I consider myself to be a levelheaded man: slow to anger, calculating in situations and conscientious of others' opinions. Having recently been told of Richmond's notorious 12th man refereeing, I was skeptical. Seeing their abilities first hand this weekend however has changed this opinion somewhat.....
The match started with some excellent play on both sides of the pitch for Chiswick. The defense consisting of: James, Inesh, Pip and, the aptly named, Dave Sturdy withstanding the majority of the pressure from Richmond. Some excellent movement up the field by the mid's to the forwards meant the game wasn't one sided however. The first half ended a deserved 0 - 0.
After an inspiring half time team talk by deputy-captain Pip Turner outlining aggressive strategies like a battle commander with expert troops at his disposal. PHC went out on the attack. Tim instantly took on board Pip's talk and started the second half with vengeance on the mind! From the whistle, he powered forward into the heart of Richmond's defenses leaving naught but panic and fear through the Richmond lines. Supported by DY and Rupert, he pushed into the D with options available from Kam (on his PHC debut) and myself. Tim doesn't need support. Show him a goal, and he'll show the score sheet a goal.
He flicked from 10 yards, the ball flying into the top left corner. It was at this point that a Richmond player set the tone for the rest of the match, blocking the shot that was destined for the back of the net with his body. Miraculously, looking back on the majority of the decisions, we were awarded a P-flick. Of course Tim easily converted into the side netting making it 0 - 1, not 2 minutes into the second half.
Richmond, aided by the refs, came back hard on the attack and were unjustly rewarded (for the most part) with multiple free hits outside our D and several short corners. Sam pulled off some excellent saves keeping us level pegging with PHC defending well. Alas, eventually a player broke through and provided a back stick into the PHC goal: 1 - 1. A quick 2nd followed making it 2 - 1 to Richmond. A tough 15 minutes for PHC. Hopes a win were still high however with the mid's pushing hard to get the ball to the business end of the pitch.
<WARNING - DANGEROUS LEVELS OF SARCASM IMMINENT>
Rupert made the grave mistake of trying to attack Richmond's D, taking on 3 Richmond players and being bowled over in the process. This mistake did not go unpunished however, as not only did Richmond get a free hit but Rupert, well known for his thuggish antics on the pitch, was given a verbal warning.
Lightning, Goal Machine Carroll did not take kindly to this and attempted to add a further nickname: "Gobshite" Dave. Struggling to comprehend the baffling decisions of the refs throughout the duration of the match, finally seeing red, unleashed a maelstrom of obscenities for which he was called over and given a tongue-lashing - the words "get f***** ref" were uttered. Not his finest hour.
Furthermore Rupert was still under unjust scrutiny by the refs and was next given a green card for aggressive play when he was being tackled! PHC were down to 10 men.
Again being pushed hard in defence, Inesh was next to be targeted. After a series of committed tackles and blocks, stick tackles from Richmond and 2 dangerously lifted balled into his body, he was given a warning for presumably making it hard for them to score. The words "he puts himself in the way enough of the time what does he expect?", were heard from the mouth of the ref.
After a bit of argy-bargy a third goal was conceded 10 minutes from the end leaving PHC angry. Towards the dying minutes, a couple more chances materialised but nothing took root, leaving our opening score sheet 3 - 1.
A frustrating opening result for the start to our campaign but, with Richmond ending near the top of the league last year, lots of positives can be taken away from the match.
MoM: Inesh - "Unrelenting in defence"
DoD: Rupert - For getting a green card (pretty harsh voting...)