25th Feb saw the mighty Kiwi heading back to the fortress of Dondonald Rec on a classic gloomy London winters' day.
Awaiting us were the AFC Battersea Firsts, not encountered by Kiwi yet this season. Battersea and Kiwi went into the fixture similarly placed points wise and the stage was set for a fierce battle in which each was seeking a valuable 3 points to help drive us up through the congested middle of the league table.
The gaffer F Milne named a strong starting line-up in his now favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. This saw the return of D Milne in the back line after a long absence. His return meant we were able to form with Seb surely one of the angriest centre back pairings the league has witnessed. It also meant, when combined with George and Angus, we surely had enough Milne-e-ness in the setup to assure victory.
Con and Xavi took up their familiar positions at either side as full backs. Fionn and Collier were deployed as the defensive midfielders with Kane, Rors, and George forming the attacking midfield trio behind Angus. Rory was instructed to play as a false 9 with the other midfielders operating as a midfield four begging the question – was this actually just the gaffers attempt to disguise a boring 4-4-2 as the more fashionable 4-2-3-1 popularised by some of the great modern teams? Kezza ‘The English Fox’ was patrolling the box, with Jamie, Stef, and Oli making up the linesman's committee/subs bench.
Positions set, the boys were keen to get the blood flowing with the familiar routine of our trademark cone-based warm-up before 4 minutes of possession football and an inspiring monologue from the gaffer reminding us to play for each other. BUT THEN DRAMA!
The administrative side of things hadn’t got off to the best of starts, with the beer theme for the week being set to ‘bring whatever’. This was only the precursor to a much larger administrative oversight as it quickly emerged that somewhere in the complex management machinery which usually keeps the cogs of Kiwi FC smoothly turning behind the scenes there had been a failure to secure a pitch booking! The phones were suddenly frantically in action as Fin, his opposition number, and the ref all tried to work a solution. The back office was desperately trying to track down Shane, who had absconded to the south of Europe, perhaps spending the missing pitch booking fee on yet more first class travel. Luckily the pitch was not otherwise occupied, but without the nets which we had to get from the groundsman the ref was certain no competitive match could take place. With murmurs of an early arrival to The Wandle becoming increasingly loud, the gaffer pulled it off, managing to convince the groundsman to help us out! Game on (45 minutes behind schedule!). The administrative nightmares were to continue beyond the game itself, as this very match report was not completed on time.
Kiwi started at a great pace, and Battersea were surely wishing the groundsman had stayed in bed as we were at them from the get go. A couple of shots were taken early but were wide of the mark as the boys were just warming up their shooting boots. Around he 11 minute mark an inviting cross was played over the back post where it found an onrushing G Milne. Meeting the ball just as it landed, he connected perfectly, hammering the shot across goal into the side netting on the far side of the goal to give the keeper no chance. 1-0 Kiwi!
Battersea weren’t keen to hand it to us though. The battled for a corner which they were able to knock in after a scramble, Kiwi having failed to clear the first ball well enough. Kiwi kept the pressure on and it seemed another was imminent. Controlling the ball on the edge of the box and looking up, Fionn lined up the goal. The shot was hit with power and curve, beating the keeper and dipping under the crossbar to make it 2-1 Kiwi!
In spite of some exhilarating half-time encouragement, the period right after half time has caused us some issues in recent weeks. So it was again as Battersea started the stronger of the teams and was able to even things up only seconds after we’d finished the oranges.
The game ebbed and flowed, with a few half chances for each side but Kiwi probably looking the better on the balance of play. With a handful of minutes on the clock the opposition failed to clear properly, with the ball breaking kindly to Rory who had been pushing in search of a winner. Seeing their keeper caught off his line, he took a second to size up the situation before effortlessly putting the ball over the keeper to score a glorious winning goal!
Three great finishes and three points! Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo