Rusty Reds slow to find top gear
Quinine 2 PFFC 1
The Philosophers were very unlucky to walk away from Regent's Park without at least a point as they lost out narrowly 2-1 to Quinine. Considering this was our first game of the year, fitness was always going to be an issue so to see such a large number turn up was a very encouraging sign. The Reds welcomed back Damian from the ankle injury which had kept him out for the start of the season but were missing both Captain Ally and manager Andrea, so it was a bit of one step forwards and two steps back.
With Andrea missing, the team reverted to a 4-4-2 formation: Kadeem in goal behind Andy, Michele, Damian and Rob at the back. Will moved out to the wing to allow Matt to drop back into midfield to partner Simon and Ömer out on the left. Dylan started his first game alongside Pablo. On the bench we had a host of strikers: James, Colm and Jesús. From the off, you could tell that the Philosophers were rusty, and they fell a goal behind early on. A foul, contentiously given for a throw from Rob, was quickly taken by the Quinine winger, giving it to their striker, who outmuscled Michele and calmly slotted the ball away: 0-1.
The goal seemed to waken the Reds, but not enough, as they soon found themselves 2-0 down. A quick interchange down the Quinine right saw the ball switched over to the left. Again the Quinine striker dispatched the ball goalwards and, despite Kadeem getting his fingertips onto it, the ball was too strong for him to keep out.
Something had to change and, considering it was Damian’s first game back, he decided to sub himself off and bring James on, with Will replacing him at the back. As the half went on Philosophy slowly got a foot-hold on the game, but without really troubling their keeper, while Quinine had a few shots and nearly put the game to bed before half-time, Kadeem preventing Michele from scoring an own-goal.
At half-time, Damian, Will and Matt had a quick management meeting to work out how to salvage something from the game. They realised that. despite being two goals down, Quinine had barely threatened the defence. So with that in mind, the formation was radically changed to a 3-2-1-4, with Jesús and Colm replacing Andy and Ömer.
The second half started with Kadeem in goal; Michele, Will and Rob at the back; Simon and Matt in midfield; and Dylan just behind Jesús, Pablo, Colm and James. Somehow, this new formation worked as Quinine found it extremely difficult to get the ball back and Philosophy were able to set up camp in their half. The flanks were wide open but Quinine were unable to take advantage of this – and when they did, they found Michele, Rob and Will in top form.
However, as the game continued it seemed that Philosophy could not break down a stubborn green wall. Both James and Dylan tested the keeper but were unable to beat him. Pablo and Jesús proved to be a handful out wide and Simon and Matt easily won the midfield battle, but it seemed that it was not to be.
The Reds pride themselves on their good passing football, so it was ironic that it was 'Route 1' which got them back in the game. A goal kick from Kadeem cleared the entire Quinine team and set Colm through. With acres of space to run in to, Colm decided to take the keeper by surprise and hit a stunning half-volley from 30 yards out into the top corner. It was a fine goal, one unlikely to be bettered all season.
Just like that, it was game on – but it had come too late and, despite all their efforts, the match ended 1-2.
PFFC (4-4-2): Kadeem; Andy, Michele, Damian, Rob; Will, Matt, Simon, Ömer; Dylan, Pablo.
Subs: Jesús, Colm, James.