Keens Park Rangers Reserves 6 Worplesdon Phoenix 1
Goals: Thomas Watts (2), Sammy Bristow, Juan Canal-Marti, Oscar Day (2)
Man-of-the-match: Niall Richardson
Fortress Pyrford witnessed a commanding performance by the ressies, who brushed aside a strong Worplesdon side. It may well have been a very different story had the referee chosen to be a tad more proactive, however.
The old adage to get your late tackle in early is a wise one. But maybe not a throttling after man-of-the-match Niall and the opposition midfielder clashed after only twenty seconds of the match?! Showing remarkable restraint (well, I guess he was being ‘restrained’) Niall, ahem, held his breath while waiting for the referee to intervene. And he did, eventually – without even blowing his whistle – before giving each player a yellow.
Cards well and truly on the table the talk on the touchline was who would get sent off first. And then a remarkable thing happened. A football match broke out.
Perhaps the referee knew something we didn’t? But it wasn’t long before two very youthful sides went at each other with gusto. Of the two, it was the slightly more youthful ressies who dominated play. But while they played most of the match in the opposition’s half, the ressies defence looked slightly fragile in the early exchanges.
While the home side’s fragility ended there, it was a defensive wall as poorly put together as one of Chinga’s breeze block creations that presented Watto with an opportunity to repeat his feat of last week. And this he did, by simply slotting the ball past the wall into the bottom corner.
Matters got even better moments later after some solid midfield play found Lucas, who played a delightful early pass inside the full back for the speedy Sammy to run onto and slot home inside the far post. The ressies were comfy, but far from cruising, at this stage as the opposition looked like they always had a goal or two in them.
Niall was playing a blinder, but he couldn’t do much about a speculative shot from distance that had keeper Leighton in such a panic he fell on his arse when backpeddling into a more suitable position. While close, the ball flew over the bar. But it was a wake up call.
The supporters needn’t have worried, as Watto showed great skill, and strength that belies his deceptively unassuming appearance, when sandwiched between two players. Having held his ground, Watto then lifted the ball over the defenders before spanking the ball from the edge of the box and in off the bottom of the far post.
It was the ressies to lose from this point on, and the second half almost began in the same manner as the first with the referee having to give both Niall and his shadow (and both captains) a bit of a talking to. Ultimately, the Worplesdon management intervened and substituted their man.
Arguably, it proved a managerial masterstroke as they clawed a goal back soon after. And what a goal it was as a cleared corner was volleyed sweetly on the run from twenty-five yards. By the time the ball hit the back of the net it still hadn’t begun to dip even though Leighton did well to get a hand on it as it flew past.
Belief reinstated, the ressies might have struggled to weather the storm, as resolute defending was replicated in the opposition’s box from a corner providing Juan with an opportunity he calmly struck into the roof of the net. The game effectively ended as a contest, matters may have got even better after another slide-rule pass from Lucas set Watto free for his hat-trick. Sadly, his first touch let him down and the opportunity was lost, but Niall had other ideas despite the opposition’s collective efforts to extract a reaction out of him.
Zen-like Niall then demonstrated great skill and energy in taking the ball past two or three defenders before squaring to Nico. Nico might have fluffed his lines, but fellow substitute Oscar took all the plaudits having slotted the loose ball in from close range.
Having provided a number of excellent passes, Lucas was on the receiving end after an equally good cross from another substitute Dan Way. And yet, having eschewed the obvious header, his volley sailed over the bar. Any frustrations felt on the touchline being born of greed, they were soon satisfied by a sixth goal from debutant Oscar after Nico, once again, turned the accidental provider.
Although too young to celebrate his debut goals with a drink, the beers flowed for the rest of the club in the pub despite the rugby mob temporarily nicking our tables. Unlike those watching the egg chasers, the ressies are here to stay.