Reds break out in stormy conditions
Inter Sutton 1 PFFC 3
Wormwood Scrubs has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for PFFC of late. It is the site of last season’s lowest point, a 4-0 defeat inflicted by Deportivo when we managed to field a squad of only nine players; and this season, we wilted in the October heat against Quinine in the cup. The changing rooms are medieval, the showers have almost invariably run out of hot water by full-time or simply don’t work, and in December the changing rooms were locked and bolted altogether – no admittance! To add insult to injury even our post-match pub of choice, The North Pole, has been shut down.
So it was with trepidation that arguably the strongest PFFC squad assembled this season gathered at the windswept Scrubs under the unnerving shadow of that famous Victorian prison. We needn’t have worried. The mighty Reds used the advantage of both the slope and ferocious gusts of wind to full effect as we mounted wave upon wave of sustained attack. It wasn’t always the prettiest football to watch, as the conditions played havoc with our normal fluid passing game. Passes were frequently over-hit or at least made to look over-hit because of the squall. Considerable time was spent retrieving the ball from neighbouring pitches when we won our numerous throw-ins and corners.
Mid-way through the first half our pressure told as Damo started a cultured passing movement deep in our own half. After eight or nine passes down the right flank, Andrea picked up the ball 35 yards from goal and skipped and hurdled past a few desperate lunges before laying off the ball to Matt near the penalty spot. Matt carefully took aim and sent the ball fizzing accurately into the top right-hand corner of the goal: 1-0. However, with half-time fast approaching Lawrence was harshly penalised for handball just outside our penalty area. The resultant free kick was swung in to the back post and neatly finished into the top corner from an acute angle to bring Inter Sutton level.
The Philosophers now literally faced an uphill struggle against the wind. It required all the fortitude, experience and guile of our back four to keep Inter Sutton at bay in the opening ten minutes of the second half. In previous seasons we may have buckled under the sheer pressure of attacks but we had a determination to hold on in this game. Soon after the first of these onslaughts from Sutton, a quicksilver breakaway led to Matt being cynically chopped down inside the opposition area for what appeared to be a clear penalty. The referee, however, thought otherwise and merrily waved ‘play-on’. Matt was soon rewarded for his tenacity, though, as he floated the ball over the keeper’s head from 25 yards to restore PFFC's lead: 2-1.
Now the balance of the game was tipping towards the Thinkers as Inter started to tire and the wave of attacks now came from the Reds. Lawrence, Angel and Henry all had good efforts on goal thwarted by Sutton’s goalkeeper. Simon was creating many of these chances with his incisive passing from midfield. The goal that sealed victory came from a corner which was flicked on at the front post to Matt inside the six-yard box, enabling him to blast home and complete a well deserved hat-trick and remind us all why he recently picked up the Tisdale Trophy as Player of the Season.
A very encouraging performance in extremely difficult conditions means that Philosophy Football FC could still attain a Champions League place in the table. More of the same grit and determination will be required in the months ahead.
PFFC (4-4-1-1): Kadeem; Will, Damo, Andrea, Owen (Michele 45’); Lawrence (Rob 45’), Simon, Ally, Henry; Matt; James (Angel 45’).