New blood and old friends boost rampant Reds
PFFC 4 Deportivo 2
A few days ahead of this fixture, it looked as though we would have trouble getting out a full squad for this match, but manager Ally sent some cajoling emails from his Paris hotel room and in spite of Mario’s worries when we first assembled on Sunday morning, thirteen Philosophers appeared in good time. Of these, three were making a welcome and triumphant return to the club: Vito jetted in from Rome, Felix broke off from writing his dissertation for his osteopathy qualification and Clarkey made only his second appearance of the season, lured to South Park because of the close proximity of his new pad. Simon’s mate, Colm, made his debut as a lone striker and proved a constant threat to the Deportivo defence.
The Reds started skilfully and patiently, keeping possession for about fifty consecutive passes, all neat triangles and interchanges, and this set the pattern for the rest of the of the first half. This fluent passing game saw Clarkey in good form as he effortlessly glided past a clumsy Deportivo challenge, Rob cool and composed in possession, Will displaying tireless energy and Vito proving that he’d not lost any of his attacking flair. However, totally against the run of play, a long punt into the PFFC half and an unfortunate slip from the otherwise impeccable Ally allowed the striker a clear run on goal which was converted: 1-0. Philosophy remained unruffled in their approach and soon got their reward when Ally played a perfect pass out to Matt on the right who, in turn, knocked it forward to Colm who turned his man, steadied himself and blasted past the keeper to score a fine goal in an impressive debut: 1-1 at half time.
The PFFC half-time team talk was briefly hijacked by a roving Italian cook offering us sausage and other assorted barbecued meats at cheap prices after the game but the skipper implored us to remain focused and to continue what we’d started. The second half wasn’t going to prove straightforward for PFFC, as we struggled to maintain our slick passing game; we did, however, help ourselves by using a healthy system of substitute rotation, which saw Andy and the energetic Felix enter the fray. By now Deportivo were pressing much harder and the Reds were able to mount only sporadic attacks. The Philosophers were in dire need of inspiration, and this duly came from Simon mid-way through the second half. He picked up the ball outside the area, spotted the keeper off his line and curled the ball with the outside of his right boot into the top corner for his first ever PFFC goal, sparking jubilant scenes and giving the Thinkers the lead for the first time in the match: 2-1. The third arrived within minutes when Matt sprung the offside trap to give himself a clear run at goal in which he rounded the keeper and hit the target from a tight angle with the help of post and bar: 3-1.
Credit to Deportivo who at this point managed to find an extra gear to put the Red men under intense pressure for the next fifteen minutes. Kadeem made a string of important saves to help soak up this pressure, but couldn’t keep out a long-range effort from our opponents to bring them within one goal and make it a potentially nervous final ten minutes: 3-2. However, unlike so often in previous seasons, PFFC displayed resolve and killed the game off once and for all as the evergreen Andy (now playing as an emergency ‘number 10’ behind our lone striker in place of Colm who was, perhaps understandably, suffering from a bout of cramp) fizzed a drive past the despairing grope of the keeper to secure the points and a memorable win: 4-2.
An array of real ales of varying taste and aroma were consumed in celebration at the excellent pub, The White Horse, on Parsons Green. An honourable mention must go to the excellent Clarkey, who marked his return from the glittering slopes of Kitzbühel with an audacious attempt to short change our treasurer by 80p! In addition, we wish a quick recovery to James, who recently fractured his shoulder but who loyally attended the match and roared the Reds on to victory from the open terracing of South Park.
In true philosophical tradition, and echoing the quote by Bill Shankly which appears on some of our match-day shirts, we played a simple game, worked hard for each other, and the rewards were shared by everyone.
PFFC (3-4-2-1): Kadeem; Mario, Ally, Rob; Clarkey, Will, Simon, Owen; Matt, Vito; Colm.
Subs: Andy and Felix (who were rotated frequently with Owen, Vito, Clarkey and Colm throughout the match)