The battle of Soldiers Field.
An all-new venue for this week’s top of the table clash with North Leeds. One which seemed to cause complete mayhem with some parents and their Sat Navs: several deciding to take in views of Roundhay Park & Lake en-route.
A lovely September morning, a decent (if slightly sloping pitch) and a proper ref in full FA Black kit to get the game underway.
For once, we started with a bang, like Ben Stokes on Stella. Decisive, incisive and packing some serious punches. And, it wasn’t long before the pressure started to tell, with Jenson going close from a great diagonal ball from Finn.
The early pressure was building. Another great long throw from Charlie found Josh on halfway, who played a nice ball to Joe on the edge of the box. Some ‘Pablo Hernandez-esque’ footwork to lose the defender and he found Harry with a neat reverse pass. Then Harrie, as Harrie normally does, made a sublime looping shot over the keeper look ridiculously easy. Another contender for goal of the season!
1 nil and the sound of “Run…my beautiful baby Roundhay rabbits, run” echoes around Soldiers Field thanks to resident cheerleader Liz (who had finally arrived via the Lakeside café).
“What bloody rabbits? We’re not watching Watership Down are we? said one of the confused North Leeds parents.
Meanwhile, the boys continued to press, with Josh grafting as always in the engine room, breaking up play and distributing wisely throughout.
Jake & Ollie R entered the fray for Jenson & Finn (who took a knock to the ankle).
Both subs made an impact straight away. After a great burst of pace down the right, Ollie found Harry inside, a neat one two with Joe, and Jake was in on goal, going very close with a great shot on the half volley.
North Leeds were still in this game though, and a long range effort was spectacularly tipped onto the bar by Charlie.
As our early dominance waned, North Leeds grew into the game. Their pacey striker causing us problems on the break. Only some resolute defending from Luke, Oliver & Connor and some absolutely amazing saves from ‘Charlie the Cat’ took us into the break un-breached.
The second half begins and we’re back on the front-foot. Connor driving forward well and Jenson & Harry both going close from distance.
Another swift break from Ollie R, and the ball breaks to Jenson 20 yards out. One touch and he pings the sweetest of strikes ‘arrow-like’ into the top right corner. Another goal of the season contender!
Next up, a free kick from Harry rebounds off the wall, and Joe smacked a lovely left foot shot goal-bound, only to see it tipped onto the post by the keeper.
It’s proper end-to-end stuff now, as North Leeds hit the post at the other end.
Closely followed by a fearless 20 yard dash by Charlie to intercept their oncoming striker, only to sprint back onto his line and get down low to save with his left hand. Unbelievable Jeff!
The opposition were now on top. Clearance after clearance. Save after save. Including one crazy moment when Charlie tipped one brilliantly onto the bar only for it to bounce back, glance off his head and into his glue-like gloves. Was it going to be our day?
Eventually though, even our brave defenders and Superhero keeper were beaten by a nice move and a goal that was probably deserved.
2:1 Bloody hell, here we go again
As so often happens at every level of the game, one goal often leads to another. And guess what….a sweeping move found their striker in the clear to slide an equaliser into the corner.
2:2 Where’s the Valium Jim? This one’s going to the wire!
The North Leeds lads were well up for this now, but fear not ‘SuperKeeps’ saved the day again; leaping like a salmon to palm yet another salvo beyond the upright. I’m running out of superlatives here, as by now the young ‘Driver Diver’ had already secured the touchline parent’s MoM award.
With minutes to go and mutters of “We’ll take a point here” and “a draw’s a fair result”…. us parents see a white shirted blur bombing down the left,. it’s Connor with the ball…Jenson’s in the box. Can he find him? Yes he can. Can he kick it? Yes he can. Straight in the top corner. Right on the button, Jenson! (See what I did there?)
And so, with the chequered flag in sight and no Valium left….there’s just time for one last great stop from Charlie before the proper ref blows his proper whistle, on a proper game of football.
Great team performance. I for one will never forget the “Rabbits raid at Roundhay”.