Gutsy K’s Put One Over League Leaders
What iteration of Tommyball was this? Tommyball 3.0? Tommyball 4G? Tommyball V: This Time It’s Personal? Whatever it was, it looked, for periods in the second-half especially, like this is what Tommy Williams has been working towards since taking over in 2014: defensively sound, a compact central midfield with energy to burn, flair on the flanks, fluidity from a No 9 and pace from a No 10. A group that was suddenly more than the sum of its parts, dropping deep but in a controlled way, willing to play out progressively, punching above its weight against an expensive Hampton team leading the league – and all this with luxury of bringing Dan Bennett off the bench.
Well-executed Dowseball is, it must be admitted, pretty close to Tommyball (all Step 3 approaches inevitably being variations on Rymanball after all: ie. if X is Tommyball and Y is Dowseball and R is Sean Ray and T is Alan Turvey, the formula for finishing top 8 is X/ π > Y ( + R) T.) Bad Tommyball can fall some way short of mediocre Dowseball partly because Tommyball is a more ambitious way of playing so when it goes wrong it really goes wrong whereas Dowseball is a utilitarian philosophy capable of withstanding more variables (except winter) and can carry precisely three more passengers on its day though it is more likely to ultimately founder against both clogger Essexball and putative higher quality Vanaramaball.
The point is this: the residual doubt about this K’s team had been our record against the league’s top teams. If we made the playoffs, could we beat a real rival? Was Tommyball built to merely contain the best and beat the rest?
The surprise is that this win came after an appalling defeat at Enfield in midweek which was only redeemed by 20 minutes of singing the Twelve Days of Butterworth. Right from the off on Saturday, this was a different K’s.
In the twelfth minute man of the match Pelayo Pico Gomez DIDN’T control the ball with his hand, strode forward and arrowed an accurate shot across the Hampton keeper into the net. “We’ve scored too early” was the unanimous view behind the goal. And it looked like the same old pattern was reasserting itself when Moussa Diarra headed in an equaliser after a spell of Dowseball pressure.
As we waited for the worst… new loan signing Mitch Pinnock decided to introduce himself as very good at football, in particular when bamboozling Josh Casey on the wing with an audacious flick over the Account Manager’s head. Then a Pinnock corner, swerving in low and fast, landed on Alan Inns’ head and the beardless teacher knelt in supplication to make it 2-1.
At half-time I commented that Andre McCollin had been uncharacteristically quiet and soon after the break, he was put clear and calmly used the outside of his left foot to roll the ball beyond the semi-advancing Beaver before celebrating with a sort of lateral-run reverse-Sturridge jazz-hand combo in front of the Royal Enclosure and Corner Boys.
And that was that. It never got too nervy, even after the excellent Bruce Hogg received a second yellow card with 5 minutes left.
Deep into injury time, Dan Bennett came off the bench, attempted an impudent chip finish which was cleared off the line and then converted the rebound for 4-1. Having been dropped for the last two games, he was mobbed by his team-mates and gave his best poker face throughout. A “genius” is how Harold Odamatey described him in the programme. “You can’t try to understand it”.
Match report by Taimour Lay.