Not that Chiswick played badly against the table-topping side. In fact for the first five/ten minutes we were all over them like a cheap suit, capping our adventurous play in the beautiful spring sunshine with a finely taken goal by Will, with Emile assisting, to go 1-up, much to our surprise and their annoyance.
Our inspirational captain and legal ‘hottie’ Rupert was away, leaving Tom to step ably into his shoes. From his usual left back position Tom marshaled our team like Napoleon at Austerlitz with Ben, Lego and Stiller making up the rest of the back line, in front of Sam between the sticks.
Emile, Emrys, Will and the evergreen Nick Woon made up our midfield, with Tom boldly asking Nick to play in an attacking centre half role and fronting up the press. Tim, Rory and DY provided our attacking force, joined periodically by utility player extraordinaire Blobby, who had stints up front, in midfield and at the back.
We basked in the glory of a 1-0 lead for, erm, about seven minutes, before Royals struck back via an own goal from Will, the first of two own goals from him in the match. For the rest of the half, the opposition scored at a regular rate, leaving us 4-1 behind at half time.
There were a few questionable decisions from the umpire at our goal end, including blowing up Lego for having the temerity to stand up straight after missing a tackle, but we couldn’t make too many excuses. We were up against a slick, fit and capable team.
We did have some good moments, especially when we got the ball out wide and relied on the pace of Emile, Rory and DY, but often we were rushed into passing the ball too quickly, and we left too much space at the back.
The half time team talk was superbly delivered by Bex our guest coach, and as a result we tightened up considerably in the second half, creating a much more even game. We tackled hard – a bit too hard by Emrys – who got greened for his exotic use of the stick, but as is usual with this side, we didn’t give up. Sam Hext saved a tracer bullet shot – a superb and instinctive piece of goalkeeping, and Royals failed to convert their short corners thanks to some really gutsy defence from our goalie and the defenders.
Our passing was causing us problems, however, especially from Chris “my distribution is shit,” Smith. Our chairman is usually the Stevie G of the team, putting balls on a sixpence, but perhaps he was looking forward too much to pulling on a soft cotton dressing gown and chowing down on a quinoa salad, as he and Bex took a well-earned spa break this past weekend.
Chiswick conceded just two more goals in a much better second half for Chiswick 4s, and we had a couple of chances of our own, especially at short corners, but on 70 minutes, Will, having sprinted like a dervish back from the half way line to tackle his man, fell badly and dislocated his knee cap.
It was an agonizing injury, grisly to look at, and even Emrys – the hardest man on the planet - looked a bit green about the gills. It was hugely fortunate that the Royals goalie was a medic, and his quick thinking saved Will from further pain, as he deftly put the kneecap back where it should be. An ambulance was called, the match abandoned and it was with some relief that the team trooped down to the pub for a well-earned beer.
MoM: Ben - Solid all round play at the back
DoD: Stiller - Calling himself out for poor distribution on the pitch
Honourable mention: Jimbo, for cheering us on from the touchline, and the best of luck for his forthcoming course at Sandhurst.