After four hard fought games, two heavyweights from the Intra Mural 7s league locked horns in a hotly-anticipated encounter.
Although they sat three places (and three points) off their opposition, the Kanes went into the match in high spirits having demolished Puyol Pants Down last week. In contrast, the African representatives had lost last Wednesday to rivals Giroud Boiz, so the team needed no motivation coming into this game.
However, the odds were stacked against them. With only seven men, and an absent coach due to a stadium ban, the match was going to be tough for them. Due to several injuries and work commitments, (and no investment in the team from owner Bill Kenwright), it doesn’t look like there’ll be many additions to the current squad in the coming transfer window.
“it was the Toast that pressed early on. In the old-fashioned roaming midfield role, Jack McCall was reminiscent of Super Frankie Lampard on and off the ball”
Whilst the Toast may have some financial issues, there were no such worries for the Hurrikanes. Boasting a squad of nine, the club seem to have their act together. They were even all wearing the same colour. That’s real organisation. And they were hoping this professionalism would be reflected on the pitch.
Yet it was the Toast that pressed early on. In the old-fashioned roaming midfield role, Jack McCall was reminiscent of Super Frankie Lampard on and off the ball. And it was McCall who had the first chance, being well tipped over the bar by keeper Nick Downing in the Kanes goal.
To change the balance of the match, Hurrikanes made their two substitutions within five minutes of kick-off, but the pressure didn’t relent. McCall opened the scoring minutes later, sending the ball in via an unlucky Emmerson deflection.
“Hurrikanes made their two substitutions within five minutes of kick-off, but the pressure didn’t relent”
Although Kanes’ Jonny Stephenson saw his long-range effort just go past the post, Toast continued to dominate. Winger Pat Lane shot just wide, seconds before Kieran Harrison sent the ball into the neighbouring field.
Besides Stevenson continuing to probe down the wing, Hurrikanes’ chances were limited by some very robust defending. A double tackle from Ivory Toast’s Matt Harrison led to a foul by Kanes’ David Geary on McCall, but Harrison wasn’t able to get enough accuracy on his powerful free kick strike.
After Lane hit another wide when clean through, Kanes’ Dylan Hyatt ventured forward and displayed quicker feet than Anton Du Beke to dance past a number of Ivorian defenders. Despite the move coming to nothing, the Hurrikanes grew in confidence and attacked again. This time a shot from George Stannett was smartly saved by Dimitri Psarianos and the rebound was missed by Will Finnie.
“The opening exchanges were scrappy, with possession being turned over a number of times”
In response, Toast’s Matt Harrison found Kieran Harrison but he was unable to control the ball. Desperate to build on the momentum, swift attacking play from Lane and Kieran Harrison allowed Matt Lakin to double the team’s lead.
Having had time to regroup at the half-time break, Hurrikanes looked to take the impetus after the restart. The opening exchanges were scrappy, with possession being turned over a number of times. Key blocks and interceptions from Matt Harrison and McCall kept the Kanes at bay, and on the counter attack a well-developed move was broken up by Emmerson.
Following a misplaced pass from McCall in the deep-lying regista role, Kanes’ Geary had a chance to pick out Finnie but his pass was misguided. Then a powerful Nick Downing header found Geary on the edge of the box, but was closed down well by Lakin.
Two crosses from Lane found nobody in the area, but yet another challenge from Matt Harrison lead to some great build-up play. Kieran Harrison, Nick Goldring and McCall knocked the ball about quickly but a tackle from Finnie allowed Kanes to counter. Finnie found Geary who was dispossessed by Matt Harrison, but after some hard graft, Finnie turned over possession again to fire past Psarianos.
Toast reacted well, with Lakin pushing the team forwards. Kieran Harrison in the false-9 role was causing all sorts of problems, including a cheeky chip being saved when put through. Emmerson then conceded a free kick after a slide challenge but Harrison wasn’t able to convert. However, the ball came back out to Lakin who saw a speculative effort bounce back off the bar and cleared.
Hurrikanes were largely frustrated by the Ivorian’s defence, with Downing taking his anger out on the rubber turf after being substituted. A wonder-ball from Lakin then set up Kieran Harrison to strike on the volley but a dramatic save from Stannett was enough to deny the Toast’s frontman.
“It was at this point that the Kanes’ body language showed that they’d given up”
As Kanes tried to break downfield, Matt Harrison’s clearance allowed McCall to shoot. Stannett saved well onto the post but Kieran Harrison clinically converted the chance on the rebound. It was at this point that the Kanes’ body language showed that they’d given up.
Subsequent woeful efforts from Geary and McCall were characteristic of the tiredness of the players. After the final goal went in, the ref brought the game to a close, referring to the encounter as “vintage football”. I quite agree.
Key player and manager for the day Jack McCall had claimed “it was imperative that we put in a good performance for our absent manager, Sir Stephen Lennox. We’ve got to remain consistent because these next two games are must-wins.” Wise words. McCall added, “The Toast is on fire.” He’s not wrong. Due to their loss to Giroud Boiz, Ivory Toast will have to beat league leaders, Hung Like A Bony, in the final match of the season to finish in the top two.