First match report of the season, I missed last week’s goal bonanza and a rare Marcel Graves actual goal, yes at the right end too…by the sounds of it this plus many other highlights, the game against Bristol would’ve been hard to keep up with!
So onto the home match with Soho FC, we arrive at our nemesis pitch on Weaver’s Field in Bethnal Green, the site of the infamous puddle sweeping day from a few years back, when we all had a go attempting to sweep the collection of mini lakes away with a large heavy wooden broom. The warm up that day was this and thankfully today the pitch is dry! Well I say that but dry isn’t good either for this playing field as the puddles are now little deserts, dusty and hard. Offering a different challenge to the players on this fine Sunday afternoon.
Sporting our new away kit in fetching green, we had no trouble with the proposed possibility of blending in with the grass, because there wasn’t much around, Soho are in their classic orange which requires sunglasses even for those not hungover from AGM/Baby Tom’s drinkathon the night before. Baby Tom starts on the left wing whether he likes it or not…Starting line up as follows as we go 4-4-2 classic style.
The first ten minute highlights start with a foot stamping on Harrison’s right boot, resulting in a broken lace, he retaliates with a low drive smothered by the Soho keeper. The returning Mo plays with the youthful enthusiasm we remember him for, bamboozling defenders with necessary nutmegs and jinks. No cut backs today, the party is over! Luke puts in a customary knee bleeding tackle and Super Steve gets down and dirty with a diving save.
The first bit of quality to be seen comes from the excellent link play between the midfield, newly voted player of last season Jenny Denny flicks to Rash who lofts a cross field ball to the on rushing Mr Anderson but unfortunately he’s offside.
The full backs have been instructed to press further down the pitch when in posession and do so very well. This causes teams problems not only defending this but also pins their own wingers back in to help. A solid tactic that’s worked well in the past. This however has it’s issues when a goal kick is launched towards Baby T who is most definitely hanging badly, his touch isn’t great and Soho pounce, an honest mistake even when sober! Mr Anderson is already encroaching on the Soho penalty box so the breakaway leaves a 2 on 2 at the back, slide rule pass to the penalty spot and the angry number 10 keeps his cool to make it 1-0 Soho.
Chairman Mabbutt exclaims this is ridiculous, shocking and outrageous defending but it’s the style of play that has won us trophies and makes us difficult to play against. Sometimes it doesn’t work and this is one of those rare times. Baby T needs to drink less is the moral of the story here!Chairman Mabbutt channels this frustration into getting even, gambling on a long ball which should’ve been dealt with he finds himself behind enemy lines. His cross is cut out by the Soho defence but lands at his feet again and whist all others are still picking themselves up from the first wave he fires in the far corner with a sweet left foot. 1-1, game on!
Mo looks like he never left, and although I didn’t see the build up it’s likely a few nutmegs were involved before a clinical left foot makes it 2-1 to Phoenix. Yep that’s more like it.
The game is more even than the scoreline suggest, Phoenix are playing the better football but Soho are dangerous on the counter. In other news Baby T is getting on well but playing percentages against his hangover, check this decision to settle for the corner after his head and legs scream him to stop this nonsense…the corner was well worth the effort Tom! All those corner routines in the warm up and that’s what we get Rash?
Orlando makes an appearance replacing Double L and Chairman Mabbutt quickly secures the RB position against angry number 10 down the Soho right. A match up that will be interesting to watch. Orlando is allowed to get up to speed with the game and the tricky pitch at RW.
A rather large pickup truck parks up near the Soho bench and an even larger man walks with a purpose asking for the manager in charge. Being the one with the loudest voice and the notepad, he thinks it’s me, what little he knows! According to his very official printed and crinkled A4 document we’re not booked on this pitch, he immediately threatens to take the nets down. I try to explain to him how mean that is and any further discussions should take place at half time. Frantic phone calls and messages commence to the pitch booker and our outstanding contribution to the club winner from last night, well let’s say he’s a lovely person because that’s true! Bethnal Green has two equally awful pitches and we’re on the wrong one…
Back to the game as for now the groundsman has disappeared, more silky link up between Mr Anderson who controls the bobble well in Jenny Denny’s direction who moves it on to Harrison who puts it on the floor to feed Rash who slides it through to J Little on for Baby T. His toe poke gets past the Soho keeper but it also heads the wrong side of the post.
J Little again finds himself in the same position as his earlier chance above but this time he’s got experience of the situation and his toe poke is on target to make it 3-1 to Phoenix, a deserved lead as we head into half time.
