With the 7s top of the league and on fine form coming off the back of a 7 goal victory we knew we were coming into the derby match as underdogs. We would have to be at our best to win this one. Looking like Real Madrid all in white we started strongly, but the game was tight and both teams were locked into a midfield battle and struggled to get any clear chances. It was tense, very tense. We weren’t helped by our midfield breaker, Jack sustaining a blow to the knee as a result of a poor challenge and having to be carried off. Perhaps for his pre-match banter Ditmar in particular seemed to be singled out for some rough treatment, being fouled as soon as he breathed near the ball. Then with about 35 mins gone things got worse, the 7s got a free kick which was sent low into the box, several players went for it but no one got it and somehow it bobbled through to the person we least wanted it to go to… Ben took a touch taking it past the keeper and slotting home. The 7s went 1-0 up. We kept on battling, but it seemed we hadn’t quite got to grips with the slope and kept overplaying the ball and had few clear openings.
We went in at half time knowing this was going to have to be our biggest half of the season so far. We were going uphill and it was going to be hard, but we were still confident we had the fire power to rescue the situation. We were still very much in the game.
The second 45 saw the 6s pour pressure onto the 7s defence, and the chances started coming. Tris broke through on the left and was in on the keeper. Gus blocked with his body, but the ball ricocheted back to Tris who bundled it into the net. But alas, our celebrations were cut short. The referee failed to understand the fundamental rules of handball (must be hand to ball not ball to hand) and he ruled the goal out. Controversy reigned…and it wouldn’t be for the last time. 10 minutes later and we were in again, this time Banny sidestepping the defence and being clumsily scythed down inside the box. It couldn’t have been more obvious, the ref blew his whistle and despite all the 7s trying to cheat us by suggesting it was outside the box, he pointed towards the spot. Jorge stepped up, the tension was palpable and the penalty, well that was pretty lame. But fortunately Gus’ clean sheet luck ran out and the ball squirmed under him and we were level.
The match was evenly poised, but now we looked the more likely to score. Sam had Ben in his pocket and the 7s could see no way past our 3 man wall. The football was however punctuated by numerous bookings from a referee who seemed to be more trigger happy than Dom Jolly. The introduction of the debutant Marco into the forward line injected more pace, and it was his mazy run that unlocked the 7s defence again. He took the ball to the byline and cut back to Jorge whose shot deceived Gus yet again and we were ahead, 2-1. As we picked up the pace we started to dominate all over the pitch and the game was there for the taking. The third came with some good work from Terry, whose sliced shot-come-pass broke once again to Jorge just inside the box. On this kind of form Jorge wasn’t going to miss and curled his shot into the net for his hat-trick, 3-1.
With memories of the previous weeks capitulation in the back of my mind, we were determined not to repeat the same mistake. We dug deep as the 7s became more and more desperate, but it was the 7s who once again cracked. With Will loosing his rag and needlessly throwing the ball away when on a yellow card, he saw red and the 7s were reduced to 10. The rest should have been a formality, were it not for a late tap-in from Tommy White, which I barely remember. The ref signalled 5 minutes of injury time, which I can only assume was 1 minute for actual injuries and 4 minutes for Rob to walk off the bloody pitch! Even so the 6s defended stoutly and saw out a thoroughly deserved victory.
What pleased me as much as the victory was the fight and determination we showed to get back into the match, heads never dropped, we never lost the belief and we worked our arses off. It wasn’t always pretty, but Jorge added a touch of class to proceedings. For his first AP hat-trick he deservedly wins man of the match.