Back at the marshes for another action packed Sunday full of goals, tempers, greasy surfaces and classic football howlers. The team this week are one of Phoenix’s bogey teams, Soho FC the supposedly better team out of the two fielded in this year’s Unity League. Soho are at home, we’re the away side but playing at our home ground, that’s how amateur football works folks!
After getting lost in the middle of the multiple pitch site that is Hackney Marshes I finally find the shocking pink kit of Phoenix and the garish orangey yellow of Soho amongst the footballing heroes of East London’s famous proving ground. The pitch was questionable, wet but bobbly, trustworthy yet unpredictable, this was going to be as much of a hinderance as the strong wind blowing from end to end.
Starting line up consists of the following, in a converted 4-4-2 with internal diamond formation, perhaps upside down Christmas Tree with a flat top? See diagram below:
Kick off and we start the cagey affair as both teams suss each other out and test the pitch’s capabilities.
Luke the Immenser (I’m changing this up as he can’t have 3 different nicknames, not entirely happy with this one but it’s better than the previous mouthful…) settles in nicely to his CB pairing with Gluteous Maximus Mike. He utilises his natural ability on either foot to play the difficult balls out of defence up to our attacking threat. Dependable and strong defensive line up is backed up by Harrison although charged with an attacking mindset he finds himself deep in the Phoenix half but calmly deals with any trouble with finesse.
The first 5 minutes is a pretty even stand off. Soon Phoenix mark there authority with a pleasing display of keep ball, the pre match drills working wonders. Phil the Power shows off some classy skill with a drag flick past a bewildered Soho-er and Harrison annoys the Soho defenders and some of his teammates with a flurry of cut backs, we’re keeping count on these mate! The next match we’ll have a cut back party, Jack and Harrison leading the way…
Curly Tom is next in on the act backing up his return to 11s last week with an improved second game at RM, he’s got the strength and skill hold off Soho inviting Casey to push forward in an unofficial role reversal with Harrison, Casey is looking even more determined than usual skipping past the Soho midfield.
As Phoenix build on a good start Nicky takes a pop shot at goal only to be thwarted by the Soho keeper who turns it round the post. 15 minutes in and a Non Grunt Nicky long throw sails over everyone to the far post where Harrison is patiently waiting, he takes a touch and blasts it straight at the Soho keeper who again keeps it out, another chance missed.
20 minutes played, Ukrainian Tom slides a Zinchenko special through to Nicky who is one on one with the Soho keeper. He takes one touch too many and a Soho CB slides in to steal the show, should’ve taken that one early and used the greasy surface to his advantage, another chance missed. Frustrations start to show as antics from the big man in the Soho defensive line ruffle the feathers of both Nicky and Jack, we have to keep our heads if it’s going to be one of those days…
30 minutes gone and Soho pounce on some worryingly wide gaps through the Phoenix midfield but Mike’s glutes push him on to an excellent recovery only to accidentally clash with the rushing Soho-er. That could’ve been a foul and a sending off but the referee is favourable and we escape…for now.
Soon Soho exploit those gaps and gain a free kick right on the edge of the Phoenix 16 yard box, we’re quick to organise but a clean hit and Steve has no chance, 1-0 Soho, against the run of play and it’s definitely going to be one of those days!
The resulting kick off showcases the talent Phoenix are currently employing as Harrison, Martin (on for Mr Anderson) and Jack all combine beautifully down the left for Jack to finish with the equaliser. 1-1, game on!
Chairman Mabbutt is also on for Curly Tom who’s shift down the right side is exemplary, glad to see the Mabbutt in his prime once more with pace and drive in a favoured position.
But the gaps have not been addressed in midfield and a Soho breakaway allows another easy finish to make it 2-1 to Soho. Far too easy and heads start to drop, not even Luke the Immenser can save us now, his last ditch slide deflects the ball (with his arm!) past Super Stopper Steve who could do nothing.
With 5 or so minutes left in the half it gets worse as yet again the gates are open and Soho are cordially invited to waltz through once more for another easy tap in for 3-1. Uncharacteristic mistakes have cost us dearly, we cannot wait to get to half time, it’s either that or let’s hope the marshland develops a sinkhole for us all to get swallowed up. It’s really that bad.
Half Time and a refresher on the line up plus some angry team talking instigating encouraging words gets us ready for a battle in the second half. Second half starting 11 below:
Immediately the tough half time encouragement pays dividends as after a minute of second half action Steve utilises the wind in his favour to launch a Hail Mary towards the Soho goal. Whilst the ball makes it’s way through the horizontal rain he shouts at his teammates to chase it, ensuring the pressure on the Soho back four and keeper.
