The team was already consigned to the bottom of the table, but was able to salvage some pride in a 5-a-side match that suggests next season’s league (revised to 5-a-side from 6 this season) could be much more competitive. Tim reports:
Matchday 12. Monday April 4. KO 7.20
West Hampstead Wanderers 11 – 9 The Gym Utd.
Gym Utd arrived at Fortune Green fresh from their title decider the previous week. Maybe it was the taste of defeat in that match, or having one eye already on next season; but either way, a match between the league runners up and the dead last team coudl have been expected to be a walkover to an outsider.
The Wanderers struggled to field a full line-up for the final match, so it seemed the writing was on the wall. However, The Gym Utd kindly agreed to field a 5-a-side team, which allowed more space in the previously cramped court. Some of the early football played by the Wanderers was reminiscent of the tiki-taka approach taken by some larger, foreign teams.
Wanderers were very quickly two goals to the good, following some simple pass and move with calm finishing from @timcheese and @matthewmargot. The gents from the Gym fought back, and the game was close as half-time approached. In the blur of competition, the writer considers that the scores were around 4 a-piece. Most surprising at the interval was that @timcheese already had a hat-trick under his belt, as he hadn’t scored all season whilst playing in defence. With 10 players on the court, far greater space was afforded with counterattacking suiting the bolder, quicker team.
Following the changeover, Utd looked shell-shocked early into the second half as the plucky Wanderers continued as they had started, with a couple of quick goals from a rejuvenated @samwong1. There was real belief that an upset beckoned. @MartinTse was kept busy in goal, with some quite optimistic defending, and tired legs betraying Wanderers’ ambitions. During the mid-point of the second half, Wanderers started to slow and dictate play, with @thomhoffman picking up two of his three goal tally; one of which involved a sublimely understated use of his eyes to direct the keeper away from his exquisitely placed shot. With that, The Gym Utd were almost broken, and after the addition of a fourth by @timcheese following a dubious handball claim denied, all that was left was to see out the final onslaught. Utd’s goliath effort was finished, David like, by @matthewmargot with the simplest of tap-ins before the final whistle blew.
The match had no effect on the standings, but dead rubber or not, the boys from West Hampstead showed their neighbouring cousins with their 11-9 victory that the battle for next season is just beginning.
The Gym Utd. P12 W6 D2 L4 GD +17
Abacus Athletic P12 W4 D2 L6 GD -4
West Hampstead Wanderers P12 W2 D2 L8 GD -40