Falcons stumbled to a 3-5 defeat to Titans XXL in the April sunshine.
If ever a game summed up an end of season feel it was this one. This season has felt testing at the best of times but the sheer amount of work involved in trying to get a team out for the past two weeks has taken things to a new level. Last week we went from 17 players to 12 in the space of 3 days but managed to get away with that due to the opposition suffering similar problems. At 9am on Sunday we had 14 players. That became 13 as Conal helped my hangover by calling to say his cat had given birth; surely the best excuse I’ve ever had for someone not being able to make a game. By 11am it was 12 as Kieran’s groin hadn’t healed. Then, ten minutes before everyone was due to meet, Olu messaged to convey that he’d only just woken up and wouldn’t make it on time. Or at all, as it turned out.
So, with several hangovers in place it was superb that this was the hottest weekend of the year. Even better that we had to change three of the back four from the previous week to include Jack (not played 90 minutes since September) and Tom (not played since last season but very kindly stepped in at the last minute). With Chris having twisted his ankle and Olu catching his zzz’s, we also didn’t have a recognised striker so Stevie had the challenging task of flying solo up front. Brady and Alex also returned to the team.
Things got off to the worst possible start as we conceded a free kick 40 yards out and Josh lost his marker to head home easily. A sign of things to come. Brady was disposed on the edge of the Titans area and the opposition counter-attacked swiftly to bring about the second before a corner found Adam also losing his marker to make it 3-0 after just 20 minutes.
Josh bagged his hat trick to make it four before our one bright spot of the first half. Terry in the Titans goal came out of his area to try and clear the ball, only for it to land near Abdul who hit a first-time shot into the goal from 25 yards to make it 4-1.
Sadly, the joy was short-lived as another long ball over the top found Josh who was clearly enjoying his day and we went into the interval at 5-1 down.
This was quite an unusual position for us to be in during the break as we’d not lost a game by more than two goals over the past two seasons. However, there was a strange optimism that we could salvage something from the match. Despite the scoreline, the opposition’s approach was quite simple in hurling long thrown-ins into the box and sending balls from the back over the defence. To try and cut out the errors, Alex moved into the centre of defence and there was a message to move the ball much quicker after several players had been caught taking too many touches in the first half.
We did start the second half much better and Jimmy played Stevie in with a clever ball over the defence but he just lost his bearings, going for a header when he had time to bring the ball down and shoot.
Then, with an hour gone, things started to get interesting. A corner from the right was headed home by Duncan. Minutes later, a free kick caused havoc in the Titans area and an own goal meant we’d halved the deficit to 3-5 with 20 minutes to go.
Going into the water break (it was very hot!), you could see one or two nerves appearing for the Titans. Things could have become even more interesting as Percy’s shot took a deflection to go agonisingly wide but, sadly, that was as close as we came for the rest of the match.
Ultimately, this was a pretty low-quality game with lots of errors leading to the high scoreline. We tried our best but this was not the day to come with only 11 players and the tiredness certainly kicked in as the game progressed.
That being said, this was a pretty unimportant game in the grand scheme of things and only our third defeat of the season – the same number as the previous year when we won the league. Thanks to everyone who has played for us in 2017/18. Although we didn’t quite hit the heights of 2016/17, the big picture is that we’ve added good new players to our squad, we’ve become far more financially stable and we’re a million years ahead of where we were two years ago. We now enter summer tournament mode, starting next Saturday in east London with a 7-aside competition.
Squad: Matt, Alex, Duncan, Tom, Jack, Jimmy, Percy, Brady, Abdul, Pete, Stevie
Scorers: Abdul (35), Duncan (60), OG (65)