First game of the season, the one we’ve all been waiting for. If early devotion to the cause is any indicator of how a team will start, then the omens for the Bankers were bad, with three of their team showing up wearing non-regulation colour tops (navy and eggshell blue are definitely not green, but I could be talked round on the turquoise one).
Mickleslate’s also had some real advantages that I didn’t make up: they had more players, and an extra captain to manage subs from the balcony while the other one was playing. Crucial details, possibly. And it was Mickleslate’s who had the brighter start, with Campbell, Evans, and Klaessen all looking lively, and forcing a borrowed Hartley to make an early save. 5-a-side footballing colossus Dan Trinder had a quiet start though, a shot well off-target his only real contribution to the game’s opening minutes.
Midway into the first half The Bankers started to dominate. The previously incompatible Langman and Lammey suddenly took control of the midfield, and Langman was on hand to score the rebound from Lammey’s shot, albeit against the run of play. It took some good goalkeeping from Micklethwaite to stop Langman doubling his tally moments later, and a chance followed for Lammey too as The Bankers threatened to run away with the game.
Mickleslate’s were briefly level, after Klaessen showed good composure to shoot past Hartley, but it was not to last. Trinder and Evans were not gelling, and after a succession of chances for the Bankers Lammey nutmegged Micklethwaite from a central position. Ziebart set up Langman to score his second shortly before halftime, which he finished from a narrow angle with aplomb.
The halftime personnel reshuffle saw Mickleslate’s play improve, with Sierra and Warren’s neat passing keeping the ball in the opposition half. The two sides cancelled each other out for much of the second half, with some poor finishing from Barclay keeping the score at 3-1 after good build up play from Warren and Sidi. At the other end, Thomas found space to test Hartley from the edge of the box, but he was equal to the shot.
Barclay soon found his shooting boots though, and extended The Bankers lead with a powerful shot. In response, Mickleslate’s made a final push forward, with Trinder, Thomas, and Klaessen all passing well in the opposition half. Trinder got the final touch to what would be the last goal of the game, scoring from close range. Hartley was called into action a few more times before the end to deny Gregg and then Trinder, but 4-2 to The Bankers was the final score.
Evans was again quick out of the blocks in the second game, forcing a great save from Hartley. Trinder was finding Micklethwaite well with some good passing out of defence, and the co-captain could have done better with a great diagonal pass in the second minute. A new addition for the second game was renowned centreback Ben Woolhead, who looked conspicuous up front but earned his place when his tackle on Bannerman spilled the ball to Micklethwaite, who then slid the ball under Hartley to give his team the lead.
The game continued at a high tempo, with Evans, Micklethwaite, Bannerman and Langman all making committed tackles early on. The second goal was again created by some good pressure from Mickleslate’s, with Evans first robbing Langman in his own half, and then striking a great shot past the keeper. There was even better to come from Evans soon after, as he ran across the opposition half to meet a Trinder long pass first time, and strike it into the opposite top corner. 3-0.
In the following minutes, the Bankers tightened up their defence, and neither team was able to fashion any clear cut scoring chances. Great attacking play from Slater (now outfield), Lammey, and Evans failed to alter the scoreline. Langman hit back for The Bankers just before halftime, ducking inside Woolhead to make space for a powerful shot from a tight angle. 3-1.
Mickleslate’s started the second half with some fine passing movements, Slater, Trinder, and Woolhead all involved. Woolhead soon scored after some clever play by Slater on the wing. At 4-1 it looked like game over, with the men in yellow creating all the chances.
Tiredness seemed to be taking its toll on both teams as The Bankers started to enjoy some good possession. Langman, Lammey and Sidi were getting into dangerous positions, but without troubling the keeper much. The sides exchanged a few shots, with Hartley again called into action by Slater.
The outcome was put beyond all doubt by Evans with 3 minutes remaining, when he robbed Barclay before finishing well. Some good passing football from The Bankers saw them add a second consolation goal at the death, with Barclay shooting past Micklethwaite in goal.
A worthy opening day to a spectacular competition. 2 great games between 2 great teams saw the points shared equally, which seemed a fair outcome. Now, let the factual corrections and squabbling over details commence…
Final Scores: Game 1 The Bankers 4 -2 Mickleslate's; Game 2 Mickleslate's 5 -2 The Bankers
Goals: Langman 3; Evans 3; Barclay 2; Woolhead 1; Trinder 1; Lammey 1; Micklethwaite 1; Klaessen 1
Mickleslate’s Moray Mince: Niall Slater; Adam Micklethwaite; Ben Woolhead; Dan Trinder; Gregg Warren; Hugh Evans; Alison Campbell; Kathryn Thomas (loanee); Sarahjayne Sierra; Virginia Klaessen
The Bankers: Always giving you more: Greig Barclay; Ian Bannerman; Lloyd Langman; Mo Sidi; Anne Ziebart; Ellie Gilroy; Rachael Lammey; Dan Hartley (loanee)