Match Report continued...
A general and quite impressive improvement in overall fitness across the pitch, gave rise to another great game of football (in the context of average player age and the odd pair of sunglasses). Steve Henderson was particularly impressed with Pat's newfound ability to make 10-yard dashes without falling prey to debilitating leg buckling, to the extent that he attempted his own daring sliding tackles for the ball only to succeed in removing a good few layers of skin from his knee.
Early pressure from the Tangerines forced some fine saves from Billy The Sliver-Haired Fish, occasional howling open-goal misses, and a fine move from Graham and Jack on the right that presented a chance for Dave H, but the resultant shot skied over Billy's bar. It looked like these chances might be rued later, as it was the Milanistas who took first blood. Mark Halliwell had already shown signs of being a menace down the flanks, and after another early mazy run hit a pin point cross over to Steve, whose glancing header did enough to out-fox a back-peddling John Gilligan and cause him to head a screamer past his own keeper, Sid. One of the best OG's ever witnessed. That was far from the end of Mr Gilligan's contribution to this match though, as he hit a scorcher of a right-footed equaliser in the 2nd quarter.
Buoyed by his success down the wing, young Halliwell began to attempt more audacious dribbling manoeuvres, which were curtailed by some swift physical tangerine challenges, and a verbal ticking off from his captain father who had made a 50-yard sprint for glory only to be thwarted by the lack of a final pass. The latter admonishment was somewhat undermined though by Rich immediately applauding his teenage team-mate's skills.
The other teenagers were not be outdone though, as Phil Halsey attempted his own Ronaldo-esque dribbles, and the now-veteran Allstar Andrew McKinlay shoring up the pace-free zone that was the tangerine defence. Phil probably faced the sterner challenges given he didn't have a justifiably concerned mother watching from the side. Cookie made note of this, and only 'took out' Halliwell Junior, putting him to the deck, when Sue's sunbathing technique required her to look away from the pitch.
With honours even, the next goal looked like proving crucial to team confidence, and it was the Tangerines who this time took the all important 2nd quarter lead. A hopeful ball hit into the opposition penalty box from the one-man turbo that is John Gilligan, was met by a glancing header from Cookie into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal past the despairing dive of Billy, and the equally despairing cries for offside from Max, even though half his team were between Cookie and the goal-line when the cross was delivered. Indeed, a genuinely offside Cookie 'goal' was later disallowed by common consensus. The Sheffield native hit quite a few shots in the game, but most of them hit Billy in the midriff. The only one that didn't from around 14 yards out, pinged off the bar and back into play.
The Milanistas had to go for broke now in search of an equaliser, so the Tangerines responded by moving Mince up front as part of a ginger-warrior attack force. Sid still didn't have a lot of direct shots to stop. Most of the shots were wide of target, snuffed out by the defence, or never materialised due to lack of decisive Milanista passing.
Nevertheless, with seconds to go, Max's boys won a corner. Disaster struck though as Billy came up to add to the pandemonium in Sid's box (never thought I'd have to write that phrase), as the ball was cleared out to the left. John pounced, took the ball forward and hit a shot towards the empty net from around the half-way line. Phil Halsey's young legs gave chase, but to no avail, arriving a few dying seconds after the ball crossed the line to make the final score 3-1 to the Tangerines.
(Note: the penalty competition returned, with the Tangerines again triumphant, as Sid only conceeded 4 of his 10 penalties - Max has made a few of these available on youtube).
Final score: The Tangerines 3-1 Max & Billy's Milinistas 1.
Attendance: 2 (Mrs S Halliwell, and Master S Doo).
Note: this match report has received input from various match participants - many thanks from the WebMaster for your contributions and for the Halliwell photography.
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