Real Tuesday 2 - 2 Scottish Parliament
This was very much a game of two halves, but not in the usual sense - we had four goals in the first half, and none in the second!
In what may be a record even for the Real, we made a number of lineup changes even before the game had started, the catalyst coming when Sheepy Mike asked to be benched to allow a pacier player to replace him at centre half. We weren't sure what he was on about, but put Craig there, anyway.
Darrell, initially due to play right back, moved to left wing, with Ted moving to partner Phil in central midfield (thus spawning a rather overdue pun: 'Phil And Ted's Excellent Midfield Adventure'). Dave replaced Darrell at right back.
The Real started the game brightly, with Jay latching onto a neat through ball from Phil. There was a hint of offside about the move, but Jay did the decent thing and let the keeper save his shot anyway (cough).
The Real went one down just a minute later. Here's how goalie Ross saw it:
'The first goal was the header. A free kick was hit along the edge of the 6 yard box, and Greg assumed I would come for it even though there was no call. The ball then went past two other defenders before being headed by the opposition at the back post, high and over the top of me and into the opposite top corner.'
A cock up between Ross and Greg, in other words!
Jay had another shot saved five minutes after that, then, barely a minute afterwards, we went two down. Here's Ross again:
'For the second goals, the opposition player was allowed to run to the by line on our left wing, then was tackled twice (I think) but somehow still had the ball. I closed the angle and he hit the shot and the ball hit me then hit Greg before entering our net.'
Another cock up between Ross and Greg, in other words!
Despite this awful start to the game, the Real continued to press forward, and won a penalty 20 minutes into the game. The spot kick was awarded when Jay was felled after we were awarded a corner; from the sidelines, it initially looked like referee Brian was going to book one of our players for something, then a howl of protest went up from the Parliamentarians as he pointed to the spot. Jay made no mistake with the kick, and we were back in the game.
We drew level shortly after that, some great interplay up the right wing between Jay and Andy setting Stu Falconer up to claim a goal on his Real debut with a sweet finish.
That concluded the action in the first half. Stu Falconer had to head off at the break, so Roddy trotted on to lead the line in the second half. Stu also replaced Jordan at right back, though Jordan did get a late (and no doubt welcome) run out up front late in the game after Jay went off with cramp.
The Parliament started the second half brightly, and Ross had to reach high to grab a lob that might otherwise have sneaked in under his crossbar. At the other end, Roddy's first touch of the game turned out to be a rocket shot that the Parly keeper did well to save.
It was pretty much one way traffic for the rest of the half, Phil coming close with a fine header on the 20 minute mark after more good work from Jay down the left wing.
Ross had to look lively late in the game as the Parliament's best player, number 7, broke into the box at speed with the ball at his feet. Ross, sensing a shot was about to be unleashed, slid out to clear the danger, upending the Parly player in the process. The number 7, to his credit, just got up, straightened his kneecaps, picked up his dislodged teeth and got on with the game without complaint.
Phil managed a decent shot from a corner in the final minutes of the game, but the ball was deflected wide.
The best - and final - chance of the half fell to Roddy, who managed to work himself into a one on one position with the Parly goal through sheer bloody persistence. Unfortunately, with the goal gaping, Roddy's subsequent shot turned out to be both weak and hit directly at the keeper. The game finished as a draw.
There was a strong feeling of disappointment in the Real camp afterwards, as this was very much a game we should have won. To counter that, the result still left us with two points more than we had after the corresponding fixture in our last Winter League campaign, while the fact that the Parliament went with one up top in the second half of this game possibly indicated that they were happy to play for the draw.
At the traditional post-match banquet at the Corstorphine Inn, various theories were aired to explain why we hadn't managed to secure the win that we deserved on the balance of play:
- Sheepy would have dealt with that header.