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Wed 29 Nov 2023
Rotherfield Vets
Icarus FC
Icarus Masters/Vets Squad
A Arnison (35'), A Toogood (79')
Icarus vs Rotherfield - 29 Nov 23

Icarus vs Rotherfield - 29 Nov 23

Andrew Arnison30 Nov 2023 - 15:24
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Icarus do the league double

In case anyone was in any doubt, winter has arrived! A bitterly cold evening in Thame was the setting for a hard fought 2-1 victory against the team currently occupying second in the league.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone of the hard work that goes on in the lead up to each fixture. The non-stop WhatsApp conversations amongst the management team to ensure all the league admin is sorted, confirmation of who has the kit, the balls etc. The element that usually causes the most consternation is squad numbers, do we have enough to field a team? This week was no different with a number of players hoping ‘they’d be there, but they’d be late.’ One such player was a certain Alex Toogood, a most appropriately named footballer! His working day would be occupied by his annual evaluation flight and subsequent debrief. Thankfully his flight was successful, his debrief short and he’d arrive on time for kick off, much to the delight of John Hetherington who could name his dangerous duo of Toogs and Tom Somerville in attack.

Donning as many layers as possible, we headed out for the much needed warm up onto what has become our nemesis, Thame’s sticky & bobbly grass pitch! We’ve never won a match on this pitch but with John’s team talk fresh in the memory we kicked off in positive fashion.
It was important for the defence of Jim Davies, Rich Lowe, Tom Williams and Adi Porter to be brave and hold a high line, thus allowing Pete ‘The Cat’ Rickards to be a sweeper keeper. Icarus started well, the defence was disciplined, the midfield quartet of Howie, Scotty H, Arnie and Si Wain were battling hard to regain and maintain possession and Toogs and Tom S up front were causing havoc in the Rotherfield defence.

The only negative was the increasing desire to try and play an attractive brand of football, something akin to the way we played on the 4g pitch in last Wednesday’s huge win. On this pitch however this simply doesn’t work. Due to the bobbly nature of the pitch, any attempt to play a passing game resulted in swift turn over of possession and put Icarus on the back foot. The pressure told after 20 mins when Rotherfield broke the offside trap with 2 players converging on Pete, he was powerless to stop Rotherfield taking the lead.

Icarus rallied immediately and employed a long ball tactic (all except Rich Lowe who can’t kick a ball more than 15 yards on a grass pitch!!). In bypassing our slightly unamused midfield, we were able to release Toogs’ and Tom’s pace and we consistently got in behind the opposition defence. The tactic soon paid off, after a scrappy piece of play and poor clearance from the Rotherfield keeper, the ball found Arnie out on the right wing. He carved a swathe across the pitch and with the keeper helplessly out of position, Arnie attempted a most graceful lob towards the goal. However, thanks to a cruel yet fortuitous bobble, the ball pinged past the keeper rather than over him and eventually found the corner of the net, Toogs following it all the way in case his poacher skills were required. 1-1 and the momentum was with Icarus heading into half time.

John wasn’t overly impressed at ½ time and as usual, he was probably right! We’d given the ball away far too often whilst trying to play ‘pretty’ football. We needed to get ugly, go long, battle harder in the 50-50’s and earn a hard fought victory.

The second half started well and we continually stretched the opposition defence without much threat coming the other way. At the back, Tom Williams and Adi Porter won everything in the air and protected Pete in goal. Howie Heap, having put in a strong shift was sacrificed and Gwynny introduced, his pace and engine down the right would prove most valuable. Tony ‘Deli’ Spurle replaced Jim D in the defence and quickly picked up the pace of the game. Icarus were definitely on top but the danger still existed, especially from Rotherfield’s pacey winger. Thankfully for Icarus when in a dangerous position he was more interested in demonstrating his outrageous Cruyff turns than actually threatening our goal.

Going forward Toogs, Tom S and Si Wain were still a constant threat. On many occasions the ball would flash across the goal mouth, we just weren’t getting that slice of luck. With the keeper out of position Scott H would try an audacious 40 yarder, unfortunately his focus on accuracy over power allowed the keeper to recover just in time. And then Tom S went on one of his runs at the heart of the defence. He got clattered right on the edge of the box and although he demanded a penalty, he’d have to settle for a free kick. Up step his strike partner who smashed an unstoppable 20 yarder into the bottom corner, was there ever any doubt? Toogs smashing his second direct free kick in 2 games, 2-1 Icarus in the last minute.

John Hetherington was now on the pitch in place of Si Wain and his calming influence helped us manage the final few minutes. And then the final whistle, Icarus had finally won on the dreaded grass pitch, the hoodoo was broken! To be honest, no individual played a blinder! But as a team & as a squad we stayed together, maintained discipline and battled our way to a great victory. A few months ago we’d have lost this game 2-1, but this squad has evolved. We believe we can beat anyone in this league and finally… we now know we can win on this horrid pitch!

Man of the Match – Tom Williams
Report – Rich ‘Can I Kick It? No you can’t!’ Lowe

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