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Todays Match report from El Canadon

Joe, who organises this group every week, had called it “Sniper’s Last Stance”, mixing the words Stand and Dance to describe the occasion, which actually isn’t a bad summary of Steve Maughan’s playing style, on a good day, anyway! Because today was all about big Steve, his last game amongst his friends at WFS before he returns permanently to Sedgefield, England this coming Sunday, which no doubt contributed to the excellent turn-out of 20 players wishing to pass on their best wishes on and off the pitch to the big man.

Unsurprisingly, it was a hot sunny morning at Fuengirola with the match obviously played on the big pitch and big goals, with ten minute water breaks the order of the day.

The team news was that we had a whopping 10-a-side game. As I normally only play on 6-a-side Sundays there were some new faces to me, all on the Blues side, with Kevo in goals, Eddie on the wing and Carlos in midfield.

Good to see Alan back after his long injury absence as well as Steve Loasby likewise reappearing to handle refereeing duties for the day. It was pre-agreed that the Goodbye Boy Steve would swap sides halfway through although this actually meant that he went from winner to loser by the final whistle.
Should have stayed with the Blues, Steve!

So, the starting line-ups were like this:-

Blue bibs

Kevo G/K
John – captain
Mark G

Pink bibs

Ces G/K
Ian – captain
Stephen Mc

Referee Steve L

The game was barely underway before the strong-looking Blues outfit took the lead. Mark who was already starting to boss the game gave John a clear shooting chance on his favoured right side and he wasted little time in planting the ball past Ces to put the Blues one up.

With strong performers like Mark, John, Kevin and Alan, the Blues were overrunning the vital midfield area with Pete also dropping back from his advanced position to crowd out their opponents and dominate possession. Ian and Joe, in particular, never flagged and covered every blade of grass exhorting their team-mates but it’s fair to say that it was pretty much one-way traffic towards the Pinks goal.

This onslaught was pressurising the backtracking Pinks and sure enough Keith stepped inside the goal area to make a saving clearance and was duly penalised with a spot-kick awarded against him.

The Blues naturally nominated Steve M to take it and he fired a strong penalty a little too close to Ces who pushed the ball up and onto the bar, at least that’s what Steve L, our ref. believed, in awarding no-goal although there were a few of us who thought it had bounced down over the line. It’s easy to crack the old one about VAR standing for Very Average Refereeing but Steve L had an excellent game, making very few contentious decisions throughout and to be fair, the Blues quickly accepted the decision and played on. Maybe Steve had an inkling he would get another chance later on…

For the Pinks Joe had a shot comfortably saved by Kevo and Ian sent a long-range effort over the bar but in truth they rarely threatened to score. There was some crisp passing and movement from the Blues whose players seemed to more often get first to the ball and be more creative with it.

A second goal was inevitable and this time John freed Pete who arrowed a shot into the far corner to double the Blues advantage.

Soon enough it was three. Maybe Keith was just determined to get Steve on the score-sheet but he transgressed into his own area again giving Steve Take 2 at converting from the spot. He made no mistake this time, firing the ball home for a popular goal.

3-0 then for the Blues at which point they generously allowed Steve to switch sides without taking an opponent in exchange leaving the sides 11 v 9 in favour of the Pinks.

That said, the flow of the game barely changed as the remaining Blues continued to play with confidence. Indeed it was against the run of play when Trevor ventured a long range shot which deceived Kevo and bounced home to give the Pinks hope at 3-1.

At last the Pinks were getting some shooting opportunities, with Darren almost breaking through after a quick turn and Steve himself going even closer with a shot dragged just wide.

This Blues side however weren’t to be denied and John restored their three goal advantage, when he blasted home an unstoppable fourth from an assist by Alan.

Trevor briefly restored hope for the Pinks with a quality finish after a champagne moment from Keith who beautifully outwitted his old sparring partner John in midfield and set Trevor up, but it was hardly a surprise when just afterwards, Pete found himself in acres of space to run in and score the last goal of the game, making the final score a 5-2 rout for the Blues which undoubtedly would have been even higher if the starting teams had finished.

In the final analysis the Pinks were outrun, outfought and out-passed by this particular Blue Man Group and unable to get any cohesion into their game. Every man-jack of them tried their heart out but this was their opponents’ day, with all the star performers wearing blue.

After the game, the group retired to the bar, augmented by KDN making a welcome appearance to pass on his felicitations to Steve, where Joe had organised drinks and snacks. Joe then stood up to give Steve a warm send-off in acknowledgement of his support for WFS these past few years as both player and organiser. Steve himself then graciously replied, stating that he hopes to still play WFS back home and may yet make a guest appearance with us, should he holiday here again in the future. He certainly goes back with all our good wishes.

While the game itself wasn’t much of a contest in truth, it seemed to me that the day was as much about celebrating the camaraderie of the group as about the result on the pitch, although I might well say that, given that I was on the losing team!

Hasta luego, Steve and bien viaje!