Back in November the first attempt at playing this game ended three-quarters of the way through with South losing by a goal as the weather attempted to sweep the Ivo Astroturf away. So we got to try again, as did Odin, who, having seen Thor have partial success now turned to Skadi to try and freeze us out instead.
The two teams were made of stern stuff though, and with only base layers, gloves, tracksuits, sweatshirts and hats to ward off the chill, we ventured cautiously out to the pitch. A good warm-up later and reluctant removal of all non-playing kit later, the game started. Perhaps it was the extended preparation, but we started the game decently this week, with both teams probing away for an opening.
St. Ives had a pair of handy looking young forwards and also a very useful ‘more experienced’ player driving through the middle, but our defence handled them well in the earlier going, with Nelson not having too much to do in the first 20 minutes or so. Not that the Saints ‘keeper was being kept particularly busy either, as we made only a handful of circle penetrations in the first half. There were a couple of good chances from these though, JJ flashing a flick just wide from a shortie and George’s barnstorming run from left back dragging the home defence out of shape, allowing some first time passing that ended with the ball flashing across the face of goal for want of the decisive touch.
As the half went on we got forced a bit deeper. Dave would commented after the that a heat map of the game would probably glow the brightest between halfway and our 25, which sounds about right. That pressure was leading to chances, and twice in the dying minutes of the half balls needed clearing off our line. Nelson had half-blocked the first, giving Jan time to compose himself before sweeping clear (the ball may not actually have reached the goal!) but the second was more spectacular/luckier: a second shot from a short corner flicked at knee height coming flush off the defensive stick and away for a long corner.
The Saints kept pressing after the break as we tried to play on the counter but were finding the connection between midfield and attack elusive. Our backline faced a number of penalty corners, but managed to either smother each or benefit from malfunctions in the hosts routine. It looked like we might hold on for a draw, up until some hesitation after we had committed a foul and were expecting a whistle against was well exploited by the Saints forward, who collected the loose ball, stepped into the top of the circle and neatly found the far corner.
If we could keep it close there was a chance of the home side dropping back in the last few minutes, concerned about being mugged of two points. Which is almost what happened. The last five were certainly our best spell of territory and possession of the match, but the closest we came to leveler was John G’s snap-shot, which flashed across the face of goal.