Callum Gigg (12) V (10) Gareth O’Neill
Callum Gigg came back from almost certain defeat to overcome Gareth O’Neill in the third place playoff of the Team Picker Cup.
Often branded the game that no-one cares to win, the defeated semi-finalists did not let their exits from the competition soften their desire to win third place in the inaugural TTFE Team Picker Cup. Next week’s final between Jon Ridout and Billy Collins would have to put aside for now as these competitors were not ready to leave the stage.
In truth, the game was not a spectacle worthy of a final but offered plenty of goals for the neutral spectator. It has to be said though as the awful weather conditions, varying from light drizzle to heavy downpour did not heklp matters. The to-ing and fro-ing of the rain disrupted any form of rhythm or momentum in the game, forcing errors and changing gameplans accordingly. As one wise man at TTFE once decreed, this type of match would be won by the side which played the pitch, not the opposing team. Foolish be the side that played their football long and high and fortune to favour whose who embark on brave, darting runs. Or indeed the side that had maritime maestro Michael Pinto Castro.
Like a duck to water, Mike revelled in the rain and caused havoc for Team Callum’s defence. With Stuart Parsons in support and the heroics of keeper Billy Collins, they looked comfortable by maintaining lead of 8-5 at half time. But Team Callum also had a gambit of their own – Gareth Jenkins. For weeks he has steadily improved, in particular at the sole man attack role which he has begun to call his own. Where he was known for pace in the past, his elegant touch which he has always been blessed with will now be his TTFE trademark. By forming an effective partnership with Chris Phillips they kept the game within reach for their team.
In the second half with the weather worsening the game became less like aquatic chess but rather a comedy of errors. With each over hit pass or heavy touch on the ball, the struggle hold onto the ball became more of an issue than finding the net. The conditions were ripe for pinball scrambles in the box and long shots – two of the goalkeeper’s great fears in the rain.
However the game would find a real turning point with 10 minutes to go. Gareth must have had devastating deja vu which would change turn the game on its head. Just like in his semi final against Jon Ridout, his side suffered from an injury – but this time it was goalkeeper Billy Collins not himself. Team G was forced to play with a man down as he stood on the sidelines, which gave the advantage to Team Callum to hunt for goals. Collins eventually came back into play, but it was too late – Callum had grabbed the lead for the first and most important time to win the tie.
Gareth will be disappointed to lose yet another tie in similar circumstances after a blistering start in the Team Picker Cup. It may also be the case that he has played his last game at TTFE for the foreseeable future so we wish him well. Callum on the other hand, clearly feeling that his team pick had paid off in the end, looked to the sky and thanked the heavens whilst claiming “the weather has helped us”.
|Team ‘G Unit’ (L-R Tom, Billy, Mike, Paul, G, Stu)|
|Team Callum (L-R Pugh, Chris, Callum, Joe, Gaji, Greg)|