Clash of the Titans......crash of the Pioneers
This game had been eagerly anticipated for some weeks as the Richmond Pioneers were on a 28 match unbeaten run and the Classics had gone 20 games undefeated in the league. Their previous meeting at McMath had resulted in a 1-1 stalemate so there was everything to play for, not least pride. The Classics could not have got off to a better start on a rain soaked Sunday morning as they were a goal up within three minutes. Jim Eden fed the ball through to Billy Ranger, lurking on the left, who shot low for the bottom corner. The shot was not one of Billy’s best and the Pioneers goalkeeper Valatis somehow misjudged the speed of the ball which bounced over his hands and into the net. As the old saying goes, “There are no bad goals...they all count.”
The Classics were working hard and fighting for every ball and the confidence of the team was evident throughout the whole line up. It was 2-0 after 18 minutes when a free kick was awarded some 25 yards out. After some intelligent coaching from Dave Moore, Eden (pictured) struck the ball early and sweetly and the ball sailed over the defensive wall and into the top left angle of the goals. It was 3-0 in the 25th. minute when a left sided corner from Eden found an unmarked Ray Marrington waiting to poach at the far post. Marrington made no mistake and powered his header between a defender on the line and the right hand post. It was getting better all the time as the Classics took full control of the game and limited the Pioneers to the odd break away.
There was an incident which followed when Chuck McGill was deliberately clipped from behind by Eugene Kishmere which could have turned nasty as both players squared up. Control and sense returned and the incident was finally diffused which was a good job. Who wants to watch a flyweight match up with a heavyweight anyway?
The first half dominance was rewarded with a fourth goal five minutes from the half time whistle. Doug Smith sent a right wing centre into the danger area and Alf Deglan chested the ball down to Chris Arcari’s feet. Arcari controlled the ball and drilled it through the defence to give the Classics a 4-0 half time lead. No one could have complained had it been 6-0 at this stage on the reflection of play.
The second half began and the Classics were looking to build on the excellent performance of the first half and were determined not to let the game slip away. However, the Pioneers pulled back what was to be a consolation goal early on in the half. The goal stemmed from the “Classics resident goon”, Martin Chipperfield, who gave away a free kick on the left hand side of the penalty box. The free kick was initially cleared by Rick Geary but the ball fell to Kishmere who's jinky run ended up with a well placed goal which gave Tony Short no chance. Could the Pioneers do the impossible? No.
Geary had to leave the field injured 10 minutes into the second half and the defence had to be shuffled round but the goal was the end of the mini revival. The Classics were in no mood to concede any more goals and they continued to rule the roost. There were a few nasty incidents as both teams fought for control and a few fouls ensued but the referee handled the game well and kept the game flowing. The rout was completed near the end of the game when the Classics regained their four goal cushion. Another right wing corner from Eden fell to Arcari at the near post and he had enough time to lash the ball goalwards for his second and the Classics fifth goal. The ball took a deflection from a Pioneers defender but there was no stopping the powerful shot. Game over!
It was one of the Classics better performances of the season and the whole team deserves credit for their commitment and passion. They played as a complete unit and never looked troubled. Short had only one shot on goal. It’s unfair to single out any individual player but editorial licence is such that a special mention must be given to Jim “Comical Ali” Eden who assisted three goals and scored a cracker. Visiting player Kenny Johnston summed up the game better than our reporter could when he graciously acknowledged, “You gave us a lesson in football today.”
Match winning goal: J. Eden
Yellow card: C. Arcari
"You Were Crap" award: R. Marrington
Due to the inclement weather, the game was switched to the new artificial field at Newton Athletic Park, the first time the Pioneers have ever played on such a surface, and it showed, especially on the first goal. Not for the first time this season, the Pioneers gave up an early soft goal, a weakly hit shot that still managed to elude Pioneer keeper Dave Valitis. Soon afterwards, a refereeing call that should have been the other way resulted in a Surrey free kick 25 yards out. Although not struck particularly well, it was enough to put Surrey 2 up, and in control of the game. A third goal came following a corner kick, with the Pioneers marking dreadful. And if things couldn't get any worse, they did, and Surrey added a fourth goal before the half time break.
The Pioneers pulled a goal back in the second half when Eugene Kishmere powered through to score, and the game may have become interesting if Graham Mason had taken his time and not gone for the low percentage first time volley, after finding himself with space on the edge of the box. However, chances were few and far between for the Pioneers, and Surrey eventually re-established their four goal cushion. Once again it was from a set play, a corner kick that followed a foul on Bob Heron that the referee chose to ignore.
All excuses aside, the Pioneers were missing too many key players to seriously compete with a well-balanced Surrey Classics team that showed plenty of hustle, and far more desire than the Pioneers.
Man of the Match: Second half goalie Gary Byrne.