Wednesday’s featured Intra Mural 7s football match was contested between heavyweights Giroud Boiz and Hung Like A Bony. It wasn’t the first time the two sides had faced each other this season, with Giroud Boiz coming out on top in a 1-0 win in the 5-a-side tournament last Friday, so the game was well poised. But as we all know, 7-a-side is a whole different ball game.
Having said that, there was certainly no complacency within the Giroud Boiz team. James Todd delivered an unorthodox Taylor-Swift-inspired team talk, providing both motivation and bewilderment in equal measure to those in attendance.
Referee Mr Catchpool got the game underway, and Giroud Boiz’s direct approach was evident in the first few minutes. Likewise, Hung Like A Bony immediately demonstrated their own style.
Under the direction of Jürgen Sarberry, the team implemented a high-intensity pressing tactic, embodied by defender James Clarke.
Within 56 seconds the big man had chopped down the on-rushing Todd, but the resulting free-kick was no trouble for the self-titled ‘Penalty Saving’ Moose. The subsequent 10 minutes were a brilliantly contested end-to-end encounter. Both keepers pulled off some decent saves, and a beautifully-weighted through ball from Hung Like a Bony’s Joey Barton (no relation) was cut out at the back by the Boiz’s defence.
“Giroud Boiz pushed for a goal but were mostly limited to shots from distance”
But, seconds after coming on as a substitute, Alex Caldwell teed up Andy Christie to bury home to put HLAB 1-0 up. Striker Ewan Smith doubled the lead minutes later following a delicious one-two with Christie, atoning for his previous effort on goal when he should’ve picked out a teammate instead.
With half-time fast approaching, Giroud Boiz pushed for a goal but were mostly limited to Ben Tyas shots from distance due to some robust defending. In the case of Clarke it was slightly too robust for Mr Catchpool’s liking, sending him to the sin bin for a “foul too far”.
The interval allowed both teams to tactically readjust for the second half. Unsurprisingly the HLAB team talk was simply to keep up the good work and keep defensively tight, whilst the Giroud Boiz player-coach Jim Stacey called for more intense pressing and swifter attacking when they received possession. Once the horticultural patter of Mr Catchpool had come to a welcome end, he got the game back under way.
Understandably the dynamic of the match had somewhat changed, with Hung Like A Bony seemingly willing to allow wave after wave of Giroud Boiz attack. Much like the first half, the Boiz struggled to penetrate the sturdy HLAB defence of Clarke and James Whitehead but Todd down the left wing always looked dangerous.
Half-time Boiz substitutes Sam Boot and Jim Stacey struggled to make an impact and were often second-best in the 50/50 challenges. HLAB remained a threat on the break, epitomised through a Caldwell long ball, flicked on by a Christie overhead kick, finding Smith who hit the bar.
At the other end, Tyas hit the post and several corners were well-defended. Shortly after, another long ball, this time from Barton, picked out Smith on the edge of the box. The striker superbly used the bounce to majestically lob the ball over the onrushing Ed Stanislaw in net, effectively ending the match as a contest.
When the final whistle blew, on the balance of play the best team probably won. The winning side’s debrief was rather short and sweet. When prompted, Captain Sarberry modestly stated that “we surprised ourselves”. However the not-so-modest James Clarke claimed that his team’s display was a “masterclass in counter-attacking football”.
“The striker superbly used the bounce to majestically lob the ball over the onrushing Ed Stanislaw in net, effectively ending the match as a contest”
On the other side of the pitch, the post-match analysis wasn’t so positive. Having beaten the very same opposition a week earlier, Giroud Boiz didn’t do themselves justice and the performance left something to be desired. An injury to Pedram Panahi could have been a contributing factor to the defeat, but being too slow in possession and not pressing enough were the overarching issues.
In the same vein as his pre-match team talk, James Todd believed that “at the end of the day I don’t think we managed to shake it hard enough”. That must’ve been it.