Murder In A Walled GardenShin Kim
Bury St Edmunds away.
Under the tutelage of newly appointed Vice Captain Tom Marchant, 13 of South’s earliest risers made an away appearance in Culford. Some would describe the grounds as an idyllic haven with excellent sports facilities, whilst others would describe it as £28,485 a year for access to one public toilet. Perhaps they could only achieve 349 in the Times Overall Ranking because the assessors all had to queue to use the same singular rest room. Or perhaps more believably, this was a ploy to upset the customary pre-match rituals of a cohort of superstitious South players. If so, bravo, Bury, bravo. You had our number.
We arrived on time, and warmed up thoroughly in the last of the September sunshine. It was the perfect backdrop to the burning question: could we hold a lead for longer than a minute? For everyone with an interest in the 2nds surely knows that we are absolutely unbelievable at scoring the first goal, only to go and concede shortly afterwards, often succumbing to further pressure and losing, all from a winning position.
But to test this hypothesis, we would need to score first… and that we did, thanks to an Ash drag-flick special-delivery to the bottom right corner, making that 2 goals from 2 games this season. And by the time it had taken to write this very next sentence, Bury had replied through a tidy counter-attack. Back to even-Stevens. Yikes. But there is a twist to this tale, as shortly there-after, an unexpected Maz appeared in the centre circle as if some incongruous trebuchet, and spooned an aerial down the middle of the park, only for the receiving defender to take a swing and miss, allowing our mascot, Handsome Jim to pick up the ball and assist Oli far post who finished with aplomb. Ah ha! 1-2 to us! Yet another chance to prove our mental fortitude came begging… only to be deflated by 3 replies by the home side. Fate came a-knocking, as it so often does for us.
Did we deserve to win? Probably not in the end. Did we deserve to concede 4? Certainly not the 3rd, which keeper Mike self-proclaimed that he could have done better as the ball rolled through his legs from a short corner. He did make a few great saves to make up for it. Other individual highlights include a stellar debut for Steve, who played an industrial yet intellectual game in the middle, quite rightly receiving nearly unanimous votes for man of the match award. Tom Marchant had a go at an aerial from our baseline, which didn’t leave the ground. It happens to the best of us! Fortunately, the defense were able to snuff out the impending danger. Nik Patel showed the world what a fine dribbler he was, turning the opposition inside out. I don’t think I saw him get tackled even once, anywhere within our own 25 anyhow. Another mention for Maz who defined tunnel vision when given the ball, with the uncanny ability to drown out all sounds around him despite the innumerable calls from teammates all around. However, Lemon goes to Shin, who selflessly saved the uncountable crowd from a dangerous stray bouncing hockey ball, catching it with his bare hands; shortly afterwards, remembering our new covid guidelines, leading us to pause the game as we searched for a new match ball as this one had his cooties on it.
As a team, we had passages of flowing passes which had the opposition scrambling. But this was only a part of today’s dream-like morning. There were times when we switched off and we were merely marionettes to their controlling style of play. It’s all too easy to dust off the result and say, it’s only preseason, but I believe that we’ve learnt many lessons today, which will make us a harder team to beat the next time we play. Here’s to keeping a lead.