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AS EFFIAT v 3rd XI 13th DECEMBER 2009
This is probably the match of the season for Pionsat's 3rd XI. These two clubs are bumping along the bottom of the table and are desperate for points. Whoever wins this match will put daylight between themselves and the opposition so it's a real basement six-pointer.
And so I got to Effiat, which is miles away from here somewhere near Aigueperse, at about 12:45 to find the place totally deserted. It was cold and windswept with gusts of snow blowing everywhere (it had snowed last night at home) and the first thought that came into my head was that the game had been postponed. That wouldn't surprise me, given the conditions today. I had a wander around the ground which, as you can see, is quite nice, compact and scenic.
Then I noticed Michel who sometimes carries the sponge for the 3rd XI coming out of the dressing rooms so I wandered over. It seems that Effiat had rearranged the time of the match the 15:00 but had overlooked to inform Pionsat.
Of course the players were not at all happy about this, having to hand around here for two hours with nothing at all to do. It was lunchtime too and several hours without eating before undertaking strenuous physical activity is not to be recommended. Consequently someone sent out for supplies.
I'm not sure whether a high-carbohydrate Fatkins-type of diet is recommended but the proof of the kebab is in the eating, as they say. We shall see what bearing this had on the results of the game.
Now on leaving Pionsat's ground after the two matches last night I had bumped into Gregory just arriving. He plays sometimes for the 2nd XI and sometimes for the 1st XI and is quite useful in attack so I asked him how come he didn't play that evening
. "I had to work until 22:00" he said
"So will you be turning out for the 3rd XI tomorrow then?" I asked. It's my one big gripe about the set-up at Pionsat that the 3rd XI seems to be in some kind of quarantine and doesn't seem to merit the same kind of support that the other two teams receive.
"Well, not at all" he replied, giving me the kind of look that is usually reserved to people when I ask if I might sleep with their daughters.
Yet here at Effiat who should be here but Gregory! He had apparently made enquiries, discovered that the 3rd XI were short of numbers for today and had graciously offered to turn out, which was very generous of him and I wish that a few other "senior" players would follow his lead. Matthieu, who sometimes plays in goal for the 1st XI whenever he is back from Paris, was also here and was playing in midfield, with Damien in goal.
I was quite tickled with an incident that occurred during the warm-up. No-one would volunteer to captain the side and a discussion took place. Eventually someone suggested "give the armband to Matthieu"
"Why?" asked a colleague
"Well, he's always moaning and complaining during the match. Wearing the captain's armband gives him the right to do it."
Gregory is in the action almost immediately. Pionsat win a free kick just outside the area and Gregory takes it. He drops it in nicely at the keeper's feet to give that latter something to do.
It's this kind of kick that really deserves to have a couple of big bulky forwards rushing in on the keeper to give him something to think about while he's going for the ball and to be on hand if the keeper were to drop it. You can see Jerome and Xavier rushing into position but they are a little too far out.
Nevertheless, two Pionsat attackers in front of the entire defence and onside? When has this ever happened before?
And Gregory is again in the thick of the action. There's some good work by the Pionsat midfield who show some impressive perseverence in winning the ball back a couple of times when it seemed that they had lost control. They manage to get the ball forward and play it across to Gregory who is causing mayhem down the inside-left channel.
He comfortably and calmly beats everyone on the pitch and fires across goal into the corner of the net. Good old Gregory.
It seems that Pionsat are fired up for this game. Once more the midfield win some good possession and Eric who is playing down the right flank puts in a lovely ball into the centre. Xavier who is playing at centre-forward just about steals half an inch in front of his marker and gets to the ball first. He lets off a shot but it just goes narrowly wide of the post.
I can't believe I'm watching the 3rd XI. We've only been playing five minutes and I'm rubbing my eyes in disbelief at this match
The second goal is something out of nothing and I really wish the 3rd XI would play like this more often. They lose the ball in midfield but tenaciously win it back down in the right back corner. A couple of good long passes see the ball right upfield. It's nice direct football, no fancy messing about with a risk of losing possession.
The ball falls nicely to Gregory who once more takes on the entire defence and slams it home. This was an excellent goal.
And look where Xavier is, in case the keeper fumbles or drops the shot. Right where a centre-forward ought to be.
And it's half-time. So why is the blasted pie-hut closed? GRRRRRRRRR!
Pionsat go on to score a third goal, which I missed because I was still getting into position after half-time.
I'd noticed a few times during the game that Effiat's keeper had a tendency to stray miles out of his goal during the game when the ball was upfield and I had a quiet little word in Matthieu's little pointy ear, knowing full-well that he sometimes has dynamite in his boots.
So more-or-less from the kickoff, Matthieu, who is controlling the centre of midfield, wins the ball from a lucky rebound 25 yards out, looks up to see the keeper miles off his line, and whallops the ball right over the keeper's head into the net.
Now this is what I mean about the goalkeeper. The ball is upfield for an Effiat corner and so he has strayed out of his goal as far as the half-way line.
In any level of football this is nothing but suicide. The keeper is doing absolutely no good at all up there except watching the game, and with so many agricultural-type farmers at this standard of football it only takes one huge whack out of defence and it's "Goodnight, Vienna". There's no reason at all for a keeper to come off his line unless he absolutely has to. This is totally absurd.
And if that is bad enough then this surely is even worse. Effiat win another corner and the keeper has come right up into the penalty area. What for, I have no idea. He's a pretty small wiry guy and he has no chance of winning the ball in the air or displacing a couple of big bulky defenders.
His club is 3-0 down and one goal here or there is going to make no difference. His captain, if he had any sense, would order him back to goal or even kick him off the park.
Effiat pull a goal back, not to very much surprise from me as Pionsat despite having a couple of new defenders on parade are still looking a little fragile at the back and apt to lose concentration.
It all came from a clearance out of the Pionsat defence that rebounds off a Pionsat midfielder and plays an Effiat forward onside. And it doesn't matter how bad a team might be, they aren't going to miss out on a chance like this. He just runs on a couple of paces and blasts it past a stationary Damien.
And it goes from bad to worse for Pionsat as Effiat score a second goal, while I am busy changing the batteries in the camera. And I can't believe this "Ohhh yes you can"...ed. Pionsat have the ball in defence and play it around instead of booting it upfield. Of course they eventually lose possession and then just stand around as Effiat slam it home. How many times must I say it? If in doubt, kick it out.
One or two of the Pionsat players go berserk with the defence, and quite rightly so. Pionsat are right down at the bottom of the table - they can't afford to play like this and throw away matches that they should have won at a canter.
And while I'm still busy changing the batteries in the camera (you have no idea just how cold it was) it's Jerome's turn to "do a Matthieu".
He runs on from midfield with the ball, evading a couple of powder-puff challenges, looks up to see the keeper again miles off his line, and lifts it over the keeper's head and into the net from 25 yards out.
And it serves the keeper right if you ask me. I'm not at all sure what game it is that this keeper is playing but it's certainly something not involving the other 21 players on the pitch.
By now I reckon the keeper has got the message. A substitiute comes onto the field and goes in goal while the keeper takes off his jacket (yes, it IS a rain jacket that he's wearing) and goes to play upfield, replacing one of their outfield players.
And the first involvement in the game by the replacement keeper is rather unfortunate. Eric takes a long throw-in, not as long as Malik's but long all the same and it ends up with Gregory. He puts the ball in right across field and the no9 steps over the ball thus deceiving the entire Effiat defence and allowing the ball to fall nicely to Xavier.
Xavier whacks the ball into the goalmouth, right into the keeper's arms, and then right out through the elbows and right between his legs and right into the net for goal no5. Yes, if you are keeping goal always keep your elbows and your legs closed and get right behind the ball (says he, who let one in through his legs in training the other night).
Xavier is of course delighted with his unexpected stroke of luck. And who can blame him? He's ploughed a lonely furrow up front for most of the season in what has been pretty much a thankless task.
And so Gregory leaves the field five minutes early. His work is done. And it's thanks to Gregory that Pionsat claw themselves away from the foot af the table.
It just goes to show that with just one or two decent players in their team the 3rd XI's fortunes are transformed. How often now is it that they have played with 9 or 10 players when a couple of 1st or 2nd teamers have not featured for their teams? Someone needs to point out to them that the 3rd XI is also part of the FCPSH setut and they need all the help that they can get.
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