant, and after an initial 2 minutes in which we didn’t touch the ball, we settled down to close marking and denying Wahroonga the space for their fluent, if grumpy, natural game.

 

Pete N, guesting at the back again, held firm, and allowed Jon B to push further forward to good effect. As last week our chances fell mostly to mid-fielders with all of Scott, Peter and Howard blasting away, Scott rattling the cross-bar with one attempt. James also had a chance on the left, but the ‘keeper smothered.

 

Phil made a welcome return to the out-field, and the injury held up well: there was certainly no hint of hesitation in some crunching tackles, and sprints up the left wing. Steve L and Martin were resolute too. In fact, everyone was on song, and we looked like we could contain whatever Wahroonga threw at us.

 

So half-time found us in good spirits at 0-0, but the second half proved more of a challenge.

 

Fairly early on, Jon B was harshly judged to have fouled a defender, despite (as he is probably still protesting to the ref as we speak) getting the ball in what looked like a fair way. Worse, the ref was persuaded that some graze on the (otherwise pristine) surface showed that offence occurred in the area, and gave a penalty. But, never fear! Tony flung himself low to his right and pushed the shot aside: justice!

 

On we battled, James, Dave & I getting stuck in up front, eliciting some desperate and not always fair reactions. Eric was combative, too, and everywhere there were bodies committed to the cause.

 

And a face: mine got hammered, full on, at close range (unintentionally) by a clearance. My lips are no longer numb but, rather worryingly, my wisdom teeth are still aching: I think they’re telling me it’s not wise to get your face in the way of a pile-driver.

 

Just when it looked like we were going to get the draw that our play to date had deserved, Wahroonga struck. The scorer was “Horse”, or something like that. He must be new, as he plainly doesn’t know that flair is not the go in this team: he waltzed around our entire defence, before drawing Tony out and slipping the ball past him. Brilliant, and not much anyone could have done: 0-1.

 

Not long after, Mickey Foster struck a speculative shot high and hard. For the third week in a row, a swirling shot beat our retreating ‘keeper, and now it was 0-2.

 

Still we didn’t give up, and with 3 minutes to go, we got a life-line. I can’t remember the build-up, but the end was almost exactly the same action, and in the same place, as the goal that got us back to 3-3 in the last minute against Kissing Point: confusion in the area, ball bobbling, and there’s Dave, twisting and turning to force it in at close range: 1-2.

 

But Wahroonga held on (dourly of course) and trudged off the winners.

 

My enjoyment of our achievement was slightly dented on learning that Wahroonga had had only 10 men. But we gave it our best shot.

 

Thanks to Howard for reffing in the blizzard at 1pm, and to Steve L and me for being linesman.

 

It was too cold (especially after a 3pm kick off) to do 321 voting after the game, so result next week.

 

 

 

MARK BRYANT