Away league match played on 17 March 2012.
Kicked off at 2:00 PM

“It could have been a cricket score today, had it not been for Neil.”Never a truer word spoken than the these as Meds’ sipped his cool ale in the pub after Saturday’s match against the reigning, three time London Premier League champions Park View FC.


Despite decent conditions the hosts decided for the game to be played on the nearby rubber crumb AstroTurf. A decision that pleased many of the Priory Park Rangers’ old guard given the club’s successful roots as a Power league outfit. For some however, the lack of give and difficulty sliding would prove problematic.


The Owl emblazoned in hellfire red on their breasts for just the second time this season, the air of excitement in PPR’s miniscule changing room was palpable. The desire to right the wrongs of Upbirds unquestionably playing on their minds. Such was this desire for stability at the back that a change in formation was brought in by the manager. Still 4-3-2-1, though this time, the diamond in the middle would be a defensive one with the returning Alex Lloyd deployed to deconstruct PVFC’s build up play.


There was no such negativity about PPR’s opening play in the first half. Byrnie and Medding’s impressive wide play early on was rightly rewarded as the two linked up to produce a contender for goal of the season. Having again gone behind against the run of play, PPR went level after Byrnie’s quick thinking and pin-point long pass found Meds’ free on the right flank. Without the meddling Danny Baker nearby to distract him, nothing would get in Meds’ way as he took down the pass exquisitely before rifling home into the top corner from 25 yards. His signature first touch at pace combined with zero back lift gave the impressive home keeper no chance.


Beyond this early show of fighting desire and drive there was little else to say about the way in which the boys in red eventually conceded three more goals without reply.


Park View were clearly a well drilled team, disciplined in each and every position. The width and contours of the artificial pitch allowed their back four to combine with the midfield with ease. Able to sit deep and receive passes without fear of the ball bobbling meant PPR’s midfield struggled to exert any real pressure, eventually tiring and losing shape – paving the way for Park View’s incisive through balls. The gutsy fight and will to win each 50/50 would eventually be PPR’s downfall. This is where the game was eventually lost. In the midfield. Or as Lloyd likes to call it, the wolf pack.


Now one doesn’t have to be a hunter to understand that in places like in the Arctic, where indigenous people sometimes might hunt a wolf, they'll take a double edged blade. And they'll put blood on the blade and they'll melt the ice and stick the handle in the ice, so that only the blade is protruding. A wolf will then smell the blood and want to eat and it will come and lick the blade trying to eat and what happens is when the wolf licks the blade, of course, he cuts his tongue, and he bleeds. He thinks he's really having a good thing, and he drinks and he licks and he licks and of course he is drinking his own blood and he kills himself. That is exactly what happened to PPR on Saturday. When the early tackles were being valiantly won by Flynn, Lloyd and Tomkins Jnr. the team was momentarily lifted. However as time wore on, so too would the wolf pack’s hold on the game.


PPR’s exposed backline did exceptionally well at times. Goal line clearances weren’t uncommon. Whilst the man between the sticks would go on to receive the unanimous verdict for Man of the Match for a display that did more than just saved PPR’s blushes. A 4-1 score line may indeed be a heavy loss. However Priory Park Rangers must remember that with Neil as their guardian in the home fixture, the Nest's conditions and an understanding of the champion’s style of play will no doubt give the Owl’s the edge in front of a home crowd.If they fight for each ball like it was their last, then the smaller, trickier pitch will prove a massive factor. The wolf pack will topple the bison. (Upbirds' local pub is called The Bison.)


Week in week out Neil has displayed a courageousness combined with raw talent that has wowed his fellow team mates.

Stare long and hard at the badge. In two week's time, when PPR travel south to play Upbirds FC, they'll want to remind themselves just what they're fighting for. Revenge is a dish best served cold. And Owls LOVE the cold. (some of them).

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