The clock struck 1 on a fine sunny afternoon on Hackney Marshes, the site of the first loss in the history of the esteemed Priory Park Rangers Football Club. It was clear in the changing room from the presence 13 men all ready, changed and hungry to play that these warriors were there to redeem the pride of the club from last week's defeat.
Forgeoing the show pitch this week, the team headed straight to the arena of conflict. After a few profile shots were taken, and in the case of one centre back with a new hair do, demanded, the boys proceeded to mentally dominate the opposoition with a series of well practised, and flawless warm up drills. You could smell the fear in the air, despite the fact that at least half of the team were giants.
And the confidence as result of that fear was evident when 2 minutes in, after immediate pressure from the away team, a corner was won. Up stepped regular set piece taker Graham Jackson who swung a right footed corner in, and in a direct quote from the goal scorer Tricky "I feigned to make a run into the mixer, lost my marker and was able to simply nod in at the far post." A record fastest goal in PPR history, and a great start to the game.
Unfortunately despite clearly being the better team once again, 2 minutes later a standard long ball from the home team resulted in their striker through on goal with only Neil to beat. The PPR keeper raced from his line and made himself huge as he met the forward, who's attempt on goal richocheted off the PPR keeper's chest and into the path of a Star of Bethnal player. Despite the PPR defence racing back to cover, his shot rocketed past Tomkins and into the net. 1-1 after 4 minutes, there would be some goals in this game.
Priory continued to dominate the game, with the partnership of the cultured Tricky and the mobile and pacey Ash causing the slow lumbering defence of the Star all manner of problems as Meddings and Ween put numerous crosses into the box. The football played during the first twenty minutes was classic Priory Park, with short one touch passes being exchanged throughout the midfield. It paid off in the 13th minute when another move down the right hand side resulted in Ween cutting inside in his own inimitable style and slipping the ball to Ash, who's movement could not be contained, and who stroked the ball into the net. PPR were back where they belonged.
3 minutes after taking the lead another move down the right resulted in a ball into the box from Ween creating havoc in the defense. As the ball ricocheted around with Ash attempting to steer it goalwards, Tricky Desforges, like all good strikers, found himself in the right place at the right time and swept home from 6 yards. The game was taking shape as deserved, and the Rangers did not look like letting up, winning headers in the centre of the park despite the height disadvantage, and physically dominating the bigger team.
Unfortunately after 10 minutes of domination another break from Star resulted in their pacey right winger hitting a channel and after getting past his marker he cut back for his striker to hit home. Yet another goal from a long ball – it wasn’t pretty, but was proving mildly effective.So the lead was cut down but PPR stayed strong. As the game progressed, Star of Bethnal Green's tactics of late tackles and digs here and there exemplified the reason why they'd had the same man sent off in two games, and another player booked in both games.
As PPR continued to pressure, half time came. The team knew they had a win in them, and no changes were made for the Rangers, and Star subbing their left winger as he had bad blisters from his lame duck attempts to beat Paul Webb. The second half started with PPR struggling to find their rythmn, and after a couple of near misses with Star's zippy striker causing a threat, PPR started to take charge again. Again the wing play was excellent on both flanks and chance after chance came and went, with Desforges coming so close to his hat-trick but to no avail. The central midfield partnership of Jacko and Jonny really started to dominate, covering what seemed like all of the pitch, running rings around the now lumbering Star midfield, and the pace and energy of Ash causing the centre backs real trouble. At the back, Gomme and Carsten managed to deal with the self estimated "9 foot tall" striker, who became more and more frustrated.
With Meddings gingerly touching his hamstring around the 65' minute, the decision was made to bring on Dave Goddard, for a bit of rugby flava. The moment to make the sub was clear when the central midfielder roughly twice the size of Meddings, decided to see what happened when an unstoppable fat man hits an immovable Filipino. The result - a winded Meddings, and the first PPR sub of the game.
As the second sub was lined up, PPR launched a rare counter attack, with the ball in his own half, Tricky played the ball to Jonny Richardson, who turned and put on a burst of pace that left his marker in the dust, as he closed in on goal, the fans on the sidleine knew there would only be one outcome - Jonny calmly slotted the ball past the keeper, who was the first person on the pitch that the PPR players wanted to be the last line of defence for Star.
As the final sub was made and Toby Evea replaced Jimmy Cowan after another solid game at full back but carrying a niggling injury, PPR ran out the remainder of the game with several chances but couldn’t extend the lead. As the minutes ticked away, a couple of late challenges in a row were thrown in by the tired home team, and resident aggravator Carsten Tomkins wreaked revenge on Star's central midfielder. No cards were given, but team solidarity was shown, you don’t try and injure a member of the PPR and get away with it.
The final score: 4-2. It could have been so many more, but the Priory Park Rangers returned to the changign rooms jubilant as they returned to their winning ways. In a day of PPR firsts (not conceding a penalty being one), the Man of the Match award was a three way tie between the prolific Tricky, the dangerous Ween, and the energetic Jonny. Despite not actually approaching any of the team to check names, the ref's MoM was awarded to the consistent and assured Graeme Jackson - and Chairman Barnes’ description of said ref being deaf, blind, dumb, and having a stutter took nothing away from it.
Dick of the day was awarded for the 2nd week in a row to Carsten Tomkins, for his failure to stop the first goal, and for having his hair cut before the game and demanding a new profile picture. But as he stated, it was purely a case of not much being done wrong in the game, and the team clutching at straws for the decision. A defcision which has forever changed the Tom Barnes Match Rating System TM.
Next fixture is a the first cup game for Priory Park Rangers, Wembley FC here we come!