L.O.B. vs N.N.D. – Keep Playin’

Keep Playin'
The latest third-person account of my weekly attempt to play eight-a-side football – we wear grey… Keep playin’

The Greys have a few key players missing tonight, forcing them to adopt a makeshift – and very short – back three. And of course, their yellow-kitted opposition, N.N.D., have a giant up front with legs like tree trunks. Two stand-ins, Roman and Alex, make up the numbers and it’s game on.

The Greys start well. Forwards Karim and Ahmed turn N.N.D. inside out, leaving them kicking at shadows like Joleon Lescott. Thomas gets the ball inside the box and hits the post. Ahmed and Karim combine well but can’t get the ball past the keeper.

Then N.N.D. show some teeth, knocking long balls to their giant forward. Luckily, he’s slow, with feet like concrete. But he’s got a shot on him. The Greys get an early warning when N.N.D.’s right winger rolls a neat ball into the box and Hulk rattles the crossbar. Then five minutes later the Yellows do the exact same thing. Only this time Hulk finds the back of the net. One nil Yellows.

N.N.D. have a few playmakers in midfield, who are always looking for the long pass or defense-splitting through ball. But defenders Theo, Paolo and Adam get the job done – it ain’t pretty but they keep the Yellows at bay. The Greys go into half-time 1-0 down, but still looking the better of the two sides.

They start the second half well. And stand-in Frenchman Alex makes a good replacement for missing Greys midfielder Manu, holding the ball up well and nimbly spreading the play. Frustrated, N.N.D. dive in, making some pretty dangerous lunges that the Greys do well to sidestep.

The ref does nothing to calm things down and protect the players (on both sides). Instead, he focusses on foul throws, blowing for them inconsistently – and seemingly randomly. Meanwhile, the Greys throw caution to the wind, switching to two at the back and going for the win.

Suddenly, Greys keeper Yusuf spots Karim giving him the eyes and punts a precise long ball that finds him open on the left wing. Karim crosses the ball into the box and Ahmed times his run perfectly. He shoots straight at N.N.D.’s keeper, who does well to keep it out. But Ahmed reacts first and tucks the rebound in to level the score.

The Greys continue to play ugly, effective football, and to be honest, they seem the most likely to sneak the winning goal. Just before the end, with a draw seeming the most likely result, Karim rides a tough tackle on the halfway line and slips into beast mode.

He charges down the left wing, beats three players on his own and smashes the ball past N.N.D.’s keeper to win the game 2-1. Think Rocky II; both teams bloody but the Greys getting back up on their feet just before the ten count.

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