Harboro Town Vets 2 Lutterworth Vets 1
Local Derby Victory
HTFC Vets 2-1 Lutterworth
Saturday saw the return of the all conquering cup champions and with it came the back down to earth bump of league formalities. Given the importance of every remaining fixture, there was an all too casual atmosphere in the build up. Whilst the pitch looked at its fantastic best (the grass had been cut and the lines painted for the first time this season!), the trampoline like bounce of the concrete like under soil was not likely to deliver a flowing game of football.
We think Woj's arrival was actually him getting in from his 8 day post Man of the Match celebrations (sponsored by his dad). Others hadn't made it. Rod was at the salon to get his hair back up after letting it down, Scott had a cricked neck from looking down his nose at people for the week and Neil was still recovering from his one attempted overlap of the season in the final (too much Denny)! Oh yes and Adam Law made up that he had the shits as his wife wouldn't let him out 2 weeks running.
Therefore, the team lined up with Lardinho in nets, Nice Guy Ian, Shambles, Kris with a K and Chee across the back. Woj, Gaz, Stan (aka Engine Room) and Baz Robson in midfield, with Twinny and Chris (the one who can play football) up top. The bench was limited to Motters, Coops and a 25% fit Fletch (down from the usual 30%).
With the pre-match b******g / rousing speech delivered by the gaffer, we were off. Unfortunately not at Grand National pace, but thankfully the opposition looked rather limited. Positive signs early on were shown when huge gaps appeared in the opposition defence and Chris slotted Gaz through. The ball was slightly under hit, but more remarkably Hollywood opted not to shoot and pulled the ball across the box and the chance went begging. Next notable event was about 10mins in (which was the time I had in the Chee injury sweepstake), from a corner to Lutterworth. Chee ignored Lardy's call (that was only in Lardy's head). We thought the knee level punch by Lardy had caught Chee on the top of his head, but the damage was actually from Lardy landing on his ankle. Who would have thought that would hurt?! So Chee was escorted from the pitch with a flat leg that looked like rolled out pastry and Fletch entered the pitch after a 30 second warm up. Another 10 minutes later and Fletch's award winning (see Chump of the Week), cameo was over. Consisting of a missed open goal opportunity as a ball bobbled over his outstretched leg (= 1st hamstring tweak), followed by a demonstration of his enigmatic genius with a cross of beauty onto Twinny's head in the 6 yard box. Twinny managed to take all pace off the ball and head into the hands of the keeper. Lastly another costly air kick as the hammy that is as strong as a Stan tackle at St Patrick's went again. Fletch hobbled off with lots left to do for the other Chump of the Week contenders. On came 'The Motters'. You could see the look of delight on the opposition faces.
Showing that playing football actually pays, some cultured football on the floor led to a ball to Twinny for a simple finish that kept up his fine recent run of goal scoring form. It felt like it should have been the first of many, but the football was rarely replicated and such a lead is always precarious.
The theme for the rest of the half / game was a variety of air kick styles, frustrating refereeing, missed chances, elaborate Motters dives and Coops looking puzzled trying to work out why he was holding a flag. Kris provided a usual dose of comedy (apart from his touch / passing on a difficult pitch) with an Aled Jones inspired high pitched rant to the referee of "He...has....got....a....head......injury"(you had to be there).
It definitely reeked of a cup final hangover as we trudged off at half time with the lead in tact and the knowledge we could have been well clear. With no s**t silver paperweights to refer to, the Gaffer reverted to a b*******g around desire, work rate and half hearted tackling. Others contributed with the deep insight / tactical input of "this lot are s***e", leaving us armed and ready for a second half in the sunshine.
Lutterworth's main threat was a massive kick from their goalkeeper, which we fed with a number of overhit passes as we tried to capitalise on our dominance. Too much was played at 100mph, even though when we calmed down and played, it was far more productive. Then a deadlier threat appeared for the opposition, in the form of Andrew 'should have gone to Specsavers' Cooper not being able to see the other side of the pitch. With a 10 yard head start, their centre forward was thwarted one on one by Lardy, whose fat size 10's cleared the ball to their supposed 'Class of 92' forward. Time stood still (watching Lardy try to get off the floor), as a volley worthy of Beckham floated over Lardy and Shambles into the top of the net. After his one save above his head in the final, Lardy's record is now back at 98% of shots above his head going in this season.
Fletch took over flag duties. Thanks for your efforts Coops, we all appreciate them (especially Stan)!
It looked like the Lutterworth as bogey team tag would remain, with their efforts ably supported by a refereeing performance of incredible incompetence. Chris caused their old fashioned (i.e. How high can we kick the centre forward in the air) centre half no end of problems, which he countered with a headlock, tackles from behind and a blatant holding / undressing of Chris in the box. No referee could ignore that one, apart from our hapless man in black. Placid Chris used his pace to sprint at the ref with his best Victor Meldrew impression of "I don't believe it" and entered the book for his troubles. He was calmed down a few minutes later by a knee high 2 footed chop from their keeper as he tried to finish, that was again dismissed as tomfoolery and high jinks. Robbo's usual cool (chortle), was also broken as he provided some fruity feedback to the ref this time and joined Chris in the book (hope he remembered his instructions here!).
Thankfully we managed to put together a slick passing move in the frustrating circumstances, which fell to Stan in space on the edge of the box. The ball was smartly dispatched into the top left corner and our lead was restored. A Lutterworth midfielder gave the refs pencil some more work as he didn't show a Fletch throw in decision the same level of respect Fletch shows to linesmen. The final 10 minutes saw little threat from the visitors and some mixed time wasting attempts in the corner, before the relief of the referees whistle. Winning without playing well is the stuff of champions and that's exactly what we did. 3 games to go that could spell further glory. Let's hope we don't make such hard work of the remaining matches.
I'll let you try and guess who won Chump of the Week!