Real Tuesday 7 - 3 Murrayfield Thistle
Figure 1: A brave little soldier
The Real made it four league wins out of four on 2nd March, but only after fighting back from a 2-0 deficit in the first half. One of those goals was possibly the most bizarre one we have ever conceded - if the last 11s game was dominated by The Fanny, then this one was dominated by The Balls.
Things began fairly innocuously. Jay pulled on his gunslinger gloves, Fahd had a gentle mump to The Management about starting on the bench again despite being 'special' and Sam had one his of trademark pre-match, on-pitch pees. Biggsy had, rather worryingly, been out on the piss for most of the previous 72 hours with his work, though, on the plus side, had a sexy new pair of Astro boots to break in.
The side was also pretty much up to full strength, with Sam, Phil and Ted all available again after missing the Azzurri game. This was just as well, as we were missing Craig (golf dinner), Swanny (PF), Yass (better offer) and Darrell (broken ribs c/o Azzurri) this time around. With Sam starting at left back, Jordan dropped to the bench, where he was joined by Fergus on his Real 11s debut. Sheepy moved the other way, starting alongside Greg at centre half.
The early exchanges were fairly cagey, Murrayfield winning the first corner then Phil nearly breaking through on goal shortly thereafter.
Then, ten minutes in, it happened. The two midfields were busy tussling over the ball when another ball sailed over the fence from the game on the adjoining pitch and landed maybe ten feet from the centre spot. The Real players, schooled by shouts of 'BALL ON!' at Saughton, pretty much downed tools and waited for Brian to call a halt to proceedings.
He didn't call a halt to proceedings, though - despite clearly thinking about doing so - and we could only watch in horror as the ball was rolled through to the useful Murrayfield number 10, who finished nicely to put his team one up.
We mumped at Brian for maybe five minutes, Fahd and Sheepy leading the charge, then the game resumed. 20 minutes into the half, Dave swung in a vicious free kick that Murrayfield goalie Kev did well to hold. Play then moved to the other end, where a decent shot forced Ross into a neat diving save to his right.
Five minutes later, we were two down, after failing to clear our lines from a corner. This allowed the visitors' 10 to waltz through some half-hearted tackles and blast the ball past Ross.
Fahd went on for Phil shortly thereafter after the Ginger One pulled up with a stitch. Murrayfield then came close to going further ahead, a corner on the far side producing a header that just sailed over the bar.
We pulled a goal back after 30 minutes, Jay doing what he does best - falling over - in the Murrayfield box after a defender looked at him in a threatening manner. Dave converted the spot kick well, goalie Kev standing stock still as the ball flew past him.
We then pulled level just before the interval, Dave finishing from close range after a throw in from Calder was hacked into the box and custodian Kev failed to gather the ball.
The usual crop of half time substitutes saw Fergus replacing Jim at right back, Phil returning to the pitch to replace Calder and Jordan replacing the understandably flagging Biggsy. We then shuffled things around so that the midfield three consisted of Sam, Phil and Fahd, with Jordan slotting in at left back.
The changes brought an immediate effect, Phil heading just over then Sam coming close with a shot. Ted also had a shot saved five minutes into the half.
At the other end, Ross nearly sold the jumpers after charging off his line to confront an onrushing attacker at the edge of his box; the striker came off best in the resulting challenge, but then shot wide with the goal gaping.
Sam and Fahd then had shots cleared off the line at the other end before we went 3-2 down thanks to another controversial goal. This came from a free kick in the middle of the park that resulted in the ball being played through to to the Murrayfield 10, standing in what we thought was a clear offside position. Brian was having none of it, though, and the striker coolly lobbed the ball over Ross to put his team ahead once more.
We weren't behind for long, though, Phil rising to head home another fine corner from Dave after 17 minutes. Three minutes later we were in the lead, Sam tapping in after good work from Fahd. Another minute after that and we were leading 5-3, Dave hammering the ball home after it was played smartly into the Murrayfield box.
Sam then did his bit to promoted the ongoing anatomy theme by bundling the ball into the net with his chest - 'in off the tits', as Calder so sweetly put it - after more good work from from our resurgent midfield.
One of the Murrayfield midfielders, perhaps frustrated at the major turnaround in the game, then earned a yellow card on the 30 minute mark, Brian producing an actual card for once (as opposed to sending the miscreant to the sidelines to cool off). The yellow card was shown to at least one other Murrayfield player before the end of the game.
Jay then saw a decent shot blocked before - who else? - Dave completed the scoring with another crisp finish. Calder replaced Jay for the last five minutes of what seemed to be another rather brief half - got to love that Latto timekeeping!
There was a curiously muted atmosphere in the Real camp afterwards, probably because we came so close to losing this one. Our heads never went down, though, with Phil looking a lot more like his old self after that rest in the first half and Ted putting in another fine shift in front of the defence.