It’s a new year and the Greys need to jump start their season, fast, if there’s any chance of them winning the league. Tonight they face bottom-of-the-table Anon, who they beat 7-1 last time round. This time, however, the red shirts seem reinforced. Taller. Better. Stronger. Faster. And early on it’s one way traffic, as the Greys struggle to shake off their New Year’s blues.
But with centre-back Julien in charge, the Greys ride the storm. And midway through the first half they spring to life, conjuring a goal out of nothing. Wing-back Adam winds up for a throw-in just inside the Red’s half and finds Big Rob outside the box. Still, it doesn’t look threatening, until Rob chests the ball, muscles his man out of the way and whacks it, beating Anon’s keeper at his near post.
Soon afterwards Greys forward Martin wins the ball on the halfway line. He ghosts past his man and lays the ball off to winger Karim, who seemingly dribbles his way through the entire Anon defence, before smashing a cross low and hard into the box. Greys striker Alex dives in foot first at the back post, finishing off a fine team goal. The kind of stylish goal Arsene Wenger might watch at home over a nice bottle of red, some Bob Marley playing gently in the background.
Optimistically, the Greys go into the break 2-0 up, knowing that a clean-sheet would secure all three points. The whistle blows, and this time, the Greys don’t waste a second. Rob finds himself one on one with the keeper rushing out. He tries to dink the ball over him but misses the target. Then Karim breaks down the left wing and hits a thunderbolt from way out. But the ball hits the post and the keeper collects.
Playing in running shoes, a puffy vest jacket and a beanie, Anon’s keeper plays like a makeshift goalie. His saves aren’t pretty, yet somehow, he’s always there, sticking out a foot, a hand, a knee, a shoulder, like Mr. Fantastic. And eventually, the Greys’ frustration starts to show. Their concentration waivers and Anon sneak in a few chances. A stinging shot is turned wide by Greys keeper Yusuf. A free kick is floated in and narrowly misses the target. Greys left-back Theo snuffs out a good chance on the edge of the box. And Julien throws himself into headers, doing his best to hang onto the Greys’ clean sheet.
It looks like Anon are on their way back, until Martin picks up the ball deep inside Red territory and finds Karim in the box. He fires the ball on goal, but again, Anon’s keeper sticks out a foot and blocks it. Luckily, the rebound goes straight to Karim, and he doesn’t waste his chance this time. 3-0 Greys.
Karim runs off and celebrates like a man who thought he’d never score again. The whistle blows and it’s a great reboot for the Greys, who face title contenders Haggerston Park this Friday. And if they win their two games in hand, they’ll be two points behind league leaders Copa ’90.