The team talk takes place whilst I warn the referee of match abandonment due to lack of nets. I suspect it’s praise for a half well played. I’m more concerned that the match can continue!
A quick swap up to start the second half with Chairman Mabbutt lining up with Bleeding Luke at CB, Gluteus Mike on at RB, J Little continues down the left flank and Rash drops into midfield pushing Harrison further forward.
The groundsman is back and he slowly stalks those nets by driving all around the pitch like a mechanical lion stalking his prey on the Serengeti. He parks up behind the far goal, watch them all scarper as they worry he might just pitch invade with his pick up. Double L Neill and Hybrid Chris go over to try to bribe him with money, pies or anything else he’s into in order to keep the game going. He sees the easy mistake made by our fabulous pitch booking friend and allows us to continue.
Marcel is on for Orlando who early in the second half was starting to get into the groove, a good stint well played! But Marcel is hungry to add to his goal tally this season so let’s get another 3 please! And then an opportunity arises with what I thought was a harsh handball in the Soho box resulting in a penalty to Phoenix. I heard that our player of season last year has not yet scored for the club so Jenny Denny is up. A mature, calm and technically simple strike to make it 4-1. Well done on your recent award and first goal!
Whilst I’m off on ball retrieval duty (nobody else does it better), I return out of the trees to a Soho goal, a great top corner effort that even Super Steve couldn’t get to. Though he still had some excuse about his niggly wrist injury, I think that was on the other side so…the look on his face did say it all though, a good finish! 4-2 to Phoenix, half hour left.
A couple of mid second half action shots for you to enjoy now…courtesy of Original Tom. Thank you!
Bleeding Luke is every bit the reliable sweeper, always there to snuff out the danger expertly, once again he covers the marauding Mr Anderson who sprints back to help only to end up receiving the ball from his teammate. Here’s a proper Bleeding Knee challenge…
But it was this same challenge that takes Luke off the field and returns Baby T to the game! Yay! He wasn’t expecting that! I do have to say though that after a thorough inspection of Luke’s knee I can report there was no where near enough blood, maybe the dust soaked it all up?
A Soho free kick lands in the Phoenix box, a scramble ensues and a player goes down. Penalty awarded to Soho but wait…Jenny Denny is on linesman duties and has something to say. After a quick discussion he lets the referee know that there was an initial offside from the free kick so lucky for us the penalty is nullified. Well done Denny, I know you well to be fair and true, the correct decision has been made.
A hungover flick from Baby T. Enough said.
The last ten minutes are packed with action, Mo is still running well late into the game and gains territory well in order for us to pressure Soho and keep our lead. The flair is not all his though Marcel is getting confident after last week and tries an outrageous Bergkamp flick. Not to be though, this time…The commentary is also good here, a scream of excitement then the realism of asking Double L to put some clothes on…
Marcel finds himself in front of goal again moments later but it falls to his unflavoured foot and even though a good contact is made in the dust it trickles just wide. That was the chance to double the tally!
Meanwhile over on the right wing J Little and his composure are running the show, plucking the high balls from Super Steve’s kicks out of the air with the arrogance of Cantona and the grace of someone happier to do this rather than score! If there was a crowd they would be cheering, but this is Bethnal Green and any crowd would only be interested in stealing our bikes.
Hybrid Chris has played well towards the end as Soho try hard to get another one back, his positioning is superb as the cross comes in from the right. Some might say he was stationary only to recharge and luckily finds himself in the right spot…a few moments later his tackle once again stops Soho from getting anywhere and I’m pretty sure he moved to get there…or did he?
Just before the final whistle the only thing of note was Marcel volleying clear down the left only to lose his boot which worryingly went further than the ball…
Final whistle and it’s a good 4-2 win, not sure exactly what the Soho boys are pointing to here but whatever they did it helped us continue our unbeaten start to the season. Great cohesion across the midfield today, link up play was really nice to watch and the scoreline did slightly flatter Soho but only slightly.
Speedie’s Controversial Man of the Match Award.
This week I’m giving it to the one who put the most effort in, the one who turned up regardless of any antics from the night before, the one who didn’t really know what was going on when playing, the one who ran and ran then wondered where he was, the one who gained cheap corners because he ran out of ideas, the one who’s one of many Toms but there’s only one Baby T.
Well played Phoenix, a team performance to be proud of on a pitch that should be condemned!