Match Report - 04 Oct 2009, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers beat Lambeth United
The first time in 13 months we have ever had anything like a full first team squad out. And what a squad!
2. Andy C
3. Steve O'H
6. Steve W
8. Matt W
10. Dan H
True to form, 2 pulled out on Sunday morning. I won't mention any names, but it was numbers 13 and 14. In fact number 13 pulled out at 9am as he was still inebriated and couldn't legally drive to the pitch. Number 14 disappeared off the face of the earth. We have not heard hide nor hair of him. He may well be bound and gagged in the Colombian jungle, having been repeatedly anally violated by a group of hairy FARC rebels. Or he may have just slept through his alarm. I wasn't too bothered as it cut out having to make any difficult selection decisions and meant 10 people got a full 90 mins. Plus, let's face it Rovers wouldn't be Rovers without a couple of last minute pullouts.
So off we trotted to Wandsworth Common to face Lambeth Utd. The form book hinted that the oppo may well be this year's whipping boys and Hitman Harley was swift to suggest a "goal fest" may be in order. The gaffer was slightly concerned that complacency might be our downfall but as one can see from the scoreline, such fears were misplaced. A blow by blow match report would be verging on the lengthy side and exhaust the supply of superlatives at my disposal - perish the thought! I hope a description of the 8 goals will suffice, apologies if any of this is wrong:
Goal 1: A low drive from left back Steve O'Herlihy was heading towards goal but was diverted in anyway by the stray boot of a Lambeth defender. Steve's claiming it. I'm not going to argue with him.
Goal 2: A long throw in from Andy C created chaos in the box, Dan Harley reacted first to poke the ball around the keeper and into the net for his second goal in 2 games.
Goal 3: This was lovely. A ball into space from Matt W, Dan got there ahead of his man and evaded his challenge for a fairly lengthy run in to goal and a nice open-bodied, side footed finish into the far corner a` la Thierry Henry. Lethal.
Goal 4: A Steve O'H corner bundled in at the back post with a mixture of head and face by Andy C, one of the "big men up from the back". Not the most attractive of goals and I'm not sure he knew much about it but they all count. Steve W missed this goal as he was involved in an extraordinarily isolated one on one man on man spat with his opposite number. Noone knows what it was about to this day but it seemed pretty heated.
Half Time - 4-0
Goal 5: A rapier thrust counter attack, a controlled volley over the last line of defence by Matt W for his second assist of the day. Hitman Harley was onto it in a flash, nodding it down into his own path before deftly lofting it over the onrushing keeper for his hat-trick and 5th goal in 2 games.
Goal 6: A delightfully weighted ball from right to left by Ollie found Seb in acres of space on the left hand side of the area. One touch to control preceded a low half volley from point blank range well saved by the keeper. Fortunately for Rovers the ball ricocheted to the appropriately placed James Mark (or should I say Tony Payne) who had switched to striker following a groin strain. Tony sidefooted in with ease. Right place right time. Michael Owen-esque. Particularly the groin strain.
Goal 7: Goal of the match I'd say...
Beautiful flighted ball from the byeline by Steve W who at this point had moved into a right wingback role. Lofted tantalisingly over the despairing fingertips of the keeper to the far post where Seb came flying in, literally FLYING IN, like Ruud Gullit in his Milanese pomp, dreadlocks splayed, to BULLET home a header from 1 yard. By this time celebrations were almost passe`. But I celebrated anyway.
Goal 8: Steve O'H in duracell bunny/ "pendolino" mode embarked on a mazy left wing dribble, the likes of which Cafu would have been proud. Lambeth's right back was certainly bamboozled and in his clumsiness hacked Steve down for a pen. Designated penalty taker Hitman Harley immediately grabbed the ball. Steve looked a bit peeved. The gaffer suggested to Hat-trick Hitman that he was being greedy and that Steve should take it. Steve Bruce would have been livid. But this is Clapham Rovers, not Sunderland, so Steve Bruce can f**k off. Steve O'H duly did the business, a thunderbolt struck out of the keeper's reach to his left.
Somewhere amongst wave after wave of cerise and french grey attacks, Lambeth pulled back a consolation. I believe Chris Kew, who had until this point enjoyed a lazy October morning in the sunshine, was braiding his hair into cornrows at the time.
So, 8 goals scored, and the most complete Rovers performance I have witnessed to date. Yes the opposition weren't up to much, but I honestly believe they would have beaten us last season. We were thoroughly impressive and played some lovely stuff. Not mentioned here are the numerous other chances we had and from which we really should have scored (chief offender: Dan Harley's new boots.) It could have been 14-1. Slightly disconcerting that we switched off a bit in the second half and conceded an unnecessary goal due to a lack of concentration. However, I'm not going to harp on about this, we had the job done at half time, by that time everyone wanted to get in on the goalscoring act and our formation had gone to pot a bit.
I am reluctant to pick out individuals for special praise after what was so evidently a team performance but as that is what I am (not) paid to do here goes:
Steve O'H - scored 2 goals from left back and was solid in defence and dominant in the air as always.
Matt W and Ollie - a blossoming midfield partnership of 2 real "schemers". Some lovely one touch passing combined with some beautifully accurate raking long balls. Fit enough to track back when we lost possession as well. A really great performance from both.
Dan Harley - a hat-trick is a great achievment on anyone's terms and something Clapham Rovers have until this point only experienced happening against them. He could have had 2 hat-tricks but Dan revels in taking the really difficult chances and missing the far easier ones. All 3 of his goals involved him getting to the ball ahead of his marker when he had no right to.
Man of the Match: Dan Harley
My proudest moment on a football field occurred towards the end of the game when I overhead Lambeth's gaffer talking to one of their subs on the touchline nearest to me. By this stage we were 7-0 up. "This lot have won the FA Cup you know?" said impressed gaffer. Cue incredulous look from sub. "Yeah, in the 1920s I think it was..." I resisted the urge to correct him from my left wing berth. 1880 it was. A goal from Clopton Lloyd-Jones dispatched Oxford University 1-0 at the Kennington Oval. I'm sure Mr. Lloyd-Jones would have been smiling from his perch in footballers' heaven yesterday as he watched his beloved Rovers run riot.
Contrary to what I told you on Sunday THERE IS A MATCH THIS COMING SUNDAY 11TH OCTOBER. I was informed of it last night. It is a BERT GABEY (!) CUP MATCH vs none other than Jim's old nemesis SPORTING SANTAR. It seems we will be seeing a lot of this bunch of Portuguese fudge nudgers this season. Unfortunately I will be in Barcelona this weekend (scouting of course) so will be unavailable for selection/management duties. Kewy will be in touch in due course with the details. Please reply to him.
The League Committee have also informed me that until the London FA notify me of Jim's suspension, he is free to play as James Mark. Which is great news for Tony Payne.
Well done on an outstanding performance on Sunday boys. We now sit 2nd in the league. Good luck on Sunday. It would be great to get a similar team out. Let's have a good cup run this year. I want to get my hands on the Bert Gabey.
Resa Non Verba
Lambeth United 1 - 8 Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers ()