Mens 1stXI 3 – 3 Wayfarers
Following a string of well-earned victories before Christmas, Old Cranleighans assembled in Raynes Park for the second half of the season placed fourth in the table. Their opponents, London Wayfarers, sat just below them, only three points adrift. Frost early on had threatened disrupt proceedings, but a crisp winter day made for a “box office” mid-table clash.
Wayfarers hit OCs with some fast attacking from the off. The absence of the two Ripley brothers through injury meant some changes at the back for the OCs – JLT filling in as centre-back and Jody on the right. The OC defence absorbed the early pressure well, with Stew stepping higher to pick off passes, and the team managed to break with a couple of counter-attack opportunities. However, deep runs from Wayfarers’ forwards eventually reaped a reward and the home side went a goal up.
OCs showed good character to fight back immediately and soon the levelled the score at 1-1. Now 20 minutes in, the game had opened up with possession switching regularly in the middle of the park. Then a very suspect whistle against goalscorer Champagne Webber suddenly saw the OCs down to ten men. Having to resort to aerial distribution from the back, OCs struggled to contain Wayfarers and went into the break 3-1 down.
The second half gave the OCs a chance to show the grit that they have become renowned for. Paddy, Wiso and Andres worked hard to dominate their opposite numbers and a typically direct run from Gilo soon forced the keeper to concede a flick, which Jimmy duly slotted in the corner. Jay and Ceige had more chances to attack as OCs moved the ball around fluently, resulting in a number of short corners. JLT, the silent assassin, was once again on hand for a deflection on the post to tie the score at 3-3.
OCs had several chances to win the game in the closing minutes but a draw was the fair result of a tight match. Skipper Dan had solid game back following injury, being his usual dominant presence in goal. Appreciation also goes to the Ripleys for their support on the sideline along with Knappy’s direction. The teams headed to The Cavern after the game, which produced top draw chilli con carne but some terrible chat and vote rigging, leading to Pagey being named both MOM and DOD.
William Le Page