After 6 weeks off due to weather an a Xmas break the Oak returned to action against R2R in the league. The Oak lads were very much up for the return of footy, let’s see if that premise was still the same after 10 mins on a heavy pitch after a Christmas of indulgence and merriment. Some indulged more than others with full back Charlie Wilkin (Fat Chaz he is now known as)having to request for a bigger shirt after the festive period.
Team talks and tactics done, out they went. Oak started very positively knocking the ball about and creating a handful of chances. Forcing saves from the R2R keeper, one notable one was from. Harry Simms free kick destined for the onion bag but the R2R keeper tipped over. Despite this positive start, R2R started action questions of Oak with some great wing play and some dangerous balls over the top. Oak were failing to win the 1st and 2nd balls in key areas, it was only a matter of time before it came to haunt them. A ball lumped forward with a bit of miscommunication between the Oak back line and midfield led to R2R striker being slotted through and left 1 on 1 to slot home for the opener. 1-0 R2R. Oak rallied themselves and tried to go again but shortly after another long ball causing problem once again Oak failing to clear another long ball leading to Joel Bolton hacking down their frontman in the area to give away a penalty. Up stepped the R2R winger who absolutely smashed it home into top bins to put R2R 2 goals to the good. Oak leaving themselves a bit to do now but they know they weren’t going to go away easy. It was going to be a hard game for the Oak now, they couldn’t afford to concede another in fact they needed a goal themselves before half time. Unfortunately for Oak, R2R capitalised again before the break with a winding blow to the Oak to make it 3-0 before half time. Despite this there were calls from both players on the pitch and the bench to “keep fucking going, there’s a lot of football left”. Half time whistle blows and Oak go in 3-0 down. It was time for the gaffer to rally the troops, it didn’t need much doing these lads were still well fucking up for this. The belief in this team is unreal. Mentality that cannot be taught. Some motivation and inspiration all around the camp kicking about at half time left Oak riled up and to at least try and get something from this game. Surely the odds were stacked against them, maybe win this half of football at least?
Oak started like a house of fire, they were up for this. Started very positively soon taking control of the game with some very good football. Oak’s reward for their bright start came early on in the half, some good pattern play allowed Reilly Emerson to break down the right and fire in a dangerous cross for Harry Simms to slot home, that was more than enough to rally the Oak. The came straight back at R2R with fire in their bellies, knocking on the door once more. There was a distinct belief that they were right back in this game. A second goal came quickly this time Reilly, Mr Assist, himself turned into goal scorer to make it 3-2, this really got things stirred up the Oak bench and handful of spectators were bouncing. Surely they couldn’t could they?
Yep. After some brilliant midfield work by Knappett and Watson, another pattern of brilliant passing led to Oak Road skipper Will Murphy sending home the equaliser. They’d done it. 3-3 a piece surely they could have a crack at winning this now? Momentum was with the Oak, R2R had a couple of chances but Oak were in the ascendency. Oak break free again some neat work down the wing and some clever play from Oak Road poster boy Charlie Outram brought the 4th. Absolute pandemonium it was 4 fucking 3 to the Oak. They’d thrown everything and the kitchen sink at R2R to get back in this! This showed later in the second half Oak had ran out of a bit of steam and the Christmas legs were kicking in. Oak were forced to make some changes, R2R also making changes grew back into the game, rightfully so, they’d been good in the first half they weren’t just going to disappear now they were up for this too. R2R pressurised Oak Once more some brilliant build up player and pace down the wing led to a break in the box, then what happened after this could’ve be forecasted from Newland Ave, Joel Bolton who gave the pen away in the first half went steaming in with the most telegraphed foul you’ll ever see, the Oak bench had sat down in dismay before he even made contact. Penalty to R2R. Another corking penalty sent home and it was 4-4.
An emotional rollercoaster, this game was back to square one. Both teams,like heavyweights in a Rocky Balboa film throwing caution into the wind went at it with not long to go. Oak hand more chances some good saves and blocks led to no avail on the R2R goal. Now it was R2R’s turn a great ball over the top left the nippy striker 1 on 1 with Oak centre half Daniel Whitfield, he nicked the ball just past him and his pace prevailed, home through on goal and rest assured he didn’t miss. 5-4 R2R, Oak’s valiant effort undone once again, absolute heartbreak. Surely they had nothing left to get back in this?! The emotional rollercoaster had hit a trough once more for the Oak bench and staff. “We go again boys” was the cry Oak weren’t about to give in now. Mental, what a game this had been but they still found that little bit more in the tank. Oak piled on the pressure and bang they were rewarded again once more for their resilience Charlie Outram slotting home to equalise sending the Oak lads and bench into elation once more. 5-5. Yes, 5-5! What a game.
Chance for both teams came late on for a late scare for both teams. Oak denied late on by a terrific save from the R2R keeper. R2R COMING close from a corner. The emotion and tension flared but finally the football God’s had seen enough, another goal wasn’t to be for either team. Referee blew up and that was full time, what a game played in great attitudes by both teams. A great advert for the league. The train of emotion had made it’s last stop, it was time to sit down, take a breath and have a hard earned refreshment from all. Simply superb spectacle.
Wallis-8- Unfortunate to have 5 goals chalked against him today, commanded his box very well.
Bino-8.5-Solid and calm as per usual. Going to be a big miss in this team when he goes to Oman.
Whits-8- Didn’t not let the first goal get in his head. Won some terrific tackles and headers in the second half.
Joel-7.5- Gave away two pens but that isn’t any justice on his hard work and winning some big tackles and battles.
Fat Chaz-7.5- Relatively quiet in the first half but came alive in the second half created chances (maybe an assist???) quality second half and service into the box. Did everything right in the second half apart from when Phil Mitchell mugged him off, but he wasn’t the only one.
Knappett-8- Heart on his sleeve stuff from the boy, won 50/50s, played some brilliant stuff, and bled purple in the middle of that park.
Watson- 8- Another gritty performance with his Oppo Knappett. Great midfield battles and distribution despite the pitch being heavy and sticky. Great performance.
Reilly-9- Up the youth. Assisted and scored. Been a great signing for the oak, making plenty of chances and causing problems once more on that right hand side.
Murphy-8-Skipper led the troops into battle even when the chips were down he believed in the team. Great attitude and temperament, relays itself onto others on the pitch. On the scoresheet once more. Can’t ask anymore. My skipper??
Simms-8.5- Been a different man since that “bench-gate” game. Another mature and selfless performance from simms took his goal very well.
Sunman-8-Battled until the death like he always does. Creating off the ball chances for the Oak. Ran himself into the ground, committed to the cause.
Outram-9- A mature outstanding performance from the Oak “poster” boy. Involved in the majority of the goals, signing off with two himself.
Cooper-8- Dangerous once again from the bench. Works his bollocks off for his team. Managed to foul that little cunt on the wing for me, good lad. Brilliant once again from this lad.