What a cup tie. The first team sneaked the win after drawing the match, but with their lower handicap, having to give the Seconds a fifteen goal start. It went to the final attack of the match and the Seconds could have nicked it at the death when a Pink Arm Productions effort came down off the under side of the crossbar and floated away from the line rather than across it.
For the neutral spectator (obviously there were none for in a fixture such as this, although the stands were, by Monday night standards, packed) it was drama from the outset. The Firsts started confidently with two goals early in the quarter. They initially looked certain to overhaul the very competent looking Seconds with room to spare. Then the tone of the game was transformed with two goals form the Seconds that took small deflections from defenders arms on their way past the bemused keeper. With their captain's shrill squeals of encouragement ringing in their ears the Seconds began to assert themselves and the last line of the First's defence faded from view under some good shooting. The quarter ended 5 - 5 (20 - 5 including the handicap). The Firsts had a mountain to climb and had set off ambling towards the distant summit.
The Firsts began to get their act together in the second quarter. The Beast From The East was starting to maraud down their right wing. After a couple of his backhand efforts several Seconds players had to restrain them selves from applauding. The Sniper was finding his range and 007 was transformed in the Pit, shrugging of a couple of defenders as if they were flotsam. But it was still not all one way traffic. At the other end the defence was better, but young Kevin impressed with sharp shots to either corner and the Pink Arm was never far from the pit. The quarter went 2 - 6 to the Firsts, but at half time at 22 - 11 the game was very finely balanced.
The Firsts dominated the third quarter winning it 1 - 5 against a clearly tiring Second team. The pink Arm still managed to rise from the tumult to tip in a far post cross, and at the other end The Beast From The East was finding the target from impossible angles with his backhand. In the Second's goal Wayne knew every time that the ball was about to be delivered, but using some mystical cloaking technique The Beast manages to hide it from mortal view between the point of departing his left hand and it crashing into the back of the net. Despite their growing dominance the Seconds were managing shots on target, but finally, a rather shakey wall was being erected in the First's goal.
As the final Quarter started, at 23 - 16, it looked as if the Firsts had left it too late. They went about their work more effectively now and the Seconds were very tired, having put up a determined effort throughout. The Beast was relentless. He was also clearly tiring, but it doesn't seem to affect his left hand and the the onslaught continued. His final effort, to tie the scores with less than a minute to play was a flicked lob having drawn Wayne to defend a one on one. The ball bobbled gently, agonisingly across the line and there was a brief unconvincing protest that it had not crossed the line, but the scores were tied. Wayne did manage to stop a final backhand that would have killed the game and saved well on the opposite post from Matt Jeffries who could also have sealed the win in the dying moments. And then, the Pink Arm rose once more. He wrestled the ball free in the pit and having beaten the defender and the keeper was cruelly denied buy the crossbar. The ball this time drifted out of the goal having drifted as slowly into it at the other end of the pool only moments earlier. A harsh way to lose, but a great game.
A word of praise for the referee. Louis had an excellent game under difficult circumstances and if he hadn't played several minutes overtime the Firsts would not have won.... (only joking!). And a word of thanks to Stretch, on the eve of his World Tour. This may have been his last performance for Avondale at Putney (we hope not). As another ex Avondale player would say, "What a pleasure".