1999-2000 League Table
|Puckering 3 E. Imbiben 2 Win||
Match reports by kind permission of the New Gazette
Puckering 3 E. Imbiben 2
Gotcha! Imbiben Soundly Beaten
For Puckering it was Dunkirk, The Alamo, Custer's Last Stand and the Charge of the Light Brigade all rolled into one. As each man took to the field steely-eyed, he knew that before them lay their toughest challenge.
From the first, the waves of Imbiben's impressive firepower threatened to drown the defense of Puckering. Yet one man stood ever valiant against the rampaging foe, and that man was Knobbly. Against every Imbiben attack, he stood firm, except on the two occasions when Imbiben scored. But it was a counter-attack that led them to the first scent of victory. Gladstone shot up the wing like a fighter plane, his cross fell like a bomb onto the willing pate of Andy 'The Head' Burstow, and from there it was a short nod to the goal. Puckering were behind 2-1.
Walsham rallied his team with a strong half-time speech. "I told them we will fight them in the middle, we'll fight them on the sides and we'll fight them in the penalty box," said Walsham proudly. "And they responded magnificently."
If the first half was a battle, then the second half was a war. Yet the Irregulars soldiered on with their backs to the wall and Andrews unmoved in goal. And then from nowhere the game was tied. Bolger's frantic boot from the heart of the defense was picked up by Ferdinand in no-man's land. Yet probably no-one was more surprised than he when his shot rifled past the keeper, like a bullet from a gun, for the Irregulars second goal.
Yet it was still not enough.
The Irregulars finest hour came with only a minute left. Emerging from the trenches, Knobbly barreled up the middle like a racing tank, his cross rocketing off the Imbiben defenders and into the path of young Burstow. He made no mistake, the ball hit the back of the net, and victory was theirs.
The Irregulars live to fight another day.
Report by Lumpy Gaites
Kentish Wanders 2 Irregulars 1
Puckering lost their way against the Wanderers Saturday and now face time in the wilderness of village football. They will finish the season against the all-conquering E. Imbiben and need a win to stay in the league. For manager Bert Walsham it is time to look for the positives.
"Its not been an easy season for us but I think weve shown clear signs of improvement. We were in the game until the end and it wasnt over until the final whistle. You know I wish I could be out there with the lads, but I know my place. Ill stay on the touchlines encouraging them on."
Albert Bell, captain of the Wanderers, was blunt about Puckerings skills. "Well theyre awful, really. You feel embarrassed to only win by one goal. The young lad can play a bit, but hes a child amongst men. Knobbly relies on his reputation, but the only thing he can hit with any accuracy is other players. Their wingers cant cross, the midfield cant pass and their goalkeepers main attribute is that hes so fat that he creates his own gravity and draws the ball in."
When asked for his opinion on these comments, Walsham replied that he was sure things
would be a bit friendlier in the Boy Scout league.
Report by Lumpy Gaites
Irregulars 1 Ballsgate 1
In a small field a man awoke to find the sun setting, his companions gone, and his new neighbour a raging bull. To stay would be foolish, to run idiotic. The beast must be faced and some token taken, before he could leave with pride.
So it was last Saturday as Puckering, playing for their footballing lives faced Ballsgate, a team who they have not beaten in ten years. The game swung backwards and forwards over two halves until a late goal by Ballsgate seemed to leave the Irregulars fatally wounded. But as the watchers sighed young Burstow gathered the ball on an incisive pass from his father and with a quick strike slipped it through the defenses of the Ballsgate goalkeeper. Father and son were seen to nod approval as the result leaves Puckering needing two more points from their last two games. Report by Lumpy Gaites
West Bean 1 Irregulars 3
Facing hated rivals West Bean and missing young Burstow, (suspended after his brush with the law) the Irregulars came out on top in a hard fought game. The derisive chants of Ogee Ogee Ogee, Oi Oi Oi seemed to inspire Knobbly Lyles to new feats of footballing ferocity. He scored his first goal on the season burying both the ball and goalkeeper in the back of the net in a aggressive charge. Another goal, on a cross-cum-shot by winger Gladstone, quietened the crowd for a while. But when Bean pulled on back their yobbish supporters were back to questioning how irregular the puckering players are.
