|Racecourse Ground 3G 11-a-side
|Sunninghill and Ascot, Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead, South East, England, United Kingdom
Legends 4-5 Icons
The Icons got out of the blocks quickly but the Legends fought back admirably in a Friday night thriller at the Racecourse. A match full of drama, intrigue and a nice touch of controversy was ultimately decided with the very last kick of the game; Neil Corbett had the final word, looping a thirtyyarder over a helpless Mike Tomlinson in nets to see the Icons home.
Icons out of the blocks quickly
Legends v Icons games are always enjoyable occasions. Players who know each other well get the chance to go head-to-head with local bragging rights on the line. This particular game was a late replacement for a cancelled league fixture against Bank of England and gaffer Dave Good was keen to stress that it needed to be a competitive contest. The players involved needed little invitation to see it that way.
The consensus beforehand was that on paper the Icons had the stronger side. A forward line of Ben Standing, Stuart Tanfieldand Adam Moroney had menace written all over it, whilst Andy Gleave and Tim Standing were well set behind them to provide the ammunition. Throw in a solid back line led by Jon Keough and the smart money was on the side in yellow.
Half an hour in and that money looked like it’d been well invested. Adam Moroney was proving a real handful and he broke through nicely to put the Icons one up. Tim Standing, weaving his webs nicely in the middle, doubled the advantage as the first third came to an end.
Legends’ skipper Matt Newall used the break to have a conflab with the great and the good on the bench about his team’s shape and personnel. The 3-4-1-2 that the Legends started with subsequently mutated into a 4-4-2 as Newall tried to get his side up the pitch just a little more.
It was Claudio Ranieri who was once ridiculed as the Tinkerman, but Ranieri’s record says that his tinkering generally seemed to work pretty well. The same can certainly applied to Newall; the Legends looked a different side from there on in. Loz Munns got his foot on the ball, Dave Porter purred elegantly in the middle and both Dave Simpson and particularly Toby Underwood found plenty of space on the flanks. Paul Hamblin, Dave Thompson and Zak Dimitrovskitook it in turns to offer decent options up front.
The Legends subsequently scored next, Mike Tomlinson lobbing the ball nicely into an empty net following an Icons’ defensive mix up. That was followed by Dave Simpson calmly steering in a left-footed volley following excellent work down the left and Toby Underwood curling in a gem – a la Norman Whiteside in the 1985 FA Cup Final – to put the Legends 3-2 up. How games can turn.
The Legends did nonetheless run into some problems. Keeper Lee Perry, a week away from attempting two marathons (Berlin and London) went lame and much as he gamely tried to play on he eventually admitted defeat and trudged over to the bench. Nigel Gatehouse channelled his inner Paul Cooper and replaced him, but as the game entered the final third it became clear that Gatehouse had a role to play as centre half. That led Mike Tomlinson to don the mitts and go in goal for the remainder of the game.
To be fair to them, both Gatehouse and Tomlinson did very well, but neither could stop the Icons drawing level, Jon Keough powering home a booming header from what looked suspiciously like a pre-planned corner routine.
With time running out, the Legends again went forward, pressing hard for what many thought might end up being a decisive fourth goal. Adam Abusweder saw lots of the ball on the left, and he was involved in the move that saw Paul Hamblin go crashing down to earth in the penalty box. “Penalty”, the massed hordes on the terraces cried. The referee, who had a very good game, agreed …. only for the linesman to draw his attention to an off-side in the build up. One for everyone to take a close look at on Match of the Day on Saturday evening.
Hamblin, however, was not going to be denied, and he it was who neatly tucked the ball past Rich Harrison to claim the game’s seventh goal. Game over? Far from it. As the clock ticked down the Icons broke impressively, and a nice passing move saw Phil White race clear to neatly tuck the ball past Tomlinson. 4-4.
That surely would be it for the scoring? No. The Icons launched one last raid down the left and Neal Corbett, a man who’d been in impressive form all evening, got the ball 30 yards out. He saw yellow bodies in the box and looked to ping the ball in the direction of them. That plan didn’t quite work out and the ball ended up sailing nicely over poor Tomlinson in nets before landing neatly in the far corner. There are, as Corbett noted afterwards, no pictures available when the scores are read out on the videprinter and a goal is a goal is a goal. 5-4 it ended.
A Legends v Icons encounter wasn’t originally on the calendar for this week, but, as ever, the affair lived up to all expectations; competitive and combative, with plenty of good football on show. Bring on the start of the league campaign next week!