Six goal feast after the Christmas pudding......
It was a case of dusting off the Christmas cobwebs and getting back down to the business of playing football again. It couldn’t have come much tougher with a home game against Aldergrove #1 as the opener to the second half of the season. The tone for the game was set as early as the second minute when Chuck McGill clashed heavily with the Aldergrove #8 in a situation which could have resulted in a cooling off period for both players but escaped any punishment other than a free kick for the Classics.
With Garry Hackel gone for his annual siesta in Mexico, the Classics had to rely on stand-in keepers once again. Not relishing the thought, Chas Jones stepped into the breach for the first half and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net. As early as the fifth minute an Aldergrove attack resulted in Rick Geary heading powerfully out of defence. Unfortunately the ball cannoned off an Aldergrove attacker’s head and into the net past the despairing dive of Jones. No-one was more surprised than the Aldergrove team but it was a cruel blow for the Classics.
Five minutes later it was 1-1 when a move, started in midfield from Jim Eden, was carried out to Ray Marrington who was poaching down the right wing. His centre was perfectly placed over the keeper to a waiting Billy Ranger at the far post. Ranger made the task look simple as he headed down and into the net for the equaliser. After twenty minutes Aldergrove were back in front when a long through ball caught the Classics defence square. An Aldergrove attacker carried the ball through and easily beat Jones with a low drive to the keeper’s right hand. On the half hour mark Aldergrove got another after McGill was beaten and the resulting move saw the shot bounce off Alfie Deglan to a waiting Aldergrove player who had the simple task of side-footing the ball home.
At 1-3 down with half an hour gone it was looking ominous for the Classics and they could have easily capitulated and ended their unbeaten league run. However, the Classics were creating chances and Arcari and Ranger were both guilty of missing easy efforts. A header from Arcari looked like it was easier to score than miss, but he did the latter. Marrington made a powerful run into the box in the fortieth minute and was unceremoniously hacked down by an Aldergrove defender which resulted in a penalty. Arcari stepped up and placed a nice shot into the bottom left corner to register his first goal for the Classics since his return to the team.
With time ticking away in the first half Ranger (pictured) took it on himself to try a spectacular shot from 25 yards out. He turned and unleashed a rocket which sailed delightfully into the top right corner of the net. The Aldergrove keeper was so taken by surprise that he hardly moved. It was the goal of the game and deservedly brought the Classics back into it. The first half was littered with niggling fouls and with players going down like nine-pins but the referee managed to keep the game flowing and nothing got too much out of hand. Both teams left for the half-time break knowing that they had been involved in a game.
The second half was a different story as both teams tightened up their games and a lot of the play was taking place in the centre of midfield. Ten minutes from the end of the game Fisher Crockett took a throw in and foolishly played the ball back to Tony Short who played the second half in the nets. Short inexplicably picked up the throw in and gave away a free kick in a dangerous position in the six yard box near the dead ball line. Fortunately Aldergrove did not take full advantage and the ball was cleared but it still contributed to a nail-biting last few minutes. Short had previously made a great save after Rick Geary had hesitated, Short hesitated too but eventually he slid out to make a fine save and clear the danger.
The result was brought about by a good all round team performance. The Classics defence played well with the twin towers dominating most of the play and both playing with an aggressive attitude. In midfield, Arcari and Deglan deserve special mention for their non stop effort whilst up front Marrington and Ranger were always a threat. The Classics could look at this game and see it as a game they should have won. No-one could have argued if the Classics had gone in at the half with a 6-3 lead but chances have to be taken and some important ones were missed. In the end, both teams were happy to settle for a share of the spoils. This game will be continued at a later date!