Keens Park Rangers Old’uns 5 VS Keens Park Rangers Young’uns 2
Man of the Match: James Nixon (honourable mention to Owen Stutchbury)
Goals (Old’uns): Owen Stutchbury, Liam Harrison, James Nixon (2), Michael Harvey (yes really)
Goals (Young’uns): Dan Way, Gareth Reynolds
The annual Crimbo roll-up, like last year, produced another ‘upset’ with the old’uns triumphant in a highly entertaining match. But whereas last year’s victory hinged upon a controversial penalty there was little need for the old’uns to resort to the ‘dark arts’ (even if James O’Shea rekindled his targeting of Dan Way).
Much frivolity ensued before the match but whereas the young’uns went through a semi-serious warm up the old’uns’ kept it real by simply booting balls at the empty goal. Despite a few missing faces the young’uns looked a very strong outfit. Many first teamers were present and they even had the temerity to bring in a ringer (the highly rated Luke Mitchell).
Despite their youth (all under 28) many of the young’uns looked as if they were still on the ‘golf course’ having, the night before, completed ’18 holes’ in town. One can only assume this was the case as the old’uns raced into a three-nil lead.
The first was a penalty after Rob Partridge handled a cross from the right. Referee Gary Beight demonstrated 20/20 vision in spotting the offence from the centre circle and Owen Stutchbury slotted it past makeshift footballer (sorry keeper) Chinga with ease.
The second was an excellent lobbed finish from Liam Harrison but he had got goal side of a defence playing a very high line far too easily after both centre backs decided not to attempt a headed clearance. That said it was all old’uns at this point and the vintage eleven were getting a good deal of joy down the left wing. Eventually the pressure told and Nixon, playing at a pace none of the young’uns could deal with on the day, scored a third having shrugged off the right back and shooting at an acute angle rather than square the ball to O’Shea who had endangered himself in completing a lung-bursting run into the box.
Poor Chinga could only deflect the ball into the net at the near post but the young’uns were now beginning to pose a few questions of John O’Shea in the old’uns goal. Keeper O’Shea was blessed to have a very committed defence – led by old’uns manager Chainey in what looked like a wind sock for shorts – in front of him. He was far from idle however and he needed to produce two or three excellent saves before the end of the first half.
Old’uns captain & enforcer, Chainey
Most of these were shots from distance but the young’uns were getting closer in hitting the post and, even, getting the ball into the net after an excellent save from O’Shea. Sadly for the young’uns the goal didn’t count as the scorer was flagged off side by linesman Budgie.
Unlike the young’uns who were making frequent substitutions, Chainey had opted to save the bulk of his changes for half time but the changes altered the match very little. It was however the introduction of young’un Adam East that provided one of the game’s highlights.
The ressies have a marvelous weapon in East who can set the tone for a match with one crunching tackle. As such there had been much relief among the old’uns that there had not been enough kit for him before the match but, now kitted out, the fears of many were realized when East was introduced after the ball went out for a throw in. A bullish East announced his introduction with a “I’m gonna do you” to Nixon but, within what must have been no more than two seconds, Nixon had not only nutmegged East he had chipped the ball over the keeper into the net.
Uproar on the touchline ensued as East – no doubt wishing the ground would swallow him whole – sank to his knees in a manner akin to the death of Sgt. Elias in Platoon. Four nil was beginning to look embarrassing but all the pressure was on the old’uns defence. Dan Way was up to his usual tricks and despite keeper O’Shea shouting for the midfield and defence to get Way onto his right foot the crafty blonde matchstick managed to evade at least three attempted tackles before shifting the ball and striking a sweet shot into the opposite top corner.
This was arguably the pick of the goals so far but little did we realize that the best was still to come. Despite an excellent first touch and finish on the run, it was not Gareth Reynolds second for the young’uns however. It was, in fact, Michael ‘Fat Boy’ Harvey who would top off the days proceedings with a goal for the ages. – even if it involved the bullying of a fourteen year old.
Having been brought on to play up front Harvey was largely isolated as a combination of young’uns pressure and fatigue had forced the old’uns to defend deep in their own half. Having repelled a yet another young’uns attack the ball fell to Gary Mitchell who then delivered a pass so disguised even he didn’t know where it was going.
As it turned out it went into acres of space on the right of the young’uns area and the fresh-legged Harvey demonstrated surprising speed in getting to the ball first. Such was his isolation there wasn’t another old’un within thirty yards of him so, like it or not, he was on his own. In the end it didn’t matter as the determined Harvey strong-armed young Archie Harris away before drifting past a second defender and then, to everyone’s amazement, lofting the ball inside the far post!
The ensuing mass bundle was more about the quality of the goal and it’s unlikely source than the game being made all but safe, especially as there was still a good deal of defending to do as referee Beight’s watch appeared to be broken. After more whole-hearted defending, in what seemed like an endless last fifteen minutes, the old’uns emerged triumphant leaving the losers to put the goals away.
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Experience always counts.