LX v Havant

Sunday 13th Dec 2009, at Havant College

Drawn 2-2

Following the annual Christmas meet and dinner at Abingdon, another highlight at this time of year is the second of the long running biannual fixtures with Havant.

With many of the same friendly faces regularly turning out for both sides, these games between evenly matched opponents have a reassuringly familiar feel about them, and are always a delight to play in. This particular occasion also marked the end of an era. John Davey, illustrious doyen of both clubs, ended his long reign as Havant’s match organiser, and played for LX instead, actually as Captain, and very effectively too. Many thanks to you John, for all your work over the years, and also, of course, to Mary, for those memorable steak and ale pies. (Any chance of another taste sometime?!)   

Now for the game itself, actually half an hour later than billed, so we are all properly warmed up. As usual, Peter Ross has assembled a well balanced squad, and LX are quickly into patterns of passing and movement which dominate possession and territory, allowing the midfield to orchestrate numerous penetrations into Havant’s 22. Obliged to defend in depth, sometimes with 8 or 9 men behind the ball, the home side is restricted to little more than the occasional sortie up the pitch, comfortably repelled by a composed LX defence.

Under such pressure, although no clear chances occur, there is any amount of action in and around the circle as Havant’s defence struggles to contain Bob Grenside’s trickery and the tenacity of Parmjit Bolina, (playing at centre forward as a guest replacement for Brian Tubb, who has a suspect hamstring). Short corners inevitably ensue. Parmjit and Alan Jackson combine well to set up one another, and both go close with fierce shots saved by goalkeeper David Whittle, (England and GB Team Manager, sometime in the ‘90s). Eventually, at the 4th or 5th time of asking, breakthrough at last. Keith Hunt out to John Davey, back to Keith. Fine goal from narrow angle, behind the keeper. Well done Keith!  

So, 20 minutes gone, 1-0 up and looking for more. Then things go wrong. Havant, with their key players working hard to get forward, secure a small bridgehead in our half. Bruce Christie, very much the workhorse of their team, runs the ball wide on the right and crosses powerfully from the byline. LX fail to clear and concede a short. First shot, flicked high to his left, is well saved by goalkeeper Alan Dures, but falls to Barry Bradley, who takes a touch and produces a tricky ‘Barnes Wallis’ to make it 1-1.

Back to business as usual, but, after another period of LX dominance, worse is to come. Whilst recycling through the back four, a poor touch sets up John Gleadell with a free run, and his blistering shot from the top of the ‘D’ bulges the netting beyond a hapless Alan Dures .

Half time then. Pleased with the way we’ve been playing, but knowing we have to chase the game. Despite his sore achilles, Peter Ross comes on for Parmjit, and John Davey moves to centre forward. Again we have oodles of possession, and press forward. But Havant know they’re in the guinea seats now and defend with more assurance, with no small assistance from Brian Tubb, who fancies a bit of a game after all. Wearing tracksuit bottoms, he comes on for them as sub for goalscorer Barry Bradley. No sign of hamstring trouble, as he scampers gleefully up and down their left.

Time goes by. We are still moving well as far as to their 22, but seldom penetrate much beyond that. Bruce Christie leaves the field with a muscle spasm in his back, and lies supine on a spectators’ bench. Sympathetic we are, but Havant are down to only 10, and this could be our moment. But, before we can take advantage, Bruce is back after a short rest.

For some strange reason, LX suffer a spell in the doldrums. Sloppy passes give the ball away in our half, players are caught out of position, and Havant mount several worrying attacks. Nothing goes close, but concede now and we are doomed.

And then salvation! With 10 minutes remaining, a rare short corner, this time to Sudesh Nayar. Short pass to Bob Grenside, on his right. For once he doesn’t wobble, (too tired by this time?!), and instead slips it back to Sudesh. Smooth, inside out strike past the keeper’s left kicker. Fitting reward to crown another outstanding display at centre half.

So, out of jail, and the game once more up for grabs. But by this late stage, both sides are pretty much running on vapour and have to settle for an honourable draw.

After a slightly chilly shower, we make our way down the road to Havant’s clubhouse, where a cheery scene awaits.  June Christie has prepared a delicious ‘all sorts’ savoury pie, followed by another tour de force by Anthea Ross, this time apple and mincemeat in crumbly pastry, with custard. Thank you ladies, for such sumptuous fare, and, of course, all at Havant for your generous hospitality.

 Last, but not least, our gratitude to the umpires, Ken Denness and Colin Herbert, who officiated with their customary genial authority and presided over another highly enjoyable game.   

Squad:-   Alan Dures (goal), David Read, John Longden, Austin Leaverland, Sudesh Nayar, Adrian Money, Keith Hunt, Bob Grenside, Parmjit Bolina, Alan Jackson, John Davey (Captain), Peter Ross (Match Manager)

Match Report: Adrian Money