Match Report - 13 Oct 2012, Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI lost to Old King's Scholars
As the cliche goes, the only football stat that really matters is the score. OWFC dominated their encounter with King's Scholars pretty much throughout, but missed chances and a scrappy goal on the counter meant that we left Harlington like the salad bar at Pizza Hut: damp and pointless.
After last week's excellent showing, OW's were so focused in the dressing room that coherent speech had to take a back seat. "Waki, I love your punctuation today", The Mule malaprop'd as the frequently late defensive stalwart arrived. This, along with a first run-out of the season for Ed Marsh, could surely only augur well.
OW's started the stronger, and within a few minutes the returning Skinner was charging at and beyond their rightback, where his pullback was driven against the post by Bailey from the edge of the box. The first half continued in the same manner, with a narrow Kings' side looking vulnerable to Skinner and Marsh's runs from out wide, both gamely supported by their fullbacks. Another good chance came when Waki ignored his naturally destructive instincts and curled in a Beckham-esque ball from a deep position. Masefield's clever run met it, but his glancing header flashed just wide of the far post from twelve yards. Meanwhile most of Kings' threat came from set-pieces; their tall and agile centre back is perhaps the only person in the league capable of taking on Baker and Mercer aerially and winning his fair share. A couple of his flick-ons landed dangerously in OW's six yard box before being scrambled clear. But a tense half ended without either keeper being forced into anything too athletic.
Captain Prichard gathered his troops and made his first substitution, with The Mule replacing Anchorman Pusey. SenMan Baker delivered his nuanced view of our ideal second half tactical approach, namely "let's just fucking get into them and score a goal. And then another goal. And then another goal". Awestruck younger team members assimilated the sharp insight of this modern day Scipio Arficanus. The ref made his first good decision of the afternoon and tried to leave, only to be pulled back by the opposition captain.
On the subject of which, the ref really does need his own paragraph. His performance (or lack thereof), while it showed no bias or favour to either side, was extraordinary to say the least. Every time the ball left the pitch, a sharp, valedictory peep of the whistle followed which was as irritating as it was unnecessary. As someone wryly observed "it's like he's only ever experienced football by playing Fifa". Fouls meanwhile were almost universally ignored, and a late request as to how much time remained was greeted with a dismissive shake of the head. Does he speak English? Does he speak at all? We shall never know.
As the second half began with the sun still shining, a feeling gnawed that having failed to capitalise on excellent chances, maybe this wasn't our day. A sense of foreboding hung in the air. God, who presumably went to film school, decided to crank up the lazy symbolism with dark clouds and a biblical hailstorm. All a bit much I thought: more Bay than Kubrick. But despite this crude mood-setting, OW's continued to create the better chances. Skinner got in behind his full back again in the first few minutes of the half, and only a cynical deliberate handball by the outrushing Kings' goalkeeper came between him and the gaping net. In character, the ref decided that a talking-to was not necessary, and we can only assume he doesn't own cards. As Masefield's free kick arced just wide of the near post from the edge of the box, the feeling of injustice was palpable.
More chances came OW's way but Kings' increasingly impressive keeper had an answer for everything. Skinner was involved in much of it, his long run from left back to right wing eventually denied by a sharp stop to the keeper's right, and a curling shot which skidded on the now greasy turf was not just stopped but held. Repeated corners threatened but ultimately came to nothing.
You can see where this going can't you? Inevitably, with 15 minutes remaining, disaster struck. Their lone striker, who had been predominantly a spectator in the second half, got in behind the right side of the defence, and pulled the ball back to the arriving winger on the far post. While his connection was a little scrappy, the placement was perfect, glancing the post on it's way to the netting. It was pretty much the first time Duncan had been required to get mud on his love handles, but it was 1-0 all the same.
The last period was an intense but ultimately fruitless siege of Kings' penalty area. At least a dozen corners were repelled, Bailey hit the post for a second time, and the keeper produced a brilliant save to pluck Mase's improvised toe-poke finish out of the top corner. The majority of the last five minutes had all twenty-two players within thirty yards of King's goal. Unlike my massages, there was to be no happy ending.
Old King's Scholars 1 - 0 Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI ()