Snorkelling with the Fish

The MFL headed into its halfway point in week 5, and with all teams having now played each other it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff!

The business end of the season sees FC Winterfell clinging onto that top spot, with Wootton’s Wanderers chasing hard behind them and for the unfortunate Badgers they find themselves anchored to the bottom of the table with just 1 point from 5 games. With just 6 points separating 5th placed FC Snorkel and the top spot it’s all to play for in the next few weeks. LETS HAVE IT!!

Kicking us off in week 5 were FC Snorkel against The Pique Blinders. With Topper away, the MLF emulated the old WWF and brought in guest referee Jamie Wootton to take control of what promised to be a fast paced encounter. The Snorkel lined up slightly light on firepower with star man Lewis Kingdon and Nathan Butterbean Wheelan missing from the squad. The Snorks though have strength in depth and brought in striker Dylan Llewellyn to try and make up for the deficit. Week 5 also saw the return of Gareth “Gazza” Linderburn who’s been missing from the side for a few weeks following “spit-gate” accusations.  The Pique Blinders also made some squad changes having lost 2 key players in Tom the Enforcer Evans and Christian Jenkins through injury, and bringing in the king of the BOOM Ben Fish to link up with former team mate Peele.

As usual the Blinders made a slow start to the game but defended incredibly against an all-out attack Snorkel, and with shots pinging at him from all angles blinders keeper Corey Seldon was like robokeeper between the sticks. Going the other way, the Blinders looked strong in attack, with Peel and Fish linking up brilliantly deep in midfield and launching a stinging counter attack which soon saw the first BOOM of the night when Fishy took his first pop at goal, a low and hard effort from 15 yards to find the bottom corner of Carters net. This pattern of play continued late into the first half, with the blinders going into half time with a decent lead. The second half saw a flurry of goals from the Blinders with the Fish hitting the net twice more. Peeley looked angry at being out-scored and hit the net himself twice, which was more than matched by some lovely efforts by Thomas Lewis. Snorkel hit back late on with a goal from Llew and later on by Gazza who had tried with Luke Howells to get Snorkel going all game. Unfortunately for them, Carter couldn’t have caught a cold on the night and that showed with the game ending in a 7-2 defeat.

Second up was the struggling Honey Badgers versus current league leaders FC Winterfell, and with Winterfell managing to get through the last couple of weeks unscathed despite some very close games, it seems inevitable that at some point their unbeaten streak would soon come to an end. It was unlikely though based on current form that the Badgers would cause them too much trouble. The Badgers however had other ideas bringing back the angry Wasp to play alongside angry Lloyd and Keano who was in no mood for losing again. The last few weeks have been tough on the usually resilient Badgers who have only managed to notch up 1 point all season. The team isn’t too far away from last year’s line-up so it’s difficult to say if everyone else has improved or whether the Badgers confidence is low.

Jake Trahar was on fine form yet again bagging himself a hat trick and MOM award from the Badgers after a sterling performance. Keano cut an unusually frustrated figure, and vented his frustration towards the referee on a number of occasions for minor infractions, and let the disappointment get to his head at one point with a challenge on Jake Trahar from behind which probably deserved a yellow. Connor Tyrian Thomas was struggling to make an impact on the game despite his one goal, and had to pull out to the flanks to be able to get some time on the ball. Luke Whittaker also managed to net with another clean effort on goal. The champions have been rattled a few times during the first half of this season, and despite not being able to notch up convincing victories, they are chipping away, and if nothing else they are consistent in their approach to games. The question is with so little beteween the teams, one little slip up could cost them the top spot.

The last match of the night was destined to be a cracker, with Milva’s Wootton Wanderers taking on the Young Arabs. A win for the Wanderers would see them knocking the Young Arabs out of 2nd spot, and a win for the Arabs would again put them joint 1st with Winterfell, so all to play for then! The Wanderers were set up well yet again with now regular Dale Price chasing after every loose ball, and Milva sitting in-between the defence and midfield. Jam Jar switched from his normal CB role to the lone striker where he usually does plenty of damage, in both footballing terms and to the bodies of those trying to defend against him. The Arabs turned up in force too, with a full complement of substitutes, again with their most dangerous three players in Steff “Gorilla” Roberts, Keane and Kai Steadman.

It was clear from kickoff that this game was going to be a pacey one, and one where referee Rob Boydell had to keep an eye on those most likely to throw a bit of weight around namely Jam Jar, and Steffan or Bacon for the Arabs. The first half was extremely competitive, with the Arabs playing the better football, but not having much luck against the Wanderers new GK.

It’s easy to see that the Arabs are used to a disciplined build up on a Saturday as they continued to play around the Wanderers defence, running in-between the lines an making some clear space to create opportunities to shoot. The difficulty for them is their build up play rarely ends with a shot on goal, and play in an Arsenal-esque style with a view to passing it into the net. The Arabs need to me more lethal in front of goal, more selfishness is required to get their goal tally up before they start slipping down the table.

The Wanderers have the opposite problem as some players shoot where they should pass, but as they say – if you don’t shoot you don’t score! This paid off with Wanderers founder Jam Jar found the net with a crisp effort, a well-deserved reward for his hold up play during the game (and not the bit where he nearly walked for wrestling an opponent to the ground – that sir is not hold up play!). Cory Tyzack also found the net with a stunning long range effort which hit top bins. The Keeper had no chance and gave the Wanderers a bit of breathing space (and no Josh it wasn’t as good as yours!). It knocked the wind out of the Arabs sails a bit so it wasn’t surprising when the Woolf stepped up to finish them off to make it 3-0. The Arabs will be frustrated with that defeat which now sees them slip to 3rd spot. MOM awards went to Keane who ran all night, and Milva who was just Milva!