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Aki 7’s, 6 October 2017, Day 3 - Knockout Stages

It’s funny but I was thinking last night about how Day 2 had gone and that the lads seemed tired at the start and seemed to get better and then I thought on...we had a break of a couple of hours after Game 8 and we all went to the beach for a bit of relaxation and sun. I think the sea water (as well as Gus) may have had an impact on the aching muscles as when we returned, we won both games...hmmmmm.

Game 11 v JLS 1. Quarter Final Carter Cup.Taylor, Smith, Hodges, Rooney, Clarke, Clive, Edwards. Subs. Mallinson, Robison, Coull, Aitkenhead.

Aitkenhead returns to the bench as it is identified that he can be our “impact sub”. JLS kick off in what is, the quarter final of the main competition. The first chance falls to JLS but it’s wide then another shot, that is going nowhere hits a JLS player who then regains his composure and smashes it into the net. 1-0 JLS. A great ball from Clive finds Edwards but a last ditch tackle sees the ball out for a Vets corner. At the other end, a great defensive header from Clarke halts another JLS attack but from the resultant corner the ball is played back to the edge of the box from where a cracking shot comes in that smashes against the bar and back out to safety. Half time and it’s 1-0 JLS.

Coull on for Edwards and Robison on for Clarke as the second half starts. A cut in from the right and a left foot shot sees JLS extend their lead it’s now 2-0 JLS. Clarke back on for Smith but he cant stop JLS scoring again and it’s now 3-0. Hodge attempts an audacious shot from close to the half way line but it’s just over the bar and the vets are being kept at bay here. A great save from Taylor sees JLS win a corner that comes to nothing and the final whistle goes. 3-0 JLS and although the main competition has now gone, the Vets have qualified for the Plate competition and we are now in the competition we won last year and we shall attempt to retain it.

Game 12 v Flamingoes. Quarter Final Plate Competition. Taylor, Robison, Hodges, Rooney, Clarke, Clive, Edwards. Subs. Smith, Coull, Beattie, Aitkenhead.

Flamingoes kick off and the game ebbs and flows as neither side commit to much as losing is not an option. A shot from Rooney is saved before a save at the other from Taylor keeps the scores level. A shot from Hodges is put out for a corner before Rooney gets on the end of the kick as it’s taken short and his shot is saved. Edwards marauds into the box again but this time he is upended by the big defender and the ref gives a penalty. Rooney steps up to take in the absence of Smith on the pitch and it’s well taken and in the net. 1-0 Vets. Good work down the left between Edwards and Clarke sees the final shot from Clarke fly just over before another ball into the box sees the ref give another penalty. Clarke wants this one and cooly slots it past the keeper. 2-0 Vets and the half time whistle goes.

Smith is on for Clive and the Vets kick off. With a two goal lead it’s a case of save the legs and the Vets are just passing the ball around with the odd attempt at goal. Hodges has one charged down. Coull comes on for Clarke before a good save from an Edwards shot. Clive then comes on for Rooney as the gaffer is trying to save tired limbs for a semi final. The Vets are just playing the ball around before it’s time for the “impact sub”. Aitkenhead on for Edwards and 10 seconds later the full time whistle sounds. What an impact!! 2-0 Vets.

Another long break ensues so it’s all back to the beach hoping the aches and pains will once again magically disappear before it’s back to the ground for the business part of the day.

Game 13 v Real Chadwell. Semi Final Plate Competition. Taylor, Robison, Hodges, Rooney, Clarke, Clive, Edwards. Subs. Smith, Coull, Mallinson, Beattie, Aitkenhead.

Real kick off and the ball is straight back to their keeper. The ref plays adavantage when the Vets clearly don’t have any and the ref gets an earbashing from the line as Real come away with the ball. Edwards wins the ball in midfield and releases Clarke who goes round the defender but the keeper makes a good save from his shot. Another nutmeg from Edwards sees the Combined Services Cyprus centre forward cursing his luck although he did give Russ a nod and a wink. The Real forward soon makes amends when he rounds Taylor and slots the ball home. 1-0 Real. Another quick break sees Real on the attack again down the right. The cross is just waiting to be tapped in but the centre forward completely misses his kick and passes the ball back to Taylor and it stays 1-0. That was a let off. From the next Vets attack, Real break again and with Taylor on the edge of his box the strike from fully 60 yards sails over his head and into the net. 2-0 Real Chadwell and that’s the way it stayed till half time.

Coull on for Rooney and the Vets kick off. The keeper makes a great save again from Coull but Real break again and extend their lead with a nice dinked finish over Taylor after a defence splitting pass. Mallinson on for Robison and then a good run down the right by Clarke sees the keepers fingertips take the ball off the head of the waiting Coull. The Vets tried and tried but they had no luck and the game petered out. When the final whistle went it was 3-0 to Real Chadwell and the Vets journey was over...or was it?

Everyone who attended did the Vets family proud and I was proud to be a part of it again. Although there was no silverware this year, the lads improved on last season in qualifying for the main tournament and but for injuries and a bit more luck, we may well have been coming home with some silver again. That said, the Carter Cup winners Odiham, whilst celebrating, forgot to keep an eye on their trophy and it was held overnight by the Vets #stayaware, #schoolboyerror though it was given back to them before they flew home.

Again thanks to all those who took part and especially to those who represented the RAF FA Vets family:

Matt Beattie, Geoff Hancocks, Andy McCulloch, Gus Payne, Jim Sheehan, Scott Taylor, Darren Robison, Mickey Clarke, Mally Mallinson, Dougie Coull, Russ Edwards, Mark Rooney, