L.O.B. vs Anonymous – Keep Playin’

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

Predictably, the Greys’ are sporting a few French-shaped holes in their line-up as they prepare to take on Anonymous. France, of course, is an hour away from kicking off Euro 2016 against Romania at the Stade de France. And it’s a Friday. And it’s an 8:00pm kick-off. In truth, the Greys are struggling. Luckily, Adam rounded up a few ringers earlier in the day and it was game on. Russian roulette or not.

The Greys have been on a decent run lately, and victory tonight could see them climb as high as third in the league. Impressively, French midfielders Manu and Thomas did turn up. They’re joined by Rob, Adam, keeper Yusuf and Adam’s mates Mike, Rob 2 and Sam. The game also marks the long-awaited return of founding team member and former Greys regular Paul.

Straight away it’s clear that Adam’s mates Mike and Rob 2 can play. Mike’s a mountain in defence, crunching Anonymous forwards with well-timed tackles and driving things forward down the right flank. Rob 2, on the other hand, holds the ball up well up front, turning and firing stinging shots at Anonymous’ goal relentlessly. In truth, both players add what the Greys have been missing; a stronger, taller, more aggressive physical presence. And it doesn’t take long for them to make an impact.

Ten minutes in, Mike launches a running throw-in that flashes through the box dangerously, before finding original Rob unmarked at the back post. Rob 1 doesn’t waste the opportunity, drilling it into the top left corner and putting the Greys 1-0 up. Next, Rob 2 holds the ball up on the right-hand side of the box, waiting for the perfect moment to roll it across goal towards Thomas, who thumps it in. Two nil Greys.

Minutes later, Rob 2 gets the ball again in a similar position, this time passing the ball into the path of Greys midfielder Manu. Keeping his cool, Manu wraps his foot around the ball and finds the top corner. Three nil. Crazy. What’s going on? But in truth, the Greys could have scored a few more before the half.

The ref blows the whistle for the second half and then sends player-coach Thomas off for not telling him that he’d made a substitution. Every other time you ask him he goes, “One on. One off. Get on with it!” Usually, it’s not even something he seems mildly interested in. Strange.

Seizing their moment, Anonymous launch their first serious attack on goal, but Yusuf dives to his left and keeps it out. A few minutes later, an Anonymous forward hits the post. Then the same player finds himself in space and fires a shot just over the middle of the crossbar. It seems like just a matter of time, but the Greys hold out.

Suddenly, Adam rides a hard tackle deep in Anonymous territory, turns his man and lays the ball off to Manu. This time Manu finds the bottom right corner, placing the ball perfectly, beyond the diving keeper’s reach. At this point the Greys hit the snooze button, switching off and letting Anonymous claw their way back into the game. At least mentally.

Finally, Anonymous do get one back. Obscured by a wall of defenders, Yusuf has no chance against a long-range shot from outside the box, and the Greys’ lead is cut to 4-1. But then our heroes kick things into overdrive, with ringer Sam coming into his own at left back thanks to a series of neat tackles and danger-clearing dummies and step-overs. He finds himself in space close to the left corner flag and knocks in a high looping cross that beats everyone, including the panicked, retreating Anonymous keeper, and drops into the top right corner.

Almost immediately after that, Anonymous’ keeper kicks the ball straight at Rob 2. Big mistake. Rob 2 controls the ball. Takes his time. And buries the chance, drilling the ball past the desperate keeper with venom and power; 6-1 Greys. To wrap things up, Sam seems to run the entire length of the pitch down the left flank. He cuts in and beats the last defender, and the keeper, and rolls the ball towards Adam, who taps it into the empty net to complete the Greys’ impressive 7-1 win. Encouragingly, it could have been even more…

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