When Ferdinand back-heeled the winning goal with three minutes to go manager Bert Walsham's joy was unconfined and Lyles made a gesture that the cub scout's would not have endorsed. For Walsham some of the crowd's comments were out of line "I can take the odd joke about us not being able to be stopped, but when they threw laxatives out there. Well it turned my stomach."
Puckering now need three points from their last three games to stay in the league.
Featherstone 4 Irregulars 1
The Irregulars, missing Knobbly Lyles, fell to ignominious defeat last Saturday and now need five points from four games to avoid expulsion from the league. Given Puckering's likely opponents next year, it doesn't take Alanis Morisette to see the irony in Knobbly's absence being due to a cub scout convention.
Without Lyles intimidating presence, Puckering were no match for Featherstone's light touch. Moving the ball around at will, their old but still magical midfielder, Joey Greaves, floated across several enticing crosses which were stroked with perfect ease by Featherstones main striker Frank Lambent.
For manager Walsham there some pleasure in the work of young striker Burstow, who scored again in this game. Bert pointed out that his youth policy was now being followed at the national level by Kevin Keegan. "Although we came away at the wrong end of this one we were in it until the end and I didnt really think it was over until the referee blew the final whistle. Five points from four games does mean we need to win one though, to get us back on track, but the lads played their heart outs and you cant ask for more than that."
Irregulars 1 Wooden Forest 1
The Puckering Irregulars may have lost a battle on Saturday, but the tactics of their manager, Bert Walsham, may eventually win them the war. For the first time this season Puckering were actually leading a game, thanks to the quickness of young striker Burstow, and the intimidating defense of Knobbly Lyles. Wooden Forest's back four seemed rooted to the spot compared to the speed of Puckering's first-time goal scorer and both he and the ball ended up in the net after a glorious run through the middle. At the back Lyles' reputation stood before him like bad breath on a first date, and none came near. Yet once again Lyles' temper got the better of him and, after being cautioned for barking at the Forest center forward, he was admonished by the referee and given a yellow card. Knobbly reacted to the unjustified caution by kicking the ball at the referee. Unfortunately, given the general accuracy of the Irregulars, he struck him on the back of the head. It was now that the manager stepped in.
"What Knobbly did was unprofessional, but I dont think he meant the ball to hit him. Anyway the ref was stunned a bit, so whilst he was gathering his wits and getting the grass out of his glasses, I substituted Knobbly. When the ref came to and tried to send him off, he was already gone! He'll now be available next week and I think we'll have him taking the free kicks!"
Without Lyles, the Irregulars stumbled at the end and their opponents swept forward like leaves driven by the wind. But determined defense kept Forest to a single goal, allowing them to come away with a draw and a valuable point.
"Actually we're ex-stat, what's the word I'm looking for? Anyway we're dead chuffed," grinned a cheerful Walsham. "We now need five points from five games. We'll just have to take them one game at a time."
St. Annes 5 Irregulars 1
Still without a win this season Puckering fell 5-1 to local rival St. Annes. The one bright spot for Puckering was a goal by Young Burstow, son of goalkeeper Andy The Head Burstow. The youngster had been drafted because of a shortage of players for Puckering and, though regularly knocked off the ball, his pace troubled St. Annes throughout the game. His Dad noted with pride that the young lad could have scored several times had he not passed the ball at the end of several exciting runs. Puckering striker Ferdinand, still experimenting with shooting with his left foot, had several attempts on goal that left the nearby squirrels guarding their nuts.
Despite the sixth consecutive loss, manager Bert Walsham was upbeat. Were consistent," he noted, "we have been able to manage to play to the same standard each week, which is something we can build on." More helpful to Puckering may be the fact that Knobbly Lyles will be back on the field next week. Knobbly is finishing a long suspension after taking a chunk out of an opponent's leg. He is expected to put some bite back into the defense.
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