Abingdon Atoms (3) 2 – 15 Didcot Dragons (2)

Just the single match for Abingdon at St. G’s yesterday afternoon. But it’s quality not quantity right? Of course, and that was exactly the motivation shown by the Abingdon 3 players who were ready to give Didcot 2 a fine battle!

Team news: the four ladies were Chrissie, Frances, Shirlaine and Clare (playing in her second ever match). Now then for the chaps – seemingly swimming in them earlier in the week, a variety of illness, injury and a change in availability meant just Juan-Mi, Gary and Steve were available. So my anticipated restful afternoon peacefully looking after the match form and offering what advice I could from the sidelines turned into a rather more energetic 60 minute match against a nippy Didcot chap. And special mention to Steve playing in his first ever match for the club, however a gentle “15-20 minutes introduction at the end” was thus transformed into a full 60 minute battle!

So then, blowy-reffy-whistle and off we went, and it was all rather fun and jolly at first, Didcot managing to sneak in a couple of goals, but a feed at just the right moment meant that Shirlaine could nip round her lady and tear towards the post away from her defender faster than Jack Bauer running away from a ticking bomb just about to go off! She’s well nippy is that one… and with lovely arms, she finished a running in shot perfectly. Another Didcot goal, and 3-1 to them… however Juan-Mi then signalled “time-out” to me urgently…

… because after 10 minutes, Juan-Mi was injured! Sad faces all round, alas those springy Catalan muscles had unfortunately overstretched in a particular direction, and his left leg said “NON!” to being able to continue. Much to his disappointment there were no attractive nurses around to massage his leg muscle and make things all better, so the best we could do was put a bottle of water in one hand and dump the match form in the other and ask him to keep score for us.

Which meant the rest of us were down to 7 vs 8, with Chrissie, Clare and Gary now missing their fourth team mate. Which we all know is jolly difficult and not the greatest of fun, but with enthusiasm and determination, on we all pressed!

At the Matt/Steve/Frances/Shirlaine end, I was trying to set up Frances and Shirlaine for various long shots and running-in shots. A good number were created, and oh-so-close from both of them on a number of occasions, alas none would quite drop for us. Meanwhile at the 3-person end, Clare, Chrissie and Gary were trying their hardest to create space, but with keen and nippy Didcotians in pursuit of them, coupled with a rather tall boy providing permanent collect under the post, it was hard to get away more than a single shot on each attack. A number of such shots were created, but alas none dropped.

A second A3 goal was scored before half-time. With Didcot trying to pass the ball out of defence, I extended my rather long “Mr. Tickle Arms” levers at the right moment to intercept a pass. With my defender not in frame, a quick under-arm finish meant a scoreline of 6-2 to Didcot at half time.

A positive group team talk at half time kept us all gee’d up, and fortunately that drowned out Juan-Mi’s injured wailing on the sidelines, his quick google for “rent-a-nurse” on his phone had not proven fruitful during the first half, much to his immense disappointment.

Second half and on we all battled, but unfortunately no more goals dropped in for us. Didcot also got much smarter at the 4 vs 3 end and realised that they always had a collect and feed by the post, and thus a total of 9 goals were conceded altogether. I can’t fault everyone’s determination though, both the 7 of us working hard on the pitch, and also Juan-Mi on the sidelines, who had by now resorted to asking female Didcot subs if any of them would rub his leg and make things all better for him…

The final result a 15-2 scoreline to Didcot 2. But well played all – in particular a very special mention for Steve. Playing his first match after a handful of training sessions, things were understandably difficult for him at first, and of course a few fouls and goals were conceded against quite an experienced Didcot player. But the difference after 60 minutes was incredible, much better positioning and alertness in defence, and also getting away a few nice shots in attack, so very well played Steve!

So then, that was that. The final act of the evening was guiding the reversing ambulance up towards the sports hall door to transport Juan-Mi back to his “Catalan Castle” in Abingdon, where he could have one final crack at getting that desired leg massage before the night was out – hope you recover soon Juan-Mi! 🙂

As always, a couple of pictures from the day to finish…



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