Giant Panda were the visitors to Newton on a cold February morning and the Classics were out of the starting gate from the off. The first move of the match ended with Rick Geary shooting tamely at the Panda keeper. In the third minute a long throw from Mike Snow resulted in a defender kicking the ball out for a corner and the resulting corner from Jim Eden ended when Chas Jones shot the ball into the area but the keeper used little or no effort to collect the ball.
In the sixth minute a powerful left foot (what else) Eden shot was blocked for another corner which Eden took himself. The corner sailed to the back post and a rising Geary would have finished his header off better had he possessed a little more hair on the top of his head. It was one way traffic with the Panda defence happy to keep booting the ball anywhere out of danger. The constant pressure paid off in the eighth minute when Billy Ranger scored with a close range shot into the top right hand corner of the net. It was just reward for the barrage of efforts that the Classics were putting in. Panda ventured forward for their first attack in the ninth minute but Manny Soucker was not really tested with the effort. Ranger had another chance to increase the lead minutes later but this time his accuracy deserted him.
A fine left wing move on the quarter hour mark left Geary with the ball who threaded it through for Chris Arcari. Arcari made no mistake with a simple side foot past the goalie to put the Classics two goals to the good. Two minutes later Geary, having an outstanding game, fed Ranger this time and Ranger notched his second and the team's third goal. The Panda defence had more holes than my dads old string vest and the Classics were taking full advantage. In the 22nd. minute a good right wing run from Doug Smith resulted in Arcari being put through yet again but this time his shot was saved. The Classics used their extra bodies to good effect and the fresh legs (if you can call 50 year old plus legs such) made a significant difference. Panda were trying to play their close control type game but the Classics midfield would not allow them to get into their stride.
The second half saw Chuck McGill moved up in the unfamiliar role of center forward and it took him just two minutes to get on the scoresheet. Although the general concensus was that his shot was a toe-punt, McGill insisted that it was an orchestrated rocket! However, the Classics were 4 goals to the good and it would need snookers now if Panda were to get anything out of this game. Minutes later a cross goal backpass was chased by McGill and he beat the keeper to the ball in a photo finish but his effort hit the post and bounced to safety. Unfortunately, McGill had to retire from the game after another shot as his arch had fallen. He limped off the field. How is it that every time he goes up front and scores he gets injured and has to leave the field?
In the 49th. minute John Wilson sent a wonderful through ball for Snow, who likewise put the ball though for Bill McAuley to run onto. McAuley galloped away from the trailing defenders and finished powerfully but with aplomb. You have to go back over 12 monthe to remember the last time that the Classics hit five goals. It came in a 6-2 win at Delta United on that bitterly cold day last February. In the 53rd. minute a Wilson rocket hit the underside of the bar, bounced down on the line (does this sound familiar) and was kicked away. This time however, the neutral Dutch referee waved play on as there was no linesman to confirm that the ball had crossed the line. It was still one way traffic, so much so that Fisher Crockett even ventured up for a shot which grased the crossbar.
Whether it was frustration or not, the Panda team started to resort to intimidation and tried to out-muscle the Classics. Not a very wise move on their behalf as the Classics will not be intimidated or out-muscled. Legs were swinging relentlessly as if the Panda were chasing shadows. The referee should have taken hold of the niggles and stopped it before it started as it began to get out of hand. Eden, not usually reknown for retaliation, had a go back after he had been hacked and the referee issued a 10 minute cooling off period. Unlike last week the 'sweet talking guy' approach didn't work. He tried to calmly explain to the referee that he should have clamped down earlier but his appeals resulted in a red card which meant that he would miss the remaining 15 minutes of the game. Alfie Deglan took a long range shot on goal but it missed slightly and instead went for a throw in.
The play was becoming dangerous as the game was petering out and a Panda player was then sent off for dangerous play. No wonder they are becoming an endangered species! Two minutes from time Ray Marrington went across to tackle the left winger but his innocuous challenge left the winger gasping for breath, looking unconscious and obviously in much pain. Marrington did nothing wrong, it was just a bad fall. After consideration the referee decided to call a halt to the play as the player was helped off, his legs wobbling like jelly. It was a sad end to the game and put a damper on a great performance from the Classics. The after match entertainment in the dressing room we led by McGill who has now perfected his Joe Cocker (or is that Joe Cock-up) impersination to a tee.
Final Score 5-0 (3-0)
MWG: B. Ranger
Red Card; J. Eden
You were crap: A. Deglan