Firstly I’ d like to apologise to the members of LOBFC 3rd team for my total failure to turn up to this match. Emphatically not my finest hour.
I was half an hour late but still the first player to arrive at the pitch. I like a team who doesn’t take punctuality too seriously. The playing surface was excellent (this is where Watford FC train) and it was absolutely freezing.
As usual I was completely knackered by the end of the warm-up which is by a mile more tiring than the game itself and spent the first few minutes of the match panting like a tramp on a treadmill. To my surprise UCL dominated the first ten minutes and I thought how fortuitous that I hadn’t predicted an easy win in yesterday’s post. My only involvement early on was a free kick from twenty yards which the taker was clearly going to shoot from. Shoot he did, and cleared the wall but it had no legs and dropped on the ground in front of me where I held it easily. That ‘save’ was the highlight of my performance.
Completely against the run of play we scored after 15 minutes or so. Confidence returned a bit and we starting playing much better. Then, of course, they scored. A scramble on the edge of the penalty area resulted in a terrific strike into the top corner which, as the saying goes, no goalkeeper in the world would have stopped, and I am certainly no goalkeeper in the world.
However, I felt a lot less not bad about the next one. I’m still not sure how it happened but a long looping cross from my right went way over my head and dropped in at the back post with me flailing uselessly in the middle of the goal. I have no idea whether I was positioned wrong or should have moved more quickly but I’m fairly certain a decent keeper would have stopped it with ease. That was certainly the feeling expressed somewhat more tersely, and with liberal use of anglo-saxon, by our left winger. I think he probably had a point.
We went off at half time being beaten by a team we really didn’t think we should be being beaten by. Still, at 2-1 we were very much still in it. And indeed we probably would have ended up winning if it were not ‘we’ but ‘them’.
Straight out of the blocks from the kick-off and we really did run rings around them. In the first twenty minutes we scored twice, Victor finishing a one-on-one with a panache he lacked in the game against Wood Green. We were 3-2 up.
I’d barely been asked to do anything in the second half and my contact lenses were starting to freeze to my eyeballs when a cross came in from my left. I chose, probably wisely, to stay on my line and it fell to a forward about 4 yards out who was well marked but still managed to dink a header towards the goal to my right.
Not very far to my right actually, and with no pace. As I dived there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was getting a hand to it. It was a work-a-day save, not even one that would prompt a ‘well played keeps’. But somehow the message from my brain instructing my right arm to extend was simply ignored and I fell on my face with my arm still under me as the ball bobbled past my head and into the net. I don’t think I’ve ever been so furious with myself.
I was still in the process of putting my mutinous right arm on a charge of gross insubordination when they won a free kick twenty-five yards out which, while I was watching the ball, got promoted to a penalty. The ref had spotted some argy-bargy in the box and blown up. By which I mean he blew his whistle, not that he exploded. However John, our centre-half who had apparently been the guilty party, did actually explode.
A lot of shouting later, and after the shrapnel had cleared, the penalty sailed in to my left as I dived right. They were ahead again.
In the dying minutes I watched our fourth and equalising goal being tapped in by our left winger, who had been skinning their right back all game, after some lovely passing that left their keeper miles away. So, we got a well-deserved point.
Actually now I look back on it that was quite an exciting game, what with the lead swapping three times, but it didn’t feel that way when I was playing in it. It felt freezing fucking cold and miserable, less because of the weather than because I knew I was letting a good side down with a hopeless performance. They should have won 4-2.
There is one bright side: the game against Leyton which was abandoned because the referee’s voice broke at half time has finally been awarded to Latymer as a 3-0 win. Which was in fact the score at half time when we stopped playing.
I’m claiming a clean sheet!