|As the teams gathered in the sunshine outside
Coach Lane Sports Hall, there was a definite morning-after malaise. Mutual
consent delayed the kick-off to allow the straggling late night revellers
to pull themselves together. As special mention of thanks to Dave Robson,
perennial Reunion Match referee and friend of the club, for selflessly
accepting the late start to the match, officiating with good humour and
above all making all the right decisions (except ruling out Pollard's
superb nutmeg finish when put through in the second half, and denying
him a deserved hat-trick)!
Garnett Select XI were elected by the Old Boys to play
into the sun, a stiff breeze and up the wickedly sloping Astroturf.
They started purposefully enough, no doubt needled by not having the
opportunity for the pre-match team photo that the Old Boys had. But
the toll of the night before, led to the ball being given away more
than it should have been by an array of such quality players. The Old
Boys found some good possession in their opponents half, the midfield
pairing of Millar and Brown looked up for the occasion. Powlett could
be heard screaming for the ball from right back, and was doing his best
to work the ball down their right wing. Sherwood and Dadey were pushing
onto the Select XI's back four and Blogg's long throws were reaping
rewards. One of them found Crammond (right-wing, not on a goalkeeping
walkabout) clear down the flank, but the pacey Brough mopped up the
danger. Another airborne missile from Blogg was flicked on to Brown
in the area who was unlucky only find the crossbar on the volley. More
Old Boy pressure saw the ball worked from Dadey and Burns to Millar
whose low drive clipped Zengler's right hand post. But the Old Boys
were getting caught on the break, with Hopkins and Pollard getting in
some promising positions, their intelligence and movement being a feature
of the play - if their finishing had matched their approach work, the
game could have been over by half-time.
The Select XI begun to find joy right across the midfield, Holmes and
Cavanagh orchestrating attacks well. Old hands Robins and Leandro for
the most part stifled the best chances, until an arrowed clearance by
Miller under pressure on the touchline at left back, sailed over everyone
to Hopkins who was on it in a flash and bearing down on goal. He cut
inside but was unable to finish, as the excellent Charlesworth narrowed
the angles. The Select XI were not to be denied however, when a fine
through ball from Holmes, picked out an enterprising run from Centre
Half Brough who beat the offside trap, and showed fine composure to
round Charlesworth and slot home.
The artificial zip of the surface was contributing to the ebb and flow,
fooling players on several occasions, none more so than Zengler in goal
who misjudged the spin of the ball from a Dadey miss-hit, palming the
ball perilously past the post. Sherwood was doing his utmost to find
space to turn and shoot but the close attentions of Powers stifled him
for the most part. Burns rolled on for the roly-poly Powlett and looked
a more attacking option, but he and Crammond were frustrated in their
right wing attacks. Robins made a notable burst from defence past Almond
but efficient sweeping by Zengler, prevented him doing no more than
flattening the keeper on the by-line as the German cleared the ball.
As the half wore on Almond and Miller found time to push down the flanks
for the Select XI, both getting crosses in and the later having a speculative
effort past Charlesworth's left upright. The Select XI had some near
misses from corners but the half ended with only one goal in it.
The start second half meant conditions were now in the
Select XI's favour, pinging the passes about without the sun in their
eyes. Deeble's pace was an asset down the left wing and good service
from the midfield linked up to the ever-dangerous forwards well.
The Select XI's progressive play forced more pressure and from a period
of pinball in the Old Boys box, Hopkins tried to control and shoot,
Leandro only did enough to steer the ball into Pollard's path who clinically
drilled it past the helpless Charlesworth from 12 yards, much to his
and his strike partner's obvious delight.
The old boys regrouped however, and forced their way back into the game.
Blogg and Brown once again linked up well and after the Select XI defence
was dragged in to mark Sherwood and Millar, Dadey broke down the Old
Boys Right wing he continued the by-line and hit a ball powerfully across
the pitch. The ball somehow bisected the face of the goal and Zengler,
diving out in anticipation of a cross, in the end going out harmlessly
on the far side. A crossed ball into a crowded penalty area was met
by Zengler's fist propelling it straight onto Sherwood's nose. Stunned
by the impact Sherwood was unable to react to loose ball for a simple
tap in, the danger was cleared and Sherwood was left bloodied and disappointed.
The influence of Leandro from the Old Boys defence in regaining moment
was not to be denied. Good movement from Brown, Millar, Blogg and Dadey
engineered possession in the Select XI's half of the pitch, forcing
some determined defending. Sherwood was threatening turns with his back
to goal on several occasions, and one such turn got the Old Boys off
the mark. With his marker tight behind him just inside the box he controlled
the pass from Dadey letting the ball bounce to left at waist height
he smashed it past Zengler for 2-1. Powlett's joy was evident as made
the long journey to celebrate from his newly found decoy role at left
It was a false dawn, however, and the Select XI steadfastly stuck to
their game plan of possession and good passing. First Deeble broke down
the left, but he took one too many touches and the chance was lost,
then Pollard was in with a chance but he mis-cued at the vital moment.
Pollard, then found himself played through by Cavanagh, and he took
his time before sliding the finish through Charlesworth's legs, however,
the offside flag denied him his second. Cavanagh and Holmes played the
roaming Miller in with good shooting chances, but on both occasions
Robins close attention put the goal-shy veteran off his aim.
In the end a corner was forced and Cusworth's delivery to the near post
got the slightest of touches from Pollards stooping head and Miller's
side foot half volley was strong enough to go in off Charleworth's outstretched
hand. There was a brief madly jubilant celebration and the game restarted.
More composed and accurate passing from Cavanagh presented Hopkins with
a one on one at the far end, but Charlesworth again saved his shot with
the surprisingly advanced Miller waiting for a square ball and tap in.
Following an uncharacteristic mix up between Miller (back in defence!)
and Brough the ball broke clear to Millar behind the Select XI's defence,
but the over-eager Sherwood took possession from him in an offside position.
Legs were tiring on the Old Boys team as the more match fit Select XI
made them chase the ball in neat passages of passing. Millar gave a
ball for Powlett to run on to but even his pace had been sapped by the
afternoon's action. Select XI's fourth and final goal came about down
the right. Powers (Man of Match) , who had had a tremendous afternoon
in shackling the threat of Sherwood, pushed forwarded playing it to
Cusworth who found Holmes, who released Powers continued run down the
right touchline. With typical energy he pressed onward and crossed low
to the waiting Pollard who calmly slotted the ball into the middle of
the net, side-footed.
That finished the afternoon's scoring, and all in all it was a deserved
victory against a notably spirited and enterprising Old Boy team. Played
in a sporting manner that befitted the occasion and with a deal of humour
thrown in for good measure, long may the tradition continue.
Garnett Select XI:
J.Zengler, J.Almond, P.Miller 1, B.Holmes, T.Brough 1, A.Powers MOM,
R.Cusworth, S.Cavanagh, G.Hopkins, M.Pollard 2, M.Deeble.
Garnett Old Boys:
E.Charlesworth, N.Blogg, R.Brown, P.Leandro, A.Robbins, Burns, M.Dadey,
A.Millar MOM, D.Sherwood 1, P.Powlett, M.Robson, M.Crammond