Ramblers 0 – Axa Vets 5

26th October 2003


Team:  Turner, A Sheehan, P Sheehan, Stiddard, Babbington, House, King, Snook, Shewring, Sykes, Howard.
Subs:  Allan, Canning.


The day started with a big surprise – Ken was there!  Not a text message or a phone call, but the man himself.  Unfortunately that was the end of the surprises as Axa did the same to us as they did twice last season, scoring 5 to win comfortably.  The only difference was that this time we did not even get a consolation goal.


The first half started off well enough for the Ramblers.  We had nearly all the possession and made several good chances.  Dave was finding lots of space on the right wing and, as ever, was providing plenty of good crosses.  The midfield was dominating the play, Duncan made a couple of good breaks into the box and it looked like it would only be a matter of time before we started scoring.  Rob had a header tipped away by the keeper from just inside the top angle; Dave had a good chance right in front of goal, which he blasted over; Jim, joining the attack had a long-range shot, which beat the keeper, but just skimmed off the top of the crossbar.


Axa, however, were content to soak up everything we threw at them and mid way through the half finally applied some pressure of their own.  After forcing us to make a couple of nervy clearances for throw-ins near the corner flag, another clearance went behind the line to give away a corner.  Unlike us they took full advantage of this opportunity and scored with a header from the corner (0 – 1).  Shortly after they extended the lead.  There were calls for offside from our side as a ball was played forward into the penalty area, but no flag.  Brian appeared to stop the strikers effort, but the ball ran free, leaving their striker all alone to shepherd it over the line into the goal (0 –2).


At this point in my notes the following passage appeared in my notebook while I was at the bar after the game.  I don’t recall this incident at all, so I will quote it exactly as written “then King broke through and showed brilliant control and skill, but the magnificently chipped ball was just over the bar”.  I must have been admiring the autumn colours of the trees or something at the time as I’m sure I would such a fine piece of play!


In the second half Tony replaced Duncan and Marcus replaced Rob after injuries to the two starters.  Early on Ken broke free for a one-on-one with the Axa keeper, but the keeper, who did not put a foot wrong the whole game, once again came out on top.  If we had pulled one back at this stage we might have been able to get back into the game, but it was not to be and the pattern of the first half was resumed, with Ramblers having most of the possession, but Axa never seeming particularly troubled.


With both our subs on a no other players fit to run the line, there was a sort of return to Ramblers duty after an absence of several years for Tyrone Storer, once a stalwart of the Redland Rangers side, who was watching the game with his young son Xavier.  Unfortunately he was not much help this time as he did not give the offside decision that some of our defenders were calling for against an Axa player who went on through to score (0 – 3).  Following this we collapsed for a while, giving away another almost immediately after the restart (0 – 4). The game was now well beyond our grasp and pushing forward rather desperately we were again caught out and conceded another (0 – 5).


Even after this we still had more chances, Tony had a shot saved low at the near post and Jim a powerful header from a corner that glanced off Tony to go just wide, but it was not to be.  It didn’t look like we were going to score however long the game went on.  It seems that Axa, with their neat, uncomplicated style know exactly how to deal with us and we will need to come up with something different if we are going to beat them another time.