Match Report - 05 Jan 2013, Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI beat Old Cholms
This game has happened before y’know. Nearly seven years ago, since you ask. A team playing a positive 4-4-2 formation, gets absolutely ravaged by their oppositions deep forward who waltzes around in all the space he could ever want, goes into the break a deserved 3-0 down, changes shape to incorporate a defensive midfielder, swaps their small scrappy striker for a big target man, storms back to 3-3 after 90 minutes then goes on to win it.
Advance 7 years, swap Liverpool for OWFC and Milan for Cholmleans. Swap Kaka for that bald bloke and Baros/Cisse for Kiley/Irvine-Fortescue. Make everyone except Djimi Traore about 70% worse, and voila! The Miracle of Istanbul becomes the Doggers Farce. At least no one got to be Harry Kewell.
OWFC pitched up at Fortress (sic) Doggers with match squad that was rather heavy on attacking players and light on defensive ones. Skinner and Murray did the team thing and lined up one position back from where they’d really prefer, flanking Wakiwaka and Prichard at the back. In an ideal world, you’d face a top of the premier league side with more than one guy who’s first choice position is defence, but you have to work with what you have.
In a not entirely unusual development, OWFC fell behind after about 3 minutes. A post Christmas holiday back four had obviously not fully shaken all the cobwebs as OC’s right winger got the wrong side. Waki took the (with hindsight questionable) decision to simply fall into him, and OC’s aggressively ginger skipper sent Duncan the wrong way from the spot. Happy New Year.
Things soon went from bad to refuckulous. OW’s rigid 4-4-2 seemed unsuited to the opposition shape, with one of their strikers continuously roaming into the Number 10 area with neither centre backs nor centre mids seemingly able to get near him in open play. Merriot did his best to organise the marking effort with his trademarked mix of pointing and loud rhetorical questions, but the lack of certainty meant a continuous supply of dangerous through balls were causing the defence more difficulty than they could manage. Soon it was 2-0, OC’s working an overlap down their right before pulling back for their somewhat immobile but highly composed centre forward to beat Duncan from 10 yards.
Twenty minutes in, 2-0 down and frankly a bit lucky to be only that. Sutton and Kiley had barely been able to take part in the action at all, but offered a bit of hope that humiliation could be avoided when some neat link up play nearly put Sam Donald through down the left. But just when we looked like we might be able to get a grip on things, 2-0 became 3-0. This time a swift counter left Waki and Prich two on two with their forwards, who worked half a yard smartly enough for their big target man to again calmly side-foot past Duncan from 10 yards. And it nearly got worse, when a crisp volley was fortunately close enough to the keeper for him to get a leg in the way.
Kaptain Kiley did his best to remain stoic at half time, and displayed a degree of tactical acuity some had not previously suspected in him by switching to a 4-5-1 which went some way to nullifying their biggest threat. Merriot sat in, Masefield came into the midfield and Sutton and Donald flanked Kiley. Sutton, who we’d struggled to involve in the first half was suddenly seemingly everywhere, helping out defenders and strikers alike. I’d say that makes him Steven Gerrard in my earlier analogy if I didn’t think that would go excessively to his head. Regardless, he was now able to make an impression on the game, and he soon made a major one when he made it 3-1, Sam Donald’s pull back leaving him with a poacher’s finish at the back post.
Irvine-Fortescue immediately came on for Taro, and proceeded to win pretty much everything in the air giving OW’s a greater platform. OC’s rallied briefly, with a header from a set piece requiring a tip-over and Jamie Rann, on at left back for Skinner, clearing off the line after their winger had rounded Duncan. But the game’s most defining factor took around an hour to reveal itself. Given our almost total absence of attacking possession in the first period we never got the chance to test it, but OC’s inability to defend set pieces against a particularly tall OWFC line-up was about to change the game.
From a free kick, their big and noisy keeper decided to come and claim, but fumbled and tripped Marsh as he tried to swipe the loose ball clear. Like his opposite number, Mase send the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-2. Paddy Sutton’s long throws were now causing total panic in the OC’s 6 yard box, and it was from one of these that a simultaneous header from alliterative midfield chums Merriot and Marsh looped inside the far post. Improbably, it was 3-3.
Marsh nearly won the game with a brilliant and entirely typical run and long range cannonball that boomed off the inside of the post and then proved too hot for Donald to guide into the vacant net. OC’s nearly snatched it in inury time with a low drive to the corner from the edge of the box, but the slightly-greying youngster in the home goal fingertipped it away and Murray was first to the loose ball.
The outfield players groaned at the thought of another 30 minutes. As with the start of normal time, concentration was not immediate and OC’s were 4-3 up within a minute of the restart, a carbon copy of their second but with a different finisher. But this was a new OWFC, and soon the increasingly influential Donald was powering in a header from another corner to make it 4-4. After the turn around, OC’s had a goal disallowed for a pretty marginal offside call, but then Merriot put OW’s ahead for the first time. Yet another set piece, yet another powerful header that was too much for the keeper. A frantic final couple of minutes was neutralised when Sam Donald ran beyond what was left of the away defence and, at the second attempt, beautifully lifted the ball over the keeper’s not inconsiderable girth to make it game and first set to Winchester, 6-4. The final act of a frankly insane match.
Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI 6 - 4 Old Cholms ()