Real Tuesday 6 - 1 Edinburgh Azzurri
The Real went top of Division Three after this convincing victory over new opponents the Edinburgh Azzurri.
The lead up to the game had been interesting, with Ted pulling out due to the knackered feet he sustained in the HotScots friendly, Sam away, Yass doubtful due to posterior issues and Phil remembering late on that he had a hot date at Prestonfield on the evening of the game.
On the plus side, the Real's answer to Carlos Tevez - Bad Boy Biggsy - announced that he was available, while Swanny agreed to join the squad once again.
The plot thickened on the evening of the game, with Sheepy announcing that he would be late due to work and Fahd not appearing until the game was underway. This meant we started with Craig at centre half alongside Greg, while fit-again Yass started rather than Fahd in central midfield.
Our first shot came from Calder after 5 minutes, the Azzurri keeper making the save. He was less fortunate shortly afterwards when Biggsy marked his return to the squad with a fine goal. Dave was the provider, tearing down the left wing before sending in a low cross that Biggsy converted clinically with his not-just-for-standing-on right peg.
Jay then headed over the top after a corner from the right, then the Azzurri keeper saved a header from Biggsy after a corner on the other side.
The Azzurri then mounted an attack of their own, but the final shot ended up in the wee goal at the railway end, as opposed to the big one.
Darrell tried his luck at the other end after 20 minutes, Jay laying the groundwork up the left hand side, but the shot was just wide.
The Azzurri equalised after 30 minutes, some slack tackling up our right hand side allowing them to construct a flowing move that ended with a low shot that went past Ross and into the bottom right corner of his goal.
It was around this point that Calder picked up a warning from Brian for a fairly agricultural challenge on the Azzurri left back. The pair of them niggled away for much of the half; Brian later admitted that the defender had 'previous' in this regard, so it was kind of inevitable that he and Angry Man would fall out at some point.
Undeterred by the Azzurri equaliser, we resumed our assault on their goal, more good work by Jay up the left leading to a shot from Dave that the Azzurri did well to block. We then went back in front on 35 minutes, Dave firing in a lovely corner kick from the right for Jay to head home.
Jay then doubled his tally shortly afterwards, firing in a shot that took a wicked deflection and looped over the Azzurri keeper.
Jim had our last (half) chance of the opening 45, sending in a lob from the half way line that only just sailed over the cross bar.
All of our waifs and strays had pitched up by half time, so we were able to ring the changes, Swanny replacing Jim at right back and Fahd replacing Calder on the right wing.
It didn't take long for the second half to burst into life, Ross punching the ball clear from a corner then making a decent follow-up save after we failed to clear the ball. Swanny then 'pulled his fanny' (© Jim Hardie) and had to come off, Jim reclaiming the right back berth.
We then took the game by the scruff of the neck, with Fahd, Jay and Dave playing some delightful stuff up the right hand side of midfield. They were all involved for our fourth goal, Jay threading a beautiful ball down the inside right channel for Fahd to run on to. Fahd then controlled the ball before firing a low cross across the face of goal; Biggsy dummied the shot before Dave appeared at the back stick to bullet the ball home. A fine goal.
Our fifth goal was pretty similar to the fourth, a pass from Jay finding Biggsy at the left edge of the box. He then laid the ball off to Dave, who blasted a low shot past the keeper.
Biggsy then tried his luck, sending in a lovely lob from the left that nearly sneaked in.
We made a further substitution on the 25 minute mark, Calder replacing an understandably tiring Yass in central midfield. Dave claimed his hat trick shortly afterwards, bulleting the ball under the keeper's body after a fine solo run.
Darrell - by this time sporting a bloody knee that big Graeme would be proud of - celebrated the goal with an attack of cramp of Wagnerian intensity. Sheepy, having acted as assistant manager in our last game at Forrester, turned physio this time around, twisting Darrell's leg around until the shrieking ('You're making it WORSE!') stopped. Yasser ended up replacing Darrell at centre mid.
Mike then threw off his Pulis-approved baseball cap in preparation for a run out at centre half, indicating that Bill should also get stripped. The portly pair duly waddled on with 20 minutes to go, after pointing out to Greg and Craig that they would be straight back on if we shipped two goals before the end of the game. No danger of that, though, as the replacement centre half partnership actually did very well, with Ross only being called upon to cover their arses (no mean feat, that) once by hacking the ball clear after a through ball to the edge of the area.
A convincing win, then, with everyone putting in a great shift. The defence didn't have a massive amount to do, bar remaining attentive throughout the game - though it should be pointed out that Jordan spent much of the second half camped on the edge of the Azzurri box in a desperate attempt to get on the score sheet! Both he and Jim covered their wings well, putting in some meaty challenges without being penalised.
Darrell was a revelation in the centre of the park, getting stuck in in a manner that fellow ginger Phil would have approved of. Yass was as athletic as ever, despite his dodgy bot-bot earlier in the week, while Biggsy put in a great 90 minute shift up the left flank despite his Kermit The Frog boots flapping as he ran. He and the management should fall out more often!
Dave's hat trick was richly reserved - he never stopped running all night - while Fahd tormented the Azzurri defence every time he got the ball. We were maybe guilty of overplaying things a bit towards the end of the game - there was a lot of 'to me'/'to you' stuff up the right touchline at one point - but it's still great to see the boys playing with such confidence and rapport.
As Bill was heading away from the changing rooms after the game, he told his Azzurri opposite number Marco that he would be in touch soon regarding a rematch. Marco gave a wry smile and asked that we give his team a few weeks to recover - if that doesn't tell you how far we have come since the PWC massacre back in November, nothing will!
Match photos here