Pearls and pitfalls

Jan Brynjolffssen

The Mixed B’s first game of the New Year was unseasonably spring-like for January. Mostly. 90% of the pitch was like that, but the 10% that was still in the shadow of the Herts & Essex Leisure Centre building had still not got any sun by the push-back time of 13:00 and was to prove we are still very much in winter by never really completely defrosting… but more on that later as the pitch was merely lying in wait at this stage.

South, resplendent in our bright yellow away kit to match the sunny day began proceedings by admiring Stortford’s whizzy new scoreboard, which even had our club logo loaded up for the game. Questions abounded about whether we could get something similar for Long Road, so I’m going to save Neil the trouble and give his reaction on his behalf; “If we can’t even keep track of club shirts, or look after the kit sheds to stop them getting damaged potentially beyond repair, we are not spending thousands of pounds on a scoreboard that i) we will lose the controller for in days and ii) would be in range of a JJ or Colin T squarial” We would just have to make the most of our away day in the presence of such a whizzy gizmo (and good luck to Stortford with errant aerials!).

The scoreboard was telling a pleasing story from our perspective in the first half as it ticked its way up to a 3-0 half-time lead. The first came from the best move I remember the Mixed B’s ever producing – it started in our left back zone, Jan spotting right winger Esme in space and pinging a diagonal ball out to her. Esme zipped forward into the empty acres in front of her, and then picked out the right centring pass, high to the opposite side of the circle as the scrambling Stortford defence collapsed towards their near post (as most defences would in the circumstances – cut out the direct route to goal). The ball across was perfect for Polly, arriving late from the left flank and in glorious isolation, to move on to and sweep first time into the exposed near corner. 10 seconds, end to end, side to side twice, goal. Excellent.

Chances and goals kept coming for South, despite the strenuous efforts of some on our team to stop them. The second was finished by Emily, taking a pass Nev had dinked over a defender’s stick and then shooting from a narrow angle just inside the far post. Jimmy Whizz then got an individual third, going on a typical run and then smacking a reverse stick cross which a defender deflected away from the South forwards… and their own ‘keeper. Goal given… except sweeper Jan, who was midway up the Stortford half for no apparent reason, decided to advice the Umpire to disallow it. Because he thought no attacked had touched it in the circle. Cue five seconds of confusion until the Umps determined that Jimmy had been in the circle when he crossed, so good goal. And Jan needs his glasses checking before he does any more pool Umpiring!

The second half saw us playing into the full glare of the sun. Would that make a difference? 3-0 up at half-time, 4-3 at full… yeah, I think it did. Not sure exactly how because we were still trying to pass the ball around. Maybe it was Stortford being able to see their players now??

Anyway our goal began to be under more threat, with the hosts pulling one back 10 minutes into the period. We responded straight away though, getting a fourth less than a minute later when Jan’s wanderings took him up the right wing on this occasion. From there he drilled the ball towards the far post. A defender should really have cut it out but flubbed his control, the ball going to Naomi behind him. She punished the mistake severely, slamming the ball into roof of the net.

Three goals clear again, so we could relax, right? Not if that results in conceding twice in the next 5 minutes! Oops. 4-3 by the mid-point of the second half, it all became more fraught than expected. Stortford were pushing players forward seeking an equaliser, resulting in the play becoming really stretched. But of the two teams we were having the better chances. 5-3 felt more likely than 4-4.

There were also some injuries and pratfalls going on, Avi getting a powerfully struck ball on the instep which resulted in a two minute break in play. The scoreboard clock didn’t stop for this, making it read wrong and seeing players from the club that doesn’t even own a scoreboard throwing shade on it. Hmm. The other memorable incident of the last few minutes was the still frozen section of pitch, which been sniggering evilly to itself all game, finally springing its trap when a Stortford defender attempted to turn. He got no grip at all as his feet just kept going, sending him into a flying two-footed lunge that clattered into Polly, who was innocently standing nearby. Oof. Good job Polly doesn’t play Football,* or she would still be on the ground writhing in pain and demanding a red card now. Instead both players got up straight back up with no harm done (beyond hurt pride). [N.B. Polly was not bleeding after this]
* - Apart from the bit in the first half where she kicked the ball into the Stortford goal. We’ll ignore that and admire the commitment of the full length dive to try and keep it out… after the whistle had already gone for a free hit to the hosts. Dramatic and pointless in equal measure.

These incidents helped break the flow of the game over the last few minutes, which aided us close out the win. Then it was up to the Sports Bar overlooking the pitch to consume pizza and watch the A Teams going at it. A great way to round off after a fun game.


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Henry Macdonald
Player of the Match

Excellent in defence - knew exactly where to be to keep our goal safe

Jan Brynjolffssen
Lemon of the Match

Blind as a bat in attack - didn't have a clue where the edge of the opponents circle was. What was he doing up there anyway?