Home 3: Between the Highlights
Tuesday evening saw Tooting put 4 great goals past Bedfont Sports. It’s the sort of scoreline that many had thought was coming. And whilst the scoreline and quality of the goals was pleasing, its actually what happened between the goals that shows how much we’ve grown as a team.
Before the game, I bumped into someone looking a little lost by the roadworks on the bridge by the stadium, trying to get to the game. His name was Jaochim (sic) and he was a dutch football fan who lives in London and described himself as a “groundhopper”. He’d been to see Watford, QPR, Brentford and Fulham in the past year that he’d been in London and this was his first visit to a non-league club. He certainly picked a nice night for it.
Highlight - No sooner than we had kicked off had I managed to drop my pint all over the floor, to sarcastic Pat Jennings references from the Bog End faithful. And not long after that Danny Bassett picked up the ball on the right, ran into the box, cut inside and put the ball in the back of the net.
There were two things that really impressed me between the first and second goals. The first was our ability to keep the ball in the opposition’s third of the pitch- to keep possession of the ball and make short sharp passes trying to find an opening. There was a period of a couple of minutes we were basically passing in triangles in the Bedfont penalty area, and so we were putting the pressure on, but in a way that played the percentages.
The other thing that really impressed me (as it did throughout the game) was Hady Ghandour’s movement. When we were on the counter, he was making quick diagonal runs. And sometimes he didn’t get the pass fed to him. But that’s actually not what was important. In making these runs he was dragging defenders with him, which was opening up space for our other players to run into. Giving Razzaq, Didi and Basset the space to cut inside, and to run into. I almost felt sorry for the Bedfont defence.
Highlight - Razzaq picks up the ball at the corner of the area - he feints to go inside, takes it the other way, beats his man and sends in a cross on a sixpence for Didi Castanho to put into a gaping goal.
And it is after this goal that I saw the most pleasing thing. We played keep ball. We didn’t try to force anything, and we didn’t get overconfident or hit any “hollywood balls”. Bedfont started pressing a bit higher. But the lads didn’t let the adrenaline get to their heads. They calmed it down. They took a bit of pace out of the game and kept it tight. They let themselves relax into the game before finding a way through once more.
Highlight - Razzaq runs down the left, a quick bit of footwork takes the ball inside past the defender and he “dinks” it over the keeper.
What you wouldn’t have seen from the video of that goal online is what happened about 2 seconds before it. Razzaq went into a 50/50 with a Bedfont player and from the angle I was standing at looked like he’d been cut in half. But he somehow managed to stay on his feet, and jump over the player on the ground to collect the ball and continue his run. If there’s one little incident that sums up what you want from your football club, this is it. Not giving up.
Between the goals, the second half got a little scrappier. We were 3-0 up with a big game on Saturday. The managers made all three substitutions with this in mind and then Didi had to come off injured. Tooting had to find another gear. And not only did they do that, this was no backs to the wall job. Nor was it win the ball back and counter with a long ball. With 10 men when they won possession back, they passed it along the ground to the player close to them in space. Moving forward as a unit. It was reminiscent of earlier, when they’d scored their second. And to me this was further proof an increased belief, maturity and football intelligence amongst the players.
Highlight - DMG goes down in the box. Penalty. Hibbert puts it in the net. The Bog End let out a cheer and a collective sigh of relief - we’re down to 10 men and we’ve scored. Job Done.
There were other things that happened on Tuesday. James Shaw made another couple of fantastic saves. DMG and Coleman pulled strings in the middle of the park. I had 4 pints of San Miguel. I saw a team that were starting to find their swagger. But more than that, between the goals, I saw the results of hours of hard work on the training pitch, and of a team growing together.
All eyes fall Saturdays tie with Dorking. Lets win the FA cup, eh?