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FaT v BPBC Football Challenge, Mich Term 2011

Annual Club v Alumni football match
Sat 1st October

At the bottom of this page there is a link to Cambridge weather. Club members, please go here to add (or correct) results, crews or race reports.

First and Third 1st XI, Football XI

4 - 4 Draw
FaT resorted to its age old tradition of using ringers to gain an advantage over Black Prince. With the conversion of Neil Talbott and John D'Arcy to First and Third the sides were fairly even.
Going into half time BPBC led by a goal at 2-1. However FaT pushed hard in the second half, first levelling the score and then drawing ahead, only for Black Prince to push back each time, levelling the score twice.

Subs used, (Pope for Croft, Talbott for Attwood, D'Arcy for Pope)

Scorers: Talbott (1-1), Ford (2-2), Mitchard (3-2), Leach (4-3) (Thomas)
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BPBC 1st XI, Football XI

4 - 4 Draw
Twenty years ago, Kenny Dalglish led Liverpool into what turned out to be the final Merseyside derby of his first spell in charge in an FA Cup 5th round replay. The match was one of the all-time classics, finishing 4-4 with Everton scoring a dramatic late equaliser. Back then there was no back-pass rule, tackles from behind were routine and the England manager was English. Good times: games just don't finish 4-4 any more...

Two decades later and King Kenny was once again leading the Reds into battle, but this time on Saturday's undercard. The main event was at Cranmer Road, moved from its traditional March slot because of television commitments. Several regulars returned for Black Prince, with new signing Richard Sworder making his debut after his acrimonious transfer from College and erstwhile 1st & 3rd stalwart Bryn also playing for the old boys for the first time, a late addition after his wife was ruled out of the match through pregnancy.

The match started at a furious pace despite record October temperatures, with both sides creating chances, but it was Black Prince that looked the likelier. Peter Leach, in the FaT goal, was forced into two point-blank saves as BPBC sought to find a way through. BPBC were rocked by an early injury as left-back Phil Horler suffered an unfortunate recurrence of a knee injury, but regrouped and kept up the pressure. Eventually this told, as Andy Somers skipped through a hole in the defence and clipped the ball adroitly past Leachy for the opener.

Having seen his side throw away the lead four times in that 1991 epic, Dalglish at least waited a couple of days before tendering his resignation; not so in this match, as Neil Talbott, BPBC's manager, who had started on the bench, had his head turned by an undisclosed signing-on fee, switched sides and slotted in alongside Tom O'Neill in FaT's central defence. The only initial difference was an increase in the number of offside appeals, reminiscent of Tony Adams in another throw-back to the 90s, this seeming more likely to stem the old boys' attacks than my ageing legs.

Black Prince continued to dominate possession, with Chris Ingram playing his usual anchor role and cleaning up in front of the defence. As a free-flowing move developed, Ingers made a rare foray into FaT territory. Unfortunately a slightly short pass allowed Neil to steal possession, break away down the now unguarded left wing and fluke a rare left-footed drive past Mike Goodson to level the scores. The renegade manager wheeled away to the FaT grandstand, kissed his badge and taunted the BPBC fans who were screaming 'Judas'. (Ok, I made up that bit.)

The match was now much more even and chances were created by both sides. Men's captain Jacob Fries led the line impressively for FaT but the most cultured effort came from Graham Fisher, who unleashed an exquisite right-footed curler from outside the penalty area which was dipping just in, only to see an even better save from Leachy who finger-tipped the ball onto the crossbar and over. Nonetheless, BPBC regained the lead just before half-time when Rich Sworder, Bryn and Adam Blacklay combined well down the right, resulting in a cut-back which found Andy Somers who brilliantly arrowed the ball left-footed into the top corner in a flashback to Alan Shearer's second against Holland in the 4-1 victory at Euro '96.

Half-time arrived, along with quarter-oranges, with BPBC 2-1 to the good. I was subjected to a barrage of abuse from a disgruntled Mrs Bryn, furious with my having swapped obsidian* for blue and gold. Substitutions were considered and discounted, primarily for tactical reasons but partly because of a lack of candidates. The younger brethren were reminded that Everton were losing at half time on that famous day at Goodison Park; the referee (John D'Arcy) was abducted, bribed and persuaded to play the second half for FaT as a replacement referee from College arrived.

A reshuffle in the FaT formation saw Gonzalo move to centre-back, Tom O'Neill take over in goal, Leachy shift to the right flank and the left-back spot remain entirely unoccupied. This led to a somewhat more open game, especially as lack of match fitness started to take its toll on many. Fortunately, sufficient match balls sailed over the various fences that everyone was able to get their breath back at regular intervals.

