Real Tuesday 5 - Bay FC 2
Things were looking pretty bleak for the Real at half time in this game.
We were 2 nil down to a pretty handy Bay FC team that wasn't far removed from the one that had pumped us on Arran a fortnight before. One goal had come from a corner, the lack of a man on the back post allowing a Bay FC striker to plant a firm header beyond stand-in goalie Dave. The second goal came from a free kick which we hadn't managed to clear - a Bay FC defender then smacked a left foot daisy cutter that evaded all the legs in the box and trundled over the line.
We had managed one meaningful shot during the opening period, care of Adrian - the ball went out for a throw in. We had otherwise pumped long balls at lone striker Jay for much of the half; he had fought manfully to control the ball each time it came to him, but, with no one up supporting him, it was a thankless task.
We were also running out of players. Scott and Darrell had called off due to injury, forcing a prematch reshuffle of the squad (Sheepy to centre half, Calder to centre mid, Adrian to right wing). Phil had spent most of the half sitting in the dugout, necking water to try and stop himself throwing up after another night on the sauce. Left back Gary had knackered his hand while making a typically robust challenge.
And, worst of all, Bill had replaced Phil in the centre of midfield.
It was Graeme who sparked the turnaround. As he trudged off the Astro at half time, he helpfully suggested that we f*cking needed to revert to our f*cking traditional 4-4-f*cking-2 formation.
Bill, ever eager to take advice from someone who actually knows something about football, immediately called the change, with fresh-again Phil returning to the centre of midfield and Calder moving from there to partner Jay up front.
Gary, catching the resurrection vibe that Phil had initiated, declared himself fit to return to action. And, with Biggsy away to the changing rooms for a double chunder, we managed to borrow a player - Malcolm 'In The Middle' Pennycott - from the Bay so that Bill could reclaim his rightful place on the bench.
The game restarted, and it all began to go horribly right for the Real. We had the wind at our backs, and it started to look as though the Bay FC players had shot their collective bolt after all their hard work in the first half. Phil also began to look more like his old self, holding the ball up well and making clever short passes and flicks for Calder and Jay to run onto.
The Bay nearly scored soon after the restart when the smallest man on the park, wee Marty, soared like a terrier chasing a Frisbee to crash a lovely header off the Real crossbar - but, apart from that, the Real were very much on top.
15 minutes into the half, we clawed a goal back when good work from Phil allowed Jay to nod in a back post header from close range. We then drew level 2 minutes later when Calder embarked on one of his trademark solo runs, beating several Bay FC players before lashing a beautiful long range shot past startled Bay FC keeper Mark Nelson.
Another two minutes and we were in front, with Calder curving in a lovely corner from the right that evaded everyone in the box and crept in under the crossbar. He then stood at the corner flag, both arms raised above his head in triumph - if Bill had been paying attention, he could have taken a good photo of that.
Jay got on the scoresheet again 5 minutes later, latching onto a beautiful through ball from Phil then sliding the ball low past the keeper.
The Bay had the ball in the back of the Real net half an hour into the second period, but the ref disallowed it for offside.
Energised by this let off, the Real went on the attack once again, with Calder nearly scoring direct from another corner and Phil heading over the bar from close range.
Phil made amends for that miss not long before full time, dancing past the keeper in the box then finishing calmly to make the score 5-2 to the Real. He missed another sitter shortly after that, but we'll let him off after another midfield masterclass from the ginger George Best.
There were many other good performances in the Real ranks over the course of the game. Adrian ran himself to a standstill up the right wing, while Biggsy delivered some lovely balls from the left (both via crosses and via some rather useful long throws). Lee was a revelation at right back, remaining composed under pressure and never straying too far from his allotted area.
Dave actually didn't have a lot to do between the sticks apart from pick the ball out of the net twice, but commanded his area well and displayed a safe pair of hands whenever the ball came his way. He does, however, need to sign up for the 'Kicking For Keepers' course that was instigated by the Real training academy after the first game at Whiting Bay.
Mike and Graeme were as solid as ever at the back, Graeme bleeding for the cause once again and Mike threatening to shell the cars on Queensferry Road every time he decided the ball would be better off at the other end of the pitch. And Jim, inspired by the 'sash' pattern Gers top he had pulled out of the kit bag before the game, put in a rock steady performance in front of the defence, tackling hard but fair and helping to shackle the Bay FC striker (Sam) who'd put three past us in the first game.
Malcolm also turned out to be a very useful acquisition, beefing up the midfield area that we had largely abandoned to the tangerine hordes during the first half. Moves are already afoot to make his loan signing a permanent one for the Real - watch this space.
We also saw the first evidence of the Real's youth policy in action, with local lad Kieran Spiers enjoying a run out that lasted an impressive 3 seconds before the final whistle sounded. Definitely one to watch in future (in case he nicks your car keys).