Vipers vs Charlwood 1st (words and photos Garth O'Mara)
Thanks to Vinny “the enforcer” who stepped up to volunteer as ref and Marco for his diligent lino duties (as linesman and marking the pitch).
After a decent warm up Charlwood unveiled their usual Brazilian-esque Yellow, Blue and White kit which we have come to learn is befitting of some of their players. Everyone was ready for game time!
The game started at a furious pace, in front of an ear bursting rousing crowd who maintained their high volume (in a friendly, positive manner) throughout the game. The first real chance fell to William who slammed the outside of the post after Jody had put him through. However, it was good linkage play between the familiar #19 and #10 pairing of Charlwood that caught out the sleepy Vipers defence and created the first goal early on. 0-1 Charlwood. Was this to be a mauling was the concern pitch side?
The Vipers found their footing and the game was a lot better poised. The boys had a couple of chances – the most notable being a nice through ball from Raff resulting in Jody chipping agonisingly wide but whilst the defence looked more settled Charlwood continued to be dangerous. The defences were on top on this stage – Harry J controlled, Sam tracking well to push players out of position and at the other end Jody marshalled by a strong central defender.
Cam marshalled the midfield with strength all game but at this point showed his lighter touch with a brilliant through ball to Jody who beautifully curled it around the keeper that in any other game would be goal of the match – this match however was to have multiple choices in that area.
Whilst the midfield battle continued Charlwood managed to create a break and although there was some confusion pitch side as to whether it was offside the linesman was clear that the resulting goal wasn’t by explaining where the ball had rebounded from. Is this some form of Italian offside rule unbeknown to us English (+Scottish) simpletons or maybe we hadn’t really seen it properly? Either way it was 1-2.
Minutes later, a foul. Edge of the box. A two-man wall. The #10 in yellow stepped up. He struck it beautifully – the ball curls the wall and the keeper and strikes the far corner. It was a free-kick those famous Brazilian #10s – Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zico (yes the author is that old) - would have been proud of. 1-3.
“Come on boys, heads up, you should remain proud” was the cry from the crowd. Importantly it was also the cry from George! Our current “players player of the year” constantly encouraging, instructing and commanding to demonstrate why he was a worthy winner of the accolade.
The boys did remain proud. While many teams would have crumbled these lads showed heart and were still in this. The final chance of the half created by further Cam pressure, Charlie making a half attempt and Jody just pushing it wide. HT 1-3. The boys clapped off with huge encouragement.
The Vipers got their rewards and it was clear that the constant attacking pressing was rattling the defence of Charlwood who tried to remain resolute. A number of good clearing headers by their #14 being notable. A corner was won, William’s delivery had been good all day however this was exquisite. A fast flashing cross delivered to the near post was met with a well directed header from Charlie who made himself look Crouch-like in stature. 2-3! It was enough to make a grown man cry. In fact, there is a rumour circulating that it did make the author cry.
If there had been any doubt (and there wasn’t) that the Vipers couldn’t get back into this then there wasn’t now. With confidence up, belief there, the Vipers pressed on. Almost immediately Charlie won a penalty on the far side after a nudge in the back resulted in him falling 17 feet through the air. With the ball on the spot, for the 2nd game running, Cameron the brave stepped up to take the penalty. It had been noted after Scotland won a penalty shoot-out this week that Scotland had never missed a penalty in a shoot-out. Unfortunately, Cameron proved he was leaning towards the English side of the Ramsay family today and although struck with a lot of power it shaved just over the bar. Opportunity to pull level was lost.
The game had opened up and and the Vipers hatd he most of the clear-cut chances through this phase the game. This included a Jody chance that most days would have bought the desired result, and another Charlie header from a Fielden corner. At one point the ball looped high and Cam volleyed from an outrageous distance that went high and wide. “Cam you are not Zindane, but I love it…..” was the cry – for anyone who needs to understand that then YouTube is your friend - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TuggkDPw6A.
Everyone was tiring and passes were getting loose. A fingertip save from George pushed the ball wide. Charlwood broke from midfield and the Vipers slowly tracked thinking the ball was going out but the #18 of our opposition showed intelligence to charge it down and keep it in, his cross flashed across the goal for a simple tap-in. 2-4. With the time remaining this was going to be too big a hill to climb against a side of this ability – but could the boys get a goal back as a 2-goal margin felt harsh?
Raffety was the player of this segment of the game. He played some intelligent and smart passing moves that provided both Jody and Charlie chances but the ball wouldn’t land well as their defence snuffed out chances and denied a clear sight of goal. Charlwood were defending in numbers and it was a good lesson to be fair.
A tired tackle from William bought another penalty in the game and George bounced on his line making himself look huge, but it was well placed and now 2-5 Charlwood. Still heads never went down, Charlie in particular pushed hard to win the ball back on the far right and placed a beautiful low-cut cross that evaded the opposing keeper but Jody and Raff couldn’t quite get out of their own way to get that one chance that was needed.
The game finished 2-5. Charlwood had taken their chances and they knew that they had been in a well-mannered, tough battle and their celebratory cheers (quite fairly) showed that. After an encouraging team talk the Vipers came off to a raucous reception and standing ovation from all. Enough said.
Any player could have had man of the match for the size of their hearts however Cam received it for the size of his contribution and desire in midfield.
It was commented by many that this performance was one of the proudest we had ever witnessed by this group. Play like that in the league and good times will prevail.
As Napoleon Hill wrote “You don’t have to fear defeat if you believe it may reveal powers that you didn’t know you possessed”
Final word to the coach….