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Jokers 1 - 1 Teddington 4s (A)

14th January 2024

By Stephen “Noaksy” Hardy

Scorer: Phil Balbirnie

Team: Tony Haycroft GK, Jon Bowen, Martin Ravvers, Nick Sait, Jim Hey (Capt), Stephen Hardy, Jim Sayer, Rob Stone, Trevor Mallinson, Andy Carlisle, Jonny Milsted, Phil Balbirnie, and guest Freddie Sutton

Umpires: Theirs, and fairly blown and controlled, thank you.

The Jokers assembled at Teddington for our first post Christmas game a little nervous that the winter break may have suited the youthful Teddington 4s side more than our experienced line-up. Thankfully, readers, the Jokers didn’t start slowly with any roast Turkey and Christmas pudding hangovers.

The game started at a rollicking pace. The Jokers’ first touches were crisp and our passes accurate. The first five minutes were strongly contested by both sides. Trevor and Phil managed to disrupt and intercept the Teddington play high up the pitch on a few occasions. We nearly carved out a couple of early goals. Teddington did start to pressure The Jokers more frequently after the first five minutes. The pacy Teddington attacks had some menace about them but there weren’t too many D entries. Ravvers and Big T marshalled the defence and midfield well to prevent any clear openings. Saity stayed very close to his opposing player, when called into action, carrying on the good work from Freddie on the left. Well done chaps.

After ten minutes another strong move by The Jokers led to a short corner. A hard straight strike by Stoner was covered by the keeper but Phil obliged and pounced on the rebound to pop the Jokers in front. [Coaching tip: hit the target with first strike]

The game pace remained high throughout the remainder of the half. Teddington continued to press and commanded about 60% of the possession stats. The Jokers, though, looked a little more dangerous than Teddington on our attacks. Trevor and Phil frequently dribbled past players to cause overloads. A couple of nice attacks down our right by Jim, at right back, and Stoner, in right midfield, stretched the Teddington team. At one point in the middle of the first half we nearly doubled the lead but were denied by a good save.

The last ten minutes of the first half saw the Jokers become more defensive soaking up a lot of pressure. Strong play inside our 25 from the Jons in midfield and Captain Hey prevented too many openings. It was noticeable Teddington were getting a little frustrated their dominance in territory was not leading to any outcome. The first half final whistle came at a good time for both teams to rethink strategy.

Our team talk was largely more of the same except a little more attention to push up and press, where possible, to avoid inviting Teddington to pressure us too high up the pitch.

The second half game pattern was similar to the first half. The Jokers did push up more where possible. Teddington, though, did slightly dominate possession and pressed us with their extra youthful speed.

Our best moves were mainly occurring from stout defending leading to quick moves down our flanks. Freddie played some telling passes down the left on his first Jokers game. Well played Freddie. Jim, on the right, also stretched Teddington at times with good support from Stoner, Phil and Trevor.

The energy and speed of Teddington’s play remained high throughout the game. The Jokers midfield put a huge shift in throughout the game to prevent too many clear chances. Big T, though, was called into action on a few occasions and made some fine saves. With just less than fifteen minutes left the Teddington pressure did lead to a goal. A fast interception led to an overload and a missed tackle from yours truly leading to Teddington scoring with an easy finish. Frustrating we conceded but Teddington deserved a goal on balance of play.

Shortly after the goal we were reduced to ten men. I had a red mist moment (very unusual) and I questioned an umpire’s decision – “It was a back stick umpire!”. I turned a green card into a yellow by inviting the umpire to upgrade the penalty. As a reward I won DOD and the opportunity to write this report. Woo hoo! Anyway, enough about my failings, the next five minutes saw some resilient strong play. The Jokers dominated possession and strung together some good moves. Didn’t quite result in any shots on target but nevertheless it was a great response from dropping to ten players. I had to concede on the sideline, ‘We are playing better without me.’

On returning to 11 players, the Jokers kept up the big effort to thwart Teddington for the last five minutes. The game finished 1-1.

A good result against a strong Teddington side. The whole Jokers squad of 13 played well. POM was Ravvers for an imperious performance at the back. Bring on the next game!