Of course I’m referring to the 6-a-side league team I’ve been playing for over the last few weeks. The team has been on a bit of a losing streak lately and really needed a win. It’s not that they’ve (or we’ve) played badly, it’s just that more often than not the other teams have edged it at the finish. With the captain home sick we had to make up the numbers again and it worked out pretty well.
We were playing the third top team in the league but as we were warming up I wasn’t intimidated. For starters none of them could match my ball juggling skills! Another star striker Kristian was drafted in and as we were knocking the ball around and having shots I felt pretty good about our chances (despite the fact that I’ve consistently felt that way since I started playing with them). Anyway, as soon as the whistle went and we kicked off we were all over them. We scored first and just weren’t giving them a chance to play at all. Our passing was crisp and safe (i.e. no Hollywood passes). I didn’t think too much about where I was playing, I just looked to get the ball and if we didn’t have the ball I’d just look for any gaps in our defence and try to fill them.
We finished the first half level at 3-3 and we shouldn’t have let them score at all, but we were going to make amends for that. But come the second half we really put the hammer down. We tackled well, passed well, had plenty of chances and really rattled the other team who resorted to shouting at each other for slacking around. We won in the end quite comfortably and it never felt throughout the whole match that we’d lose and I’m sure the rest of the team felt the same.
It was Kristian’s turn to score the hat-trick, although with his shooting precision he should really have scored a double-hat-trick (except he chose to humiliate their defenders with some silky drag-backs instead). I got a few assists (i.e. the pass that puts the guy through to score) and managed to score a totally outrageous goal that I can only describe as lucky (beating three men and then lashing in from distance into the bottom corner – nobody was more surprised than me when it went in).
Anyway, we didn’t win because of a star striker. Or solid defending. Or quality play-making from the middle of the park. Or hard tackling in the midfield. Or good closing down of their players. We won because of all of the above and more. It was a team effort. Everybody played well, we communicated well, defended as a team, attacked as a team, didn’t panic or do anything stupid. We passed around when we needed to, challenged hard when we had to and tried to score when we should have. It was great and felt a million times better than having a good game personally but losing. We just need to make sure we win next week and get a bit of a streak going.
One piece of typically amusing irony came in the first half where Chris skied the ball out of the pitch with his first shot on goal and I jokingly said “you want to keep your head down Chris” (you tend to sky the shot when you are leaning back, keeping your head down makes you lean forwards). True to form a couple of minutes later I had a similar shot on the other side and yep, you guessed it, I skied it out of the pitch and straight into the upper stratosphere. Sod’s law that.