Match Report: Summer Palace 0 – 0 Lao Hu Internazionale
Week 3 in the IFFC 1st Division saw Summer Palace go head-to-head with fellow title contenders Lao Hu Internazionale. As ever, the fixture was compelling for its clash of styles- The Lao Hu team boasting energy, technique and movement and Palace displaying age, experience and – as Lao Hu’s youthful ‘keeper put it – “a bunch of massive dicks”.
The match began with Palace snapping into tackles and making their presence felt; in the middle Gab and new boy, Alex were preventing Lao Hu’s central duo from perpetuating their side’s usual passing fluidity. When they did get into exciting areas, Palace’s rotating back-line of Jason Kaye, Peter, Donald, Edu and Patrick were behaving much like the girls on the youngsters’ first awkward dates, “no entry here”. Up top, perennial child abuser, Crouchy was giving their defense a torrid time with his movement and physicality, it looked like it would be only a matter of time until Rowan’s pre-match war-cry of “Make them cry” was realised.
Indeed, after 15 minutes of midfield attrition, Palace were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from goal. Despite Lao Hu’s entire schoolboy side being taller than Ben, Palace were always likely to be most dangerous from set pieces. Gab’s whipped cross to the back-post was turned goal-wards by Jason Kaye only for the ball to deflect off Lao Hu’s ‘keeper and over the bar. Like a teenager’s first clumsy fumblings in the bedroom, his success owed more to luck than judgement. The match proceeded to half-time with much the same pattern of play, Palace creating the odd half-chance and Lao Hu struggling to establish themselves in the game.
The second half commenced with the sun sapping energy from Palace’s tired legs. Lao Hu began to find their passing rhythm but were still struggling to penetrate Palace’s resolute defense. On the few occasions they cut through, they found Jason Dorey guarding his goal more stubbornly than a 16 year-old guards her v plates. While Dorey’s reflexes were frustrating Lau Hu’s strikers, Bobby’s protective refereeing was incensing Palace’s outfield. Crouchy was booked for assaulting a minor – in Crouchy’s defense the boy did put in a reckless challenge and was one of the few who had the audacity to not look petrified when Crouchy threatened to kill him, he needed to learn.
Palace tried rotating the wings in an effort to disrupt the pattern of the game and while the tactic did not create many openings it did allow Blythe to nominate himself for post-match awards by kicking his shoe further than the ball and indulging in a swing, miss and pirouette (not landed) when attempting to cross.
Though the game drew to its conclusion with Lao Hu enjoying plenty of possession but no penetration, Palace created the contest’s final chance. Crouchy held off challenges down the left channel to cross low to the near-post, Blythe’s shot was blocked by a combination of keeper and defender and the ball fell to Gab three yards out. Not usually one to show mercy to the impressionable, Gab experienced a first in his life- being kept out by a teenager’s legs.
The game may have ended in a stalemate, but Lao Hu went back to their homework and Summer Palace went to the pub – there’s victory there somewhere. Voting was an intimate affair with only 4 players present. Boosted by many text votes, Dorey and Edu shared MOM- Dorey for his saves and Edu for his huge tackle (his lady-friend is yet to confirm this rumour) – and Blythe picked up DOM. B52s led to a heavy night out for some and special mention must go to selfless acts made by FCFC players on that night: Donald, for not only knowing 4 single hot girls, but also for bringing them along to Luga’s to meet the team. And Crouchy, whose generosity knows no bounds