Oi Futo 1, Sat 17th Feb. Throw enough sh!t at a wall and some of it will stick, as the old adage goes. This was obviously an approach that the Embassy had chosen to adopt on Saturday as they squared up to Zion FC in the first round of the Plate Competition. And when the final whistle finally sounded and the last of the Oifuto dirt had settled they had amassed an impressive haul of four goals to Zion’s one. However, there was certainly a lot of sh!t flung at the Zion goal in the process.
In a game of impressive attacking play, the Embassy managed to create a multitude of chances and managed to miss the target in a multitude of ways. Indeed the four goals amassed looks a little less impressive when taking into account that one was an own goal and the first was, well shall we say, fortuitous?
When these two teams met in the League earlier in the year Mark Smith had a goal controversially disallowed for offside when he bent a long range free kick over the crowded box and into the net. And so it was with a certain karmic justice that he got on the score sheet here in almost identical circumstances. The free kick was awarded a long way out from the Zion goal and Mark sent a dangerous ball into the area. In fact, so dangerous was this ball that none of the BEFC players in the box made contact with it. Thrown by this tactic of missing the ball completely, the Zion defense and keeper could only watch as the ball sailed, uninhibited into the net. Or perhaps the BEFC players were performing a series of ‘dummies’ and applying offensive pressure. It depends on who you talk to. Either way, a goal is a goal and serves to highlight how the Embassy will miss Mark Smith’s ability with the deadball when he leaves us later in the month. (Along with his crunching challenges, keen positional sense, gob and countless other attributes.)
The goal opened up the game a bit and both teams began to start stringing passes together, each probing for an opening in the opposing defence. And so the first volley of misses was unleashed at the Zion…well, if not exactly goal, then in that general area. Shots were hit high. Shots were hit wide. High and wide. Low and wide. Straight at the keeper… The encouraging thing was that the Embassy’s midfielders, wingers and forwards were combining well, creating chances, getting plenty of shots off and some of that shit would have to stick eventually, right?
The obvious pace of the Zion attack always looked dangerous on the break and as a result the Embassy were defending much deeper than their counterparts. It was by exploiting this space behind the Zion defense that the second goal eventually came. Winger Simon Collier was found out wide on the left. He wriggled free of the attentions of the defending full back and crossed deep into the box. Under pressure from the Embassy forwards an unlucky defender turned the ball into his own net. They all count and it was a very good cross.
The shots continued to fly and the Zion attack continued to run at the Embassy defense and at this point I have to admit that the game goes a bit hazy for your correspondent as a stupid challenge I was never going to win left me flat on my back with a bump on my head. Please forgive any factual inaccuracies but I saw out the rest of the half in something of a daze (hey, I have an excuse this time!)
Before the half time whistle there was time for the Embassy to finally score a goal they meant. Eddie had been a constant threat throughout the half, running with pace and determination that would be impressive for a teenager let alone a man of … yes. Using that electric pace to full effect he latched onto a neat through ball by Steve Lidbury and, catching the stranded keeper in two minds, poked the ball into the corner of the net.
So, half time, three-nil up, second half should be a breeze, right? Well, no as it turns out because, much to the Embassy’s collective surprise, Zion refused to roll over and die and instead started the second half full of attacking intent. The ball started pinging around between the Zion players and the Embassy began looking well off the pace.
Indeed before the Embassy had got themselves back into the game after the half time oranges goal keeper Keith was picking the ball out of his own net after a defensive misunderstanding left a Zion attacker unmarked in the box. The move had begun in Zion’s own half but a series of quick, sharp passes had the Embassy on the back foot. The runner with the ball went right, as did three defenders and went the ball was centred the Zion striker left Keith with no chance. (Lest the forth defender be thought of as exempt from guilt it should be mentioned that he me was badly out of position, chasing several meters behind having got carried away on the last Embassy attack.)
The obvious Embassy response to the Zion goal was to descend into in-fighting, blaming chucking and rash challenges. Indeed for the following ten-minute spell it looked as if the Embassy would be, if not only complicit then down right conspiratorial (sorry the Thesaurus fell open on the ‘C’s) in their own self-destruction. However, as calm returned so, little by little, the Embassy took back control of the game with the central midfielders especially working hard and soon the misses started flying again. Increasingly defenders called Tim could be seen in the Zion half, eager to get in on the whole ‘shooting off target’ business. Tim Letheren involved himself in some in-the-box antics and Full back Tim Marchand managed to drag a shot well wide from the edge of the area after a neat lay off from Eddie. (Yes it was a shot, not a cross, not a cross-shot, a shot.)
The final goal came from Eddie who had continued to menace in the second half as he had in the first. Forwards Silvano and Steve combined in attack and when the ball broke in the area Eddie beat the keeper to it and fired a low shot into the corner again. And that, pretty much, was that. Zion never gave up and were still running at the Embassy back four right up until the final whistle but ultimately it was the Embassy that flung the most shit and therefore had the most stick.
Which brings me to the final incident that must be mentioned. Shortly before Eddie’s second goal came the finest fling of them all. Silvano, the Italian powerhouse, muscled his way into the area and, from the edge of the six yard box and with the goal at his mercy managed to get the ball not only over the bar but also perfectly between the rugby posts behind. If only they gave points for style…
Report by Tim Marchand