It is a staple cliche of Sunday league football that the manager spends most of Saturday ringing round players trying to get a team together. This is largely a myth (at least at Kitsonians) but this week was one of those rare occasions where numbers were, on Saturday night looking worryingly “tight.”
So it was that on Sunday morning Kitsonians turned up at last seasons home pitch to play N.C.I. (Div 1a) in the cup with 12 players!
Team selection was obviously relatively simple, and the pre match managers talk focused on the need to put to one side the long list of very legitimate excuses for a possible poor performance, and to instead focus on hard work, discipline and positivity for the whole match.
Without wanting to become too philosophical here, the above quote from arguably the greatest sports coach of all time (not arguably, it’s just a fact) sums up perfectly what it is to strive for greatness, whether that be in sport or in life.
Just occasionally when you are involved in team sport you may be lucky enough to witness all of those characteristics in action. This match was one such occasion.
To a man the whole team executed their roles to perfection, The forwards worked the opposition back line with high tempo closing of the ball, the wingers consistently took the game to their full backs whilst at no time neglecting their own defensive duties. The midfield three were the embodiment of work rate, discipline and communication and the back line were imperious supported magnificently by a goalkeeper who made a series of top class saves and marshalled his box impeccably.
There was no sense of good fortune when on 7 minutes C. Thurlbourne converted M. Sadeqpur’s pass to make it 1 nil. In fact the sense of injustice on 25 when NCI equalised was palpable.
As the first half moved on the fact that NCI’s bench was overflowing with substitutes began to reap dividends for them, as the effect of two injuries was minimised as the wounded players were simply replaced with fresh faces (and probably more significantly fresh legs,) in spite of this Kitsonians continued their high tempo, disciplined pressing game and were unfortunate not to be awarded at least one of three definite penalty shouts (two of which were what is known in the trade as “stone wall.”)
Half time came and went with no changes to the Kitsonians line up and talk of continuing, what was basically a perfect first half display, in the face of the expected increased determination from NCI.
After a slightly slow start to the second half during which time NCI did indeed come out with renewed purpose and create a couple of decent scoring chances, kitsonians steadily worked their way back into the battle. Whilst they weren’t necessarily able to maintain the consistent pressure on the NCI backline that had in the early part of the match, they traded counter attacking chances with the opponent.
Unfortunately in the last ten to fifteen minutes, as legs particularly in the Kitsonians midfield and attack tired (and NCI made two more substitution!) one of the many long balls from the NCI left side allowed the fourth of their substitutes (a pacy centre forward) to get in behind the Kitsonians defence and score the devastating goal to make it 2 – 1 with just eight minutes to go.
It is of great credit to all of those present that even in those closing eight minutes, with obviously nothing left in their legs Kitsonians still conspired to create 2 decent scoring opportunities and to win two corners.
On this day though it wasn’t to be, but it is a testament to the quality of this monumental team performance that a result has never felt so unimportant.
Winning is always the aim, in life and in Sunday League Football, but just occasionally leaving the field of play knowing that to a man you had nothing more to give is more important.
A performance to be proud of, a performance to remember, and most importantly a performance to build on.
Team: GK-Evardas Dudko, RCB-Dan Shinn, CB-Kevin Driver, LCB-Steven Dunkley, RM-Andrew Dobie, CM-Adam Paget, DCM-Sam Dipple, CM-Mike Ball, LM-Tom Matthews, FW-Majeed Sadeqpur, FW-Carl Thurlbourne. SUBS. Nigel Gardiner.