Real Tuesday 4 - 2 Baarcelona
Friday the 13th saw the return of Real Tuesday to their spiritual home - the Stadium of Really Quite Dark, Saughton - for the rematch against Mike Boyle's Baarcelona.
In keeping with our rotation policy, the gaffer Jose McNienho made a number of changes, opting for players with greater experience of the Saughton surface rather than employing the youthful Irish vigour seen in the previous match between the sides. Or, alternatively, giving the slow, old boys a run out because the students had better things to do on a Friday evening.
A further change saw the Real adopt navy blue shorts, which gave the side an appearance reminiscent of the great Double winning Spurs team of the 1960s. A resemblance heightened not just by the silky football displayed by the Real but also because most of the side were old enough to remember when Spurs were a good team.
As has become customary, Real piled forward to put pressure on the opposition goal from the first whistle, but, as has also become customary, it looked as though the Gods were on the side of the Baarca defence as chance after chance went begging for the home team. Then, somewhat against the run of play, Baarcelona took the lead. After a sequence of lucky corners, a swinging hoof from the darkness on the edge of the box sent a cross cum shot past James 'Paddy' Bonner. The defence looked suitably sheepish as the Baa-rca players flocked around the scorer in incredulous celebration.
Undaunted, the Real team spirit barely faltered as the boys in white continued to press forward, searching for the equaliser that their attacking play deserved. Inspired by a bout of sumo wrestling between the opposing midfield enforcers, Dickson and Boyle, the Real again pushed forward, and Ryan 'Bucko' McCaul surged into the Baarcelona box before skillfully using his kneecap to slide the ball past the keeper and into the net - or what would have been the net, had the net not been stolen by passing locals. Not content with one goal, the fluid Real offence swarmed forward, their position-swapping and crisp interchanges drawing comparisons with the great Dutch Total Football sides of the '70s. And, when that didn't work, we fired long balls for Zyco to chase.
There then followed a series of the-by-now-traditional misses and open goal chances spurned - particularly by the usually deadly Lennox, who blazed over with an empty net in front of him. The Bearded Assassin soon made amends, however, latching onto a through ball into the box and then calmly waiting for the Baarca keeper to go to ground before deftly lifting the ball over the sprawling custodian. Almost immediately afterwards, the Real should have further extended their lead when a penalty was awarded for handball. Craig 'Zyco' Stewart grabbed the ball, however, and refused to relinquish it to the regular penalty taker. Unfortunately the tall striker's composure did not match his desire, and he fired wide of the left hand upright.
The rest of the half continued with more of the same one-way traffic. The Real midfield hassled the Baarcelona players out of any rhythm and the defence despatched any danger with aplomb. Finally (and inevitably, given the number of corners, free kicks and chances created by the Real) the third goal was slotted away, and it was one to grace any match. A long ball up to Lennox was skillfully chested into the path of the rampaging Bucko on the left wing. Drawing his man, Bucko played the ball back to Lennox, who, spinning away from his marker, spotted the run by his strike partner Zyco and clipped an inch-perfect pass into his path. This time the shaven headed striker made no mistake as he coolly chipped the advancing keeper. 3-1 to the Real, and a deserved lead as the half-time interval approached
Half-time saw the manager ring the changes in order to freshen up the mix. Still smarting from an earlier handbags session with Zyco, McNie decided to pull himself off - which, at least, put a smile back on his face, and must make a nice change from half an orange. The gaffer was replaced at right back by the doughty figure of John 'Shark Bite' Lawson, who made his customary entrance to stuff up the right side of the defence, and on the wing the flying Adriano was spelled by Irish triallist Gareth.
The early part of the second half saw more of the same, with a familiar procession of missed chances and unconverted opportunities as the Real proved unable to get the goal that would put the game to bed.
Gradually Baarcelona managed to achieve some pressure and create chances, forcing James into action for the first time in the evening. With fifteen minutes to go, the ref harshly awarded a penalty for the Real keeper's (Harald - not Michael) Schumacher-style challenge on a Baarca forward. While medical treatment was summoned for the stricken attacker, observers were left to wonder at the lack of consistency in the protection given to the two keepers.
The Real fighting spirit swiftly resurrected itself, however,
and Zyco charged down the right and into the Baarca box before unleashing
a piledriver of a shot that went straight through the keeper and effectively
sealed the victory for Real. Late changes saw Chalky White taken off
and the reappearance of Adriano as the team in white ran down the clock
for a deserved and, ultimately, comfortable victory.