Happy Valley Pitch 2 on 23 October 2018, KO 8p.m.

Squad: Alessio (GK), Kieran C, Matija, Steve, Gazz, Ariel, Bazz, Morse, Fouad, Andy C, Scott, Rudi

Scorers: Andy C, Fouad

A fine performance and well-deserved win by a mixed team of younger and older Vets. The Manager’s carefully crafted rotation plan for three thirds was in tatters as kick-off approached as a result of late withdrawals and a couple of no-shows. The ex-Pros arrived en masse with a squad of 17 plus manager and linesmen and proposed a game of 4 quarters. With Rudi scheduled to arrive late, we did not have any selection problems and started with a 4-1-4-1 with Morse in front of a back 4, Scott as a sole striker and all eyes on their big number 9 Detinho who had caused us problems in our earlier encounter. The first quarter was a fairly even affair, with the ex-Pros always building from the same central mid-fielder and looking for Detinho (up against our own Croatian man-mountain) and a quick right winger (up against Gazza, whose mind must surely be on getting his senior discount boat pass next month). However, it was DB that had the first big chance as Fouad (fresh off a long-distance flight and playing in a pair of borrowed boots that were 3 sizes too big) cut in from the left and shot from distance, just over the bar. It was inevitable that the ex-Pros would create chances of their own and they duly did as they got in behind our left defence and a cross to the far post was duly dispatched to make it 1-0. In the 2nd quarter, we brought on Rudi and moved Morse back to central defence to give Steve a break. We know this was going to be a vital quarter as this was a stage where on previous occasions we had let them control the game. However, with Matija and Morse dominant at the back and Rudi and Bazz shielding the Back 4, we stood firm and got to half-time. We looked for an impact sub to change the game but found only Steve who came on for Kieran, and pushed Morse to his customary LB, with Gazz moving to RB. At this point the ex-Pros took off Detinho, brought on lots of fresh but older legs and we started to find a lot more space with Fouad and Ariel making a big impact on the wings. Scottie was putting in a fairly lonely shift up front but was diligently closing down to prevent them playing out from the back. And then 2 goals in fairly quick succession: the first from Andy Clark after a quick free quick from left midfield put him away for a fine strike from outside the box; and then Fouad running at their defence and unleashing a great strike that was still rising as it hit the net. And so to the final quarter. Kieran C back on in a straight swap for Gazza and instructions from the Manager to dig in and grind out a win – which we duly did, no small thanks to a wonderful save from Alessio, who acrobatically tipped over the bar a well- struck volley from the edge of the box. Unfair to single out any MOM – this was a hard-fought win against a team that had a number of very decent players, including (according to their manager) 8 players who have represented HK at senior level (in the 1980s!).

As the image below shows, Scott Holmes’s tracker showed a lot of running during the game!