Panda can't bear it...........
This was not an inspired performance from an unusually lack lustre Classics team. Although they had the majority of the early pressure it was not good enough to make any impression on the Panda defence. One good chance was thwarted when a direct free kick from Jim Eden was perfectly placed at a position in the wall where Hans Erker was ‘supposed’ to duck when the shot came. Either the shot was too fast or Erker had his mind on the upcoming Germany v Czech Republic game the next day. Whatever happened, the ball blasted into Erker and rebounded to safety.
Chances were few and far between although Billy Ranger had a glorious chance to open the scoring but his header was not a textbook executed effort and instead of nestling in the net the ball flew high and wide. The teams left the field at half time honours even.
Some unusual positional switches took place in the second half with Doug Smith taking a centre midfield role and both Tom Lowe and Mike Snow making appearances at right back. Lowe was quoted that the left winger was very fast but another comment which was more to the truth was observed that he was made to look fast. With so many positional changes the team lacked shape and a couple of anonymous defenders were overheard to suggest that “The coach could have the ‘LaFarge’ subject in his contract brought into effect if this game should be lost.”
The Classics tried unsuccessfully to get the go-ahead goal but every effort was missed and it looked as if it was going to be one of those games where the team would never score. Bill McAuley wasted the best chance of the second half when he completely made a hash of an effort which looked easier to score than to miss, but that’s where his experience came into play - he missed!
Ten minutes from the end, when all looked lost, Hans Erker chipped the ball through and Larry Thorlakson headed the ball on to Bruce Cook who looked in an offside position. There were a total of three players who could have been offside but they had a quick game of “rock, paper, scissors” and the outcome was that they decided to allow Cook to put the ball in the net. Cook controlled the ball and turned swiftly. From six yards out and with acres of space Cook shot hard and low to the left of the goalkeeper to score the decisive goal. It was Cooks first goal for the team since his goal at Evergreen Park in July 1998 when the Classics came away with a 0-3 result against Meridian Arms. The other goalscorers on that night were Warren Crowley and an unknown player called Doug.
So the Classics left it late and didn’t put in the necessary effort to make it easy but credit must be given to Giant Panda who fought a hard game. Garry Hackel had only one real shot to deal with but he was still rightfully delighted with his shut-out. Panda may feel a little unlucky to leave Newton Athletic with nothing but at the end of it all, the unbeaten Classics run continues.
After the game a disgruntled Smith promised, “I’ll have to bring my white boots out nest week and show you some skill.” The white boots should look very good when they contrast with the yellow flag and the white lining on the touchline. The only remaining question to be answered was, “Was it significant that the only Italian on the team failed to turn up for this game on a day when Italy were eliminated from Euro 2004, or was it a coincidence?”
MWG: B. Cook
"You Were Crap" award: B. McAuley
Club Photographer: T. Short