It was a sweltering Sunday afternoon. With the title wrapped up with and two games to go you would have thought that complacency would have been the order of the day. But one thing was clear from the warmup, no turkeys were getting stuffed today.
We lined up in the 4-3-3 formation which had seen us have great success against Japan the weekend prior. Mirko in goal with Ben Mansell, Mark Kenny, Stephan & myself making up a back four so stingy Dunsby would’ve been proud of us. In the middle we had a three of Clem, Kevin & Mike Owen. And a front three of Emma, Hoggy & Chris. With Fola, Jimmy Q, Sven, Fola and Flo on the bench.
Game on! The Raiders came flying out of the traps, moving the ball swiftly and pressing with authority. After some patient build up around the back line Stephan drilled a dart over the top of their defence and Hoggy swooped in on the bouncing ball to delicately lift it over the keeper. It hit the post and after what seemed like an eternity it trickled into the goal. 1-0 to the champions!
The Raiders again went full throttle from the second kick off. Keeping possession and refusing to let Fighting Cocks come within a metre of the ball. If you want to see how you successfully social distance during a football game just watch fighting Cocks try to win the ball back during the first ten minutes after that kick off.
We moved down the pitch and got a corner. A lovely near post whip by Mike Owen fell to Hoggle to flick it into the path of an onrushing Kevin Fox to tap it in via the crossbar. 2-0 up.
Whether it was the heat or complacency after the water break is up for debate but the tempo from the Raiders dropped and we paid for it. Fighting Cock’s tricky left winger a nice 1,2 and laid on their right winger for a tap in. Absolutely nothing the Raiders left back could have done about that…
With the introduction of Fola we switched to a 4-4-2. After both teams exchanging possession the Raiders snapped into life and the ball was laid into an onrushing Emma by Hoggy. Emma returned the ball to Hoggy with an incisive through ball that cut their defence open. Cool as a cucumber Hoggy rounded the recovering defender and slotted it in. 3-1. I looked for Kevin to congratulate him on his shift in the middle of the park but he was on the floor talking about a recovery sprint.
Again the ball was exchanged between the two teams. After a fairly harmless challenge from Clem a bouncing ball fell to Emma. Their centre midfielder decided to try and Hadouken Emma with a flying kick to the leg. Straight red from the Ref. Fighting cocks down to ten men (finally).
Emma decided to get revenge in the right way and seized upon a loose ball across their back four. Side stepping the defender and taking the ball with him he slotted it away cool as a bucket full of trà đá. Again I went to try and celebrate with Kevin but he was too busy lying on the floor still chatting about that recovery sprint.
Again possession was exchanged between the teams with the Raiders electing to sit back. Ben Mansell subbed back on for me, nicked the ball and passed it to Clem, Clem moved it onto Hoggy who set Fola free with a ball through the middle of the defence. Fola took a touch set himself and slotted it home for 5-1 and with that a resounding victory against our closest competitors. I looked around the pitch to congratulate Kevin but again he was on the floor mumbling frantically about a recovery sprint.
MOTM went to Clem for a dogged yet assured performance. Turkey went to me for taking a throw in when the ref had clearly signalled a throw in but then as I picked it up he decided it was a drop ball. Ridiculous. Make sure you are there for our social on Saturday where we will be taking our antics to the Saigon River. Definitely gonna be a Raider overboard. I’ve got 100K on Arjen if anyone fancies betting against me.