words/pics: Garth O'Mara
After the excitement of last week’s excellent semi-final display it was back to regular business as the Vipers made the now familiar journey to Goldsworth Park to face the Stags in a double header league game.
A cunning ploy was foiled right at the start as it discovered at the line-up for kick-off that Coach Paul had sneaked a 10th player onto the field of play and Marco was swiftly removed – nice try Coach Paul!
The game had a steady start although this author proved why he is better at reporting than coaching when he screamed at George to use his hands and pick the ball up from a Jenko back pass – luckily George “The Cat” knows the rules of football better and proved that he has studied Law 12, Section 2 which states “The back-pass rule states that a goalkeeper is forbidden to handle the ball when passed to them by a team-mate”. Phew! Good for George.
The Vipers had a steady start and the opening exchanges were notable for Williams strong corners, a looping effort from Charlie, a great run from Jody, and dependable Jenko displaying his normal self-assurance in the centre of defence. It was clear from the start though Sebby was on it and in what was to be a feature throughout both games he played a lot of sensible balls with the masses within the traveling fan contingent in agreement that this was his best performance ever.
The Stags were in this and a very dangerous corner that was whipped was headed by Jenko who nearly score own goal of the year. The lads looked strong though. Fin was letting little past him, William was ferreting around creating a nuisance of himself and Cameron was dominating in midfield winning every 50/50 ball in his normal fearless manner that has become a feature of his game. Charlie was throwing his weight around also and was likened to a “bumper car” by some!
Marco and Cody came on and the momentum continued. Cody was playing in a more advanced position that normal and put Jody through who narrowly missed.
Notable in this part of the game was the tippy tappy football on the field and also off it – as the ball was played onto the left wing and Marco demonstrated all his Italian finesse with some lovely one touch ball control. Could we squeeze him into an under-12 shirt and get him on? Maybe not!
As the half (1st game) drew to a close George released the ball quickly in a route 1 attempt. Their keeper cleared but from midfield Charlie met it strongly with his head and it fell into the path of an advancing Jody. A beautiful cross field ball from Jody landed at the feet of Sam who buried it with aplomb leaving the Stags keeper no chance. A beautiful move, one to savor. A great team goal.
The half wasn’t completed, and Coach Paul asked the Vipers to see this out this however it was the Stags who finished the the stronger and it took a great reaction save from George to keep the score at 0-1. The ref blew for half-time and game one was concluded at 0-1 to the Vipers.
And then a rare event. Was it to be on the pitch? What possibly could be happening? It was Steve Smith. He offered a round of teas and coffees threatening a plague of mothballs as he went to pay :-) - only joking! Much appreciated Steve and Jeremy!
Back to the game. The half started strong. A rare corner delivered by Jody was beautifully placed and flashed across Charlies head and just wide. Charlie then went on a surging run, thundered a shot, off the underside of the crossbar, back down (did it cross the line?) bounced off the inside of the path but no goal line technology needed as Cody charged in a buried it into the back of the net. 0-1
Three minutes later Charlie was at it again, a speculative long shot, an unfortunate keeper mistake and it was 0-2. Muted celebration from the lads as they were respectful of the unfortunate keeper.
Two minutes later – a Charlie rocket. No doubt about that one - 0-3. Again, muted celebration. Discussion on the sidelines on whether he needed to get back on his X-Box, play FIFA 21 and re-learn some moves!
And then just three minutes later the debate on the first goal no longer mattered as Charlie score again to make it. 0-4 and complete his hat-trick. At this point he was taken off for a well- earned rest (and probably a rest for the terrorised Stags defence at this point).
It made little difference to be honest. Jody picked up again and provided another assist (he had had a few at this point) and delivered a beautiful cross to Cody who scored his second of the day in his new advanced position. 0-5
With the Vipers now completely in control every single player on the field were showing their confidence. Sam had been dependable throughout and delivered an excellent corner (every player seems to be able to take them today!), Cameron continued to dominate and Jenko had a lovely well-timed challenge.
The last word was left to Charlie though who right at the death and having returned to the field of play and thundered in his 4th to finish the second game 0-6.
Another clean sheet! Thirteen goals scored since we last conceded and most pleasing that every player on the pitch remained disciplined, stuck to the task in hand and played with the right temperament. Brilliant preparation for the final next week and a great confidence builder.
Wrap them in cotton wool folks – and try to get some sleep between now and next Saturday.
Player of the day went to Sebby – as previously noted he had had his best performance ever in that left back role – great work Sebby!
Final word goes to the goalscorers Charlie, Cody, Coach Paul and George “Poncherello”…..