Real Tuesday 3 - 1 St Columba's
Despite the slightly troubled build up to this game, it turned out to be an excellent run out for the Real, giving us a chance to see some of the St Columba's Winter League players in action and allowing us to bed new centre half Greg Bissett into the team.
After scoring off the bench last time out, Mike Johnstone started this game up top with Jay, while the midfield consisted of Ted, Phil and Calder across the middle of the park and Craig sweeping behind them. The defence pretty much picked itself, Greg replacing the holidaying Sheepy at centre back and Dave Rolland slotting in at right back.
The Real pressed the game from the start, and were one up within 10 minutes. Jay beat several men as he jinked his way up the left touchline, then had the presence of mind to look up before firing the ball into the box. The end result was that the ball fell nicely at the feet of the onrushing Phil, who blasted it past the helpless keeper from close range.
Phil nearly doubled his tally ten minutes later, lobbing
the ball over both the St Columba's keeper and the blocking Jay; the
ball was, however, cleared off the line.
Calder then showed Phil how it should be done five
minutes later, cutting in from his wing at pace before drawing the keeper
and lobbing the ball into the far corner of the unguarded net. A lovely
St Columba's had seen very little of the ball so far, but still managed to score on one of their first meaningful forays into the Real half. After some dogged pressing, a misplaced clearance from Graeme dropped nicely for their striker, who blasted the ball past Ross into the top left hand corner of the net.
We finished the half on the attack, with Ted coming close with a couple of long range shots.
Overall, it had been one of the best 45 minutes of football we had produced in ages - some of the one touch passing, often with Phil as the fulcrum, was a delight to watch.
Tinkerman Bill was surprisingly restrained at half time, making just two changes. These involved Jordan replacing Craig in midfield and Fahd replacing Mikey up front. At Phil's suggestion, we moved to a more conventional 4 man midfield, with Jordan on the left and the more defensively minded Phil hanging back to provide the cover that Craig had previously brought to the team.
We rather fell out of the game in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with passes going astray and strikers (particularly Jay) getting caught offside thanks to the high line that the St Columba's defenders were maintaining.
Calder squandered a great opportunity after ten minutes, shooting into the side netting after Jay had surged into the box and squared the ball for him to tap in. Calder and Ted then fired shots over the bar after they found themselves in space around the penalty spot - were we ever going to get that third goal needed to close the game out?
We made our remaining changes with 10 minutes to go, Calder and Dave replacing Jay and Fahd up front, Biggsy slotting into the left side of midfield and Jim (just off a plane from Dubai, but not at all phased by the 27 degree temperature change) replacing Dave at right back.
The changes brought almost instant results, Dave running onto a through ball and blasting a lovely finish past the keeper.
There's only so much we can take from the result, in terms of our Winter League prospects, as it was obvious that the St Columba's side we played was very much a makeshift one - the lack of communication between their players was proof of that. They had some decent players, though, and - with the notable exception of player manager John - were all about 12 years old!
We'll need to be on our guard when the gloves come off for the league game on February 12th, but there's no reason why we can't record another win over the church team then. Amen to that!