Scorers: Doyle, Newsome (AP 8s) / Scantlebury, Farley, Glassar (AP 7s)
The grudge match was upon us. The 8s run off 6 league defeats in a row was ended in our last match with a 3-nil victory at the Vamps, no we were looking for another win to boost our points tally and hopefully stave off some complicated relegation possibilities.
The last time the sides met back in October the game finished with a shock 2-1 win to the 8s. Current 8s players Miller, Robson and Groom were all plying their trade with the 7s on that fateful afternoon. The “Banager” clearly considered these players at fault for the loss and were dropped shortly after, surely the 7s would now triumph with these liabilities no longer in team? The game began is comical fashion for the 8s, as the designated “home” side a change kit was needed and the only one available was a blue apparently in sizes XXS, XS and S. It appears that the 7s were however intimidated by Robbo’s 6 pack now on display as he put in some strong tackles and powerful headers in the early minutes. With the 8s shooting uphill with the sun in our eyes for the first half, it was crucial to get to 45 minutes without being behind. The 7s caused us problems early on with some fluid movement of their attackers in a 3 5 2 formation, often overloading players down the right flank. Glassar and Miller were running hard up top to close down the 7s defence with Scants and Kaverne winning tackles and headers in the midfield. McGrath and Davies started on the wings and helped to push back the 7s wing backs. The 8s struggled to keep possession but had a few dangerous through balls cut out. It was a tight affair with few chances for either side, but with some nervy moments at corners. Roughly on the half hour mark a free kick was awarded to the 8s just inside the opposition half. Up steps John Scants.
“I’m shooting” he says calmly.
“Yeah Scants… Sounds good” say his teammates, sweating nervously as we do so.
“It’s going bottom corner”
He steps up and smashes the ball. It goes over the heads of everyone and appears to be drifting wide, only for the ball, probably terrified of Scants itself, to skip off the turf and creeps inside the post, Scants shrugs and jogs 2 yards back to his own half, no big deal. 1 nil up the 8s defend well and work hard to see out the half, now with the sun and the slope on our side for the second half.
A dramatic second half began in the same way as the first, scrappy football, lots of long throws and hard graft. The 7s equalizer emerged from controversial circumstances as the referee apparently had a sneezing fit and missed two blatant late challenges on marauding left back Groom and within two passes the 7s put a good ball into the box that 8s keeper Brill couldn’t quite hold and it fell into the path of Liam Doyle to tap into an empty net.
Game on at 1 all but the 8s didn’t let their heads go down and kept working. Jack “The Salmon” Farley made his name in the 8s previous league game with an outrageous headed clearance off the line and he was at it again today with some great clearances. But it was at the other end that he was to prove heroic today. Kennedy’s corners had caused the 7s all sorts of trouble and this time there was an end product. Farley rose to knock in the ball in and bring the 8s back into the lead. A few minutes later the 8s won a free kick out wide on and Scants this time decided that one goal was enough for him today and he’d try and set someone up. A brilliant ball hung in the air for Tom Kaverne to head down into the path of Glassar who made no mistake from 6 yards.
3 – 1 up with 20 minutes to play and the 7s were looking desperate. Banny NoGoala brought himself back on pushed for another goal. Brill had to make 2 good saves but otherwise the 8s looked comfortable, and would have been 4 – 1 up if it wasn’t for 3 incredible blocks on the line in quick succession from a combination of 7s defenders. Tempers began to flare with some accusations of some off the ball elbowing being thrown around and a squaring up of Bowhill and Robson. With Marcelo Guimeres now on the pitch the 8s had an outlet to hold the ball and try and grab a goal on the counter. It looked like it could happen on a few occasions. Guimares and Glassar both going close. But with 5 minutes remaining the game turned on its head. A mix up between Groom and the otherwise faultless Robson allowed Newson of the 7s to sneak in and clip a finish into the bottom corner after taking past the keeper.
The 7s sensed they could snatch an equalizer and threw men forward. They won a corner with only seconds remaining. It was at this point that the referee, apparently done with this game decided he would just close his eyes for 60 seconds and wait to see where the ball was when he opened them again. All 22 players were in the 8s box and hug scramble ensued. Six 7s players were offside at once point and about three of them fouled 8s keeper Brill, a heroic block from Scants left him on the ground and, sensing a rare moment of vulnerability from the big man, everyone decided to give him a good kick. The ball fell to Banny whose tame shot was cleared upfield to Glassar. With an open goal in view from the half way line his shot was drifting wide, but hang on! Jack Farley was sprinting up the pitch to get to the ball before it went off, but couldn’t quite make it. However this didn’t stop his gamesmanship tactics to chuck the ball away from 7s defender Matt Garner, who responded with a wild kick on Farley. The referee comes sprinting down towards them with his notebook in hand…. But apparently didn’t see it and awarded a goal kick.
But the game was done. 3 – 2 to the 8s which meant a league double over the 7s and back to back league victories. The 8s fixtures are now complete and we currently sit in 5th place, but with other games still to play we need to wait and see whether we could drop as low as 9th .
Editors note: Match report from AP 7s