It was a sunny afternoon in Holland Park and PPR arrived for their second game of the season against Dynamo Santos seeking back-to-back away wins. Pre-match preparation was suboptimal to say the least with Meds being sick before the game in the changing rooms, with rumours circulating around the crowd; some claiming it was nerves, other a dodgy curry, and some a relapse of bulimia. On top of this two other players only arrived minutes before kick-off causing some last minute changes to the team sheet, which incidentally, was showing the strength in depth of the PPR squad with just 4 players from the previous weeks’ starting XI in the line up.
Despite the pre-match confusion PPR started brightly and quickly gain control of the game on what was an inconsistent and bumpy surface, with Roberts dominating in air at the back and Jacko Jonny controlling the midfield.
The deadlock was broken before long with Holly and Tricky showing early signs of striking up a good understanding before a speculative ball into the box from Holly was casually turned home on the volley by Tricky to open his account for the season. Just minutes later it was two as PPR put pressure on Santos with a series of corners eventually resulting in Gomme powering home an erudite header from 8 yards.
PPR grew in confidence and Bakes was increasingly getting into the game from the right with a number of powerful runs, and after an exchange of passes he set Trickey free to control deftly on the chest on the edge of the box, the ball bounced up nicely as the keeper stepped off his line he tried what can only he described as an audacious lob which narrowly* floated over the bar as PPR should have put the game beyond Santos.
Moments later the first and only booking of the game went to Roberts as the referee took particular offensive to a disgraceful tackle that cleanly took the ball of the opposition.
2-0 at half time PPR knew they were in the control but that a few more goals were needed to put it beyond doubt and after Bakes hit the post early in the second half Holly duly obliged with a quickfire double of sweet left footed strikes; the first a powerful low shot into the bottom right corner after seizing on hesitation in the Santos defence, the second a quick-footed reply to the keepers punch from a corner.
Despite never really looking in danger PPR somehow managed to let Santos back into the game as play became a little flat with the game seeming in the bag, however things changed as two more penalties were conceded adding to one the previous week. The first was a clear trip from a commited tackle by Roberts, the second more dubious but both were tucked away as Neil cruelly had his clean sheet ripped away from him after an otherwise assured performance. PPR were lucky not to give away another penalty as Hoey spectacularly swung an airshot at the ball before handballing inside the area only for a freekick to be given outside the box.
Second half introductions of the sickly Meds and late arriver Paul Webb into the game, both making their season debuts helped bring some fresh legs into the team and PPR pushed on once more, creating more chances, with Jonny’s long thows and thrusting runs causing problems, Cowan was unlucky with a sweetly struck shot that must have been going at least 2-3 miles an hour failing to trouble the keeper, Tricky continuing to shoot over, but eventually a 5th arrived as Cowan made up for his earlier miss with a fine finish to round off an impressive 5-2 result.
MoM was deservedly given to Holly with two goals and an assist, whilst Tricky was very harshly given Dick of The Day for his audacious lob attempt. Maximum points from two games, PPR are clearly making their mark on the league as odds on the new comers taking the title are surely being cut already. Special mention should go to the referee who as a bit of a nob head.
*Roughly 5-10 yards