Goals continued to look likely and Seb provided an increasing threat up front for Black Prince. At the back, Simon Knight was a formidable presence, marshalling the defence with aplomb and repelling FaT's route one efforts, and Mike Goodson was as solid as ever in goal. However, it was FaT who struck next, as good work from Jacob and Matt Griffiths created a chance for Peter Ford who stole in behind the defence to bring FaT level once more.

1st & 3rd continued to attack, looking to take the lead for the first time, with D'Arcy and Leachy causing havoc down the wings. The best opportunity fell to Leachy whose twinkle toes took him into the penalty area, but he had reckoned without the defensive prowess of Ingers who executed a superb sliding tackle to perfection with the goal gaping, and followed this up with several more close-range blocks over the next couple of minutes.

Finally, the pressure told, with FaT taking a 3-2 advantage after a goalmouth scramble; in classic Wengerian fashion, "I did not see it" but I am told that Matt Mitchard applied the finish. In any case, the lead did not last long, as hesitation in the FaT defence after a free kick was questionably taken short by me allowed Adam to steal possession, stride into the penalty area and finish expertly past Thomas to give BPBC a 3-3 lead.

Chances continued to come as the game entered the final ten minutes. Matt 'the destroyer' Byrne had a shot cleared off the line and Graham came so close to opening his BPBC account, but the breakthrough came at the other end as another of Leachy's darting runs into the box ended with a crisp finish into the far corner past Mike's despairing dive, leaving the youngsters 4-3 ahead with just 5 minutes left to play.

With so little time remaining, BPBC threw caution to the wind and piled forward in numbers, leaving holes at the back in an effort to find an equaliser. FaT sat deeper and deeper and clearances became increasingly panicked, but it seemed as though they might hold out. Then Ingers picked up a loose ball in midfield and fed Simon down the left, who drilled a pinpoint cross to an unmarked Seb at the back post, and he evoked the spirit of Tony Cottee to rifle a magnificent volley into the roof of the net.

Still there was time for one more chance: D'Arcy broke through the centre and fed the ball through the middle for Neil, who couldn't quite get enough of a toe-end on the ball and Goodson made yet another save. The final whistle followed, and Mike's having to dash off provided a perfect excuse to avoid a penalty shoot-out, so this thrilling game ended in the first draw in this fixture.

Candidates for the Champagne Moment were surprisingly plural this year. Seb's goal and Andy's second were both outstanding finishes, and Ingers' sliding tackle in the penalty area was timed to perfection. The winner, though, was Graham's shot at the end of a flowing move from BPBC, saved brilliantly by Leachy - good football all round, as has never been said before in this fixture.

The Blue Nun moment was rather less competitive: any air-shots, missed sitters or otherly comic efforts were quickly put into perspective after the match as Ingers and I (Talbott) went scavenging for lost balls. Those in FaT and BPBC colours were found after relatively short (if painful) searches through hawthorn bushes, but the better quality main match ball was nowhere to be found. Eventually we gave up and collected up a few bits of rubbish before leaving. Suffice to say that the plastic bag near the gate turned out to be of a surprisingly spherical shape.

Finally, the Carlos Tevez award was given to JPD who had texted to say he would be "slightly late - as in, the first half has finished and I'm still in my flat in London". Reasons given included one broken fin, two punctured inner-tubes and an accidental two-and-a-half hour discussion on hydrodynamical lift. Only the latter excuse was sufficiently convincing to persuade the jury that this wasn't a cover story for some secret tryst with a girl...

Thanks very much to all who played, to John D'Arcy and Dany for reffing, to Thomas for having organised the pitch and FaT team and to Chris and Mike for hosting a magnificent post-match barbecue. Phil, your knee may not have lasted the 90 minutes but be assured that your fiery chilli burgers claimed several victims over the next 24 hours.

FaT squad: Leach, Scott-Brown, O'Neill, Attwood, Talbott, Croft, Garcia, Ge, Mitchard, Griffiths, D'Arcy, Ford, Fries.

BPBC squad: Goodson, Horler, Knight, Ponsonby, Ingram, Sworder, Blacklay, B Garrod, Byrne, Somers, G Fisher, Pancratz.

* Black Prince's official colour (along with Old Gold). Generally a dark shade of black which may under certain light conditions, such as might be present on unfeasibly hot October days, become a garish red. (Neil T)
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