Real Tuesday 4 - 5 St Columba's
As the old saying goes, you can only p*ss with the cock you are born with. And that's exactly the reason why, despite the scoreline in this important game, we shouldn't be too despondent.
This was our final Winter League group game, from which we needed to take at least a point to guarantee automatic entry to the knockout stages of the tournament. If we failed to get that point, then St Columba's could feasibly beat us to second place in the league, as they had games to play against PWC and Murrayfield. If we finished third, then we would have to play off against the third placed team in the league above us to see who made it into the knockout stages. No pressure, then!
We were also missing pretty much an entire team for this game, which came just three days after our narrow loss to PWC. Fahd had done his ankle on the recent tour to Arran, while the PWC game had left Phil and wee Dave out with injuries. Ross was at a Derren Brown show, Jim was in Australia, big Graeme was in London, Matty was hiking in the Pentlands for St Columba's, Biggsy had spat the dummy, Ted had gone AWOL and Craig was on a works night out.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Sam and Fergus both called off on the afternoon of the game. It was looking increasingly likely that we would be unable to fulfill the fixture, for possibly the first time ever in the long history of the Real.
Bill refused to throw in the towel, though, and managed to rope in Waif and Woody from his Wednesday 5s game. Craig also agreed to nip back from his night out, play the game, then head back into town to resume his drinking. It had been a slog, but we had a team!
Jay and Calder (slightly crocked post PWC) led the line, while the midfield consisted of Waif, Yasser (also carrying an injury), Craig and Mike J. Jordan replaced Sam at left back, Greg and Sheepy covered central defence, Woody slotted in at right back and Martin pulled on the goalie gloves in Ross's absence. Bill and Dave Murray warmed the bench.
The boys took to the Forrester Astro in our unfamiliar change strip (AKA dark tops and dark shorts).
We were one nil down within 7 minutes, a looping cross cum shot from way out on the far touchline arcing over Martin's head and into the far corner of the net. We then hit the cross bar seven minutes after that after Calder swung a dangerous corner in from the left hand side. St Columba's nearly doubled their lead a minute after that, a fine ball into the box leaving Martin stranded in No Man's Land as he sprinted off his line; the goal was gaping, but luckily the subsequent shot went wide.
We weren't so lucky on the 25 minute mark, a long shot from the right hand side of the goal squirming under Martin's body to make it 2-0 to St Columba's.
It was already becoming apparent that St Columba's had strengthened since we last played them, the fact that their star midfielder spent the early part of the game asking his team mates their names suggesting that he, at least, was a relatively new member of the congregation.
We didn't let our heads go down, though, and pulled a
goal back before half time. A long punt from defence set Jay and Calder
haring up the pitch after the ball, which Jay then neatly lobbed over
the stranded keeper's head into the net. There was maybe a hint of offside
about the move, but we weren't complaining!
The last chance of the half also fell to the Real,. a strike by Craig from the edge of the box forcing the Columba's keeper to make a decent save - though, if Craig had taken a moment longer to pick his spot, it would likely have been a goal.
We had tweaked the formation slightly during the course of the half, Waif moving to left back and Jordan moving to left wing. This was intended to give Jordan a bit more room to roam, while Waif could provide some solidity at the back.
There were no changes to the lineup at the break, as the feeling was very much that, if we could stop conceding soft goals, we could still turn this one around.
St Columba's had other ideas, however, and it took a superb goal line block from Greg to stop them from increasing their lead not long after the restart.
One minute later, and we were level after Yasser ran onto a long hoof up the park from Waif. Yasser's first shot was saved, but he was able to tap home the rebound.
We only managed to keep on level terms for 10 minutes, St Columba's retaking the lead after what looked like a short passback left Martin stranded. The ball was duly tapped into our empty net, our defenders arriving just to late to clear the danger.
In what was becoming an increasingly frantic match, we equalised almost straight from the restart, Sheepy launching a long ball for Jay to run onto. He did just that, volleying a fine shot past the keeper and in at the back post.
St Columba's then showed that they also knew how to score straight from a restart, their lanky blond midfielder waltzing through most of our central players before looping a superb shot high into the right hand corner of the net, despite Martin's despairing dive. That made it 4-3 to St Columba's.
Yasser came close to equalising only a few minutes later, a deflection taking his goalbound shot onto the post, but we then went further behind thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Dave (on for Woody at right back). Dave seemed to have all the time in the world to clear the ball as it rolled to him at our back stick, but, unfortunately, his leg had other ideas, delicately tapping the ball over the line to make the score 5-3 to the visitors.
We weren't done yet, though, and Jordan capped a fine performance with a fine goal, bursting down the left hand touchline before smashing the ball home from a tight angle. That made it 5-4 to St Columba's, with maybe 20 minutes left to play.
St Columba's shot narrowly over the bar a couple of minutes after Jordan's goal, but the last two chances of the game fell to the Real. Jay actually had the ball in the net on the 75 minute mark, heading home after Sheepy swung in a fine free kick, but referee Brian made a rare offside call and chalked it off. Further Real pressure just before the final whistle sent Yasser in on goal, but he was just unable to finish after the ball got stuck under his feet.