But it is not needed because the Soho CB gets a flick trying to help his keeper by taking the edge off that John Lukic punt upfield but he only confuses the keeper into misjudging the bounce, twice. He grasps with panicking hands and loses balance, the ball nestles in the bottom corner. 3-2, the comeback is on! Own goal? A Super Stopper Steve shot from his own penalty area? We’ll never know for sure, the players post match are split down the middle with some favouring the ride to Leicester next weekend in Steve’s car over the actual events on this day, yes Hybrid Chris, we do not forget.
60 minutes played and some multi substitute action from the Phoenix sideline brings Not Blond Tom in for Harrison, Mr Anderson back in for Ukrainian Tom and Curly Tom in for Non Grunt Nicky. But it’s not enough to rotate to get fresh legs on as 5 minutes later Soho again capitalise on yet another Phoenix mistake to make it 4-2. Our good start to the second half takes a blow.
Desperate times call for Luke the Immenser to return and he replaces Jack up front. Jenny Denny starts to take control of the vacuous midfield area by commanding the ball and bullying the Soho guys with skills and tricks. No headers today but he did what was missing in the first half.
70 minutes played and a Phoenix corner is flicked out to Mr Anderson on the edge of the box who lashes out with his so called weaker right foot. His volley is too much for the Soho keeper and it ends up in the back of the net for 4-3! What a strike and even though he quietly and modestly protests that he’s left footed or no footed, we all can see his technique is sound. I’ve seen it in training and I think it’s a left footed type of right footed gimmick!
Phoenix are now on the front foot pegging Soho back again and again. Chairman Mabbutt bombing down the right wing pulling back a cross to Not Blond Tom who’s shot is blocked, it falls to Martin but again Soho get bodies in the way. This game is getting exciting!
75 minutes in and another Phoenix corner is lofted to the back post where an unmarked Immenser casually and powerfully heads home for the equaliser! 4-4, the comeback is complete! Soho’s marking was non existent, Luke took advantage and we deservedly get back on terms.
Mike has a shoulder injury and luckily his glutes are unaffected but with 10 minutes to play Ukrainian Tom is thrown in at CB, a job he didn’t want but options are thin on the bench.
80 minutes gone and Marcel Graves gets a run out sporting his new braided locks with style and grace, Martin is given a rest as we continue to push.
85 minutes Curly Tom presses well, Not Blond Tom gets the benefit and it results with a shot on goal from Luke the Immenser, parried away by the Soho keeper. We are finishing the better team and eager to get that winner.
But it’s not all Phoenix because as players get forward it leaves our defence vulnerable to the counter, Ukrainian Tom out of his comfort zone at CB with a crucial tackle to keep it tight as the final minutes tick by. It looks like Chris’s Hybrid engine has finally run dry after a cheeky nutmeg on the Soho winger he releases the ball upfield only to fall to his knees. It’s been a tough day at the office for all involved.
Final score 4-4.
We played badly today against a Soho side that should’ve been well beaten early on. Mistakes from individuals flattered the scoreline in the first half and quite frankly it was painful to watch. Team spirit won us a point today as all got stuck in to get something out of the second half. But it should’ve been so much more, Soho FC will likely have a stronger squad for the return fixture and we hope to have filled those gaps by then!
Speedie’s Controversial Man of the Match Award.
Today football was the winner, heavy horizontal rain, strong winds, greasy uneven pitch, bouncing balls, 8 goals. It was entertaining and frustrating all at once. Nobody had a stand out performance but after some quick chat over a unsubstantial vegan nut roast post match I’ve decided to give Casey the honours this week. His first half performance was the only bright spark we had, he tenaciously ran amok and also managed to drive past Soho reminiscent of an early Gazelle (ahem). He did this single handed after being constantly outnumbered in that vast space supposedly called the Phoenix midfield. Strong first half display from Phil the Power and a second half shift from Chairman Mabbutt, worth noting. Ukrainian Tom also played well throughout, Mr Anderson wins goal of the day as does Super Stopper Steve if we accept his shot being on target, well do we?
Next Sunday it’s the cup semi final away at Leicester, let’s hope the guys don’t have too much fun the night before…I won’t be in attendance so will try to outsource the reporting duties to another if possible. Got some cat sitting clients to take of back here, I do love my cats!
Lack of available pictures this week made me resort to improvisation regarding media in these reports. I’ve been trying to recruit a photographer in the form of a Phoenix veteran only known as the German Penguin AKA Vegan Warrior. Some may know who I mean but unfortunately the Penguin was unavailable this week but we hope to get him down in two weeks time for the Soho Freedom game in June.