It was a very depleted Classics team that wended it's way down to sunny Aldergrove for another clash of the giants match. With the absence of players for a variety of reasons, the visitors took the field with eleven men, just enough to constitute a full team. The last time these two teams met back in November, Aldergrove ran out lucky 1-0 winners after a scrappy goal gifted them by the Classics keeper Garry Hackel just ten minutes from the end of a well fought tussle.
The Classics got a dream start in the fifth minute when a very agile Billy Ranger broke away from the pack after turning a player inside out twice, and ran half the length of the field to hammer an unstoppable Howitzer past the home keeper who could just watch in amazement. It was a wonderful strike, one which would grace any stadium in the world. The ideal start after an unnerving and cautious first few minutes.
Aldergrove tried to come back immediately but the Classics were not allowing them much room to do anything with some good tackling from all areas of the field. The visitors were awarded a free kick on the right hand edge of the penalty box in the 15th. minute and Jim Eden stepped up as he 'fancied it'. His shot beat the defending wall and bounced just before the keeper at the near post. The goalmouth was a mass of dirt and totally devoid of grass so the keeper went to gather the ball but it got fumbled and slowly trickelled over the line to the delight of the Classics players and supporters. By this time Chas Jones had arrived (not like him to be late!) to join youth player Chuck McGill on the touchline. McGill was just visiting and was unfortunately unable to display his fairy-like touches with the ball.
On the half hour the Aldergrove persistence paid off for them with a gem of a goal. It was well struck from 12 yards and gave Hackel not a hope of stopping it. Five minutes later the home side were level after a left wing attack resulted in the winger easily slipping past Ray Marrington and sending a hard low cross into the box parallel with the goal-line but three yards out. The valient attempts of the defenders and the keeper failed to stop the onrushing attacker from sliding in to hammer the ball into the back of the net. Jimmy Butler was having dreadful luck and a good chance five minutes from the half should have put the visitors back in front, but Butler was unlucky yet again after another good effort. The score remained at 2-2 at the half.
The half time thoughts were more about sustaining the onslaught and wondering if the Classics players had the legs to see out the second half than planning the downfall of the opposition. However, the second half kicked off with much the same effect as the first half with another early goal and again one in favour of the Classics. A long range shot by Bill McAuley five minutes into the half caught the home keeper napping. He came across for the save like a hippy on acid trying to catch flowers and he let the high ball slip through his hands for an easy goal, but one which McAuley had described as a 'rocket'.
A delightful through ball from Alfie Deglan in the 55th. minute set Butler off on a run towards the danger area. This time Butler made no mistakes as he blasted home a goal, that he had fully deserved, past the helpless keeper to give the Classics the advantage once again. Five minutes later Butler was on hand again with a one-on-one with the goalie. This time he had to watch agonisingly as his chip shot sailed over the keeper and went inches wide of the far post.
In the 60th. minute, and with most of the Aldergrove team camped out in the Classics half of the field, another Deglan through ball from the half-way line put the 'man of the moment' Butler away on another of his runs. He was having that many runs that he must have had prunes for his breakfast. This time his run resulted in the chasing pack of Aldergrove players almost giving up the ghost. They had tired and left him to run in unhampered to score the Classics fifth goal and help seal a memorial win for the boys in blue.
After playing the game with just one sub, it was a credit to the Classics to come away with such a resounding win. Aldergrove are no push-overs and this game brought out the best in character from the team. Every player did his part and run his heart out for the team. Such victories have to be earned and the Classics deserved high praise for the way that they approached the battle.
The forwards worked their socks off, the midfield were like terriers at the heels of the hosts. Try as they may in the second half, and Aldergrove huffed and they puffed but they couldn't blow anything down because the Classics had built their defence out of brick. It's hard to single out players in a performance like this but keeper Hackel rose to the occasion, was pumped the whole match, and was always in the right place at the right time to make some difficult shots look like easy saves. After the game, even the hot dog venders did their best and fully deserved a share of the spoils.
Final Score 2-5 (2-2)
MWG: B. McAuley
You were crap award: J. Butler