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2nd February 2019 v Royal Wootton Bassett Town FC Vets

And we are back at St George’s Park for our second “Double Header” of the year. First up are Wootton Bassett. The RAF are wearing their new kit but unfortunately for me, it’s Royal Blue and, due to a clash with the socks, the RAF have volunteered to wrap tape around theirs and Gus is not happy as we only had his medical tape!! There is a good turnout for the fixture though the injured Gaz Seddon is missing, not through his injury, but the fact that he is due to film with David Beckham at Salford City’s game later today. As happens, their game is postponed due to the weather whereas we have no such problem as we are indoors on the Wembley sized 4G pitch.

RWB kick off but some good work by Barker and McCormick see the boys in blue win the ball back and attack down the right with Young taking on the defenders. Corner kick. From the resultant kick, a RWB defender gets to it first but the ball comes off his head, loops up, and crashes down on top of the bar. Another RAF corner but it comes to nothing. The RAF were looking to take the game to the opposition and good work by Pugh, then Young saw the latter get in a shot that the keeper did well to turn around the post. A mistake by Laurie in the RAF goal, when he tried to pass out to McCormick and passed straight to an RWB forward instead, almost let in RWB but the shot was high. A let off. After seven minutes the RAF take the lead when a great ball through from Thomas finds Young. A lucky bounce off the defenders shin sees Young through on goal but a great save denies his first effort. However, as the ball bounced out, Young turned and shot back over his shoulder and into the back of the net. 1-0 RAF. An amazing turn in the midfield from Bryan then drew the comment from the sidelines that “with a turn like that you should be wearing a tutu”...it really was beautiful!! Pity it came to nought. Another great ball from Thomas to Young and the striker is denied by a great save though the extra touch cost him time and space and allowed the keeper to narrow him down. Barker is replaced by Bartley due to injury after just 10 minutes and it almost paid dividends immediately when his ball forward found Young whose shot was deflected just wide for another RAF corner. With fourteen minutes on the clock, the RAF extended their lead. Bryan found Watkins and they played a nice one two before a lovely ball over the top from Watkin found McCormick storming down the left. His first time cross into the box was met by Young and the ball was slotted home. 2-0 RAF. This was a dominant performance by the RAF lads against a team who are most certainly no mugs. With the RAF full of running, constantly probing, keeping possession, the RWB lads were finding it hard to pick up and mark and the home side were taking advantage. Schofield then tried to get in on the goals but unluckily both his attempts were deflected wide. Watkins was then unlucky when a terrible ball from Bartley looked to be aimlessly heading straight to the RWB keeper but he didn’t come for it and Watkins chased it down and chipped him only to see the ball come back off the bar. In the 25th minute, Watkins got his reward when he played the ball out from the left back position to Stewart who gave him it back before it was moved inside to Thomas. His diagonal ball over the top saw Watkins, who had continued his run down the left, charging in on the box. He smashed the ball into the back of the net. 3-0 RAF. Wootton Bassett were not creating much as they were being superbly marshalled and out battled by the RAF defenders and midfield but there were no more goals despite RAF efforts and the half time whistle went with the score HT RAF 3-0 RWBT

Straight from the start the RAF are back on the front foot. Young is denied by yet another great save and Watkins shot narrowly wide but another poor pass out from Laurie was to cost the RAF when the ball was played back inside and the RWB forward tapped into an empty net. 3-1 RAF. A superb diagonal ball from Bartley, on the volley, set up another RAF attack but it was brought to an end when Schofield was fouled about 25 yards from goal. Bartley must have been buzzing after that pass and he took the free kick dispatching with aplomb into the top right corner of the goal with the RWB keeper given no chance. A great goal and 4-1 RAF with fifty minutes gone. Edwards, who had come on for Thomas at half time, had a couple of half chances before getting on the scoresheet himself in the 67th minute when a cross from the right by Watkins, with his right foot to boot, found the head of Edwards, the smallest man on the pitch, and he nodded home. 5-1 RAF. Laurie in the RAF goal then redeemed himself for his earlier error with a great save down to his left when it was odds on RWB would score and the score remained the same. Watkins was causing mayhem in the RWB ranks as his non stop running, sublime passing and crossing and his willingness to chase anything and everything was turning his markers inside out. He did it again in the 75th minute when he beat his man and played a teasing cross toward the far post where Schofield had anticipated and guided his right foot volley into the back of the net from six yards. 6-1 RAF. A long ball into the box for RWB saw the RWB player flick a header over the top of the onrushing Laurie and it’s 6-2 RAF with 76 minutes gone. Findler then gets on to a crescendo from the sidelines before Turner, another of the half time subs, gets in a shot but it’s saved. In the 85th minute, RWB get another chance and it’s taken although Milam, who had come on to replace Laurie, had blocked the initial effort as the forward bore down on goal. 6-3 RAF and that’s how it stayed. FT RAF 6-3 RWBT.

What a great squad performance from the RAF. Every player did their bit and made a very good opposition team look somewhat average on the day. A great game to watch, lots of goals and two teams who left everything out on the pitch. RWB are a very good side, as was seen when they beat us 2-0 at their place in May 2018, but today the RAF were relentless and deserved winners.

RAF Squad: Laurie, Barker, Robison, McCormick, Stewart, Bryan, Schofield, Pugh, Thomas, Watkins, Young, Turner, Findler, Robertson, Bartley, G.Edwards, R.Edwards, Milam

Other RAF representatives: Sir Chris Coville (President RAF FA Vets), Air Cdre Rich Pratley (Chairman RAF FA), Beattie (RTM), Wilkinson (Coach), Salkeld (Coach), Reeves (Fundraising), Payne (Head Therapist), Morris (Therapist), Sheehan (Head of Comms), Bones (Photo), Jones, Jamieson, Morris Jnr (Support), Hill (Therapist and Linesman)

Thanks to all the ladies who attended, the massive amount of supporters that RWB brought to the game, the staff at StGP, the RWBTFC Vets team and the Officials, without whom we would not have a game. Now to unwind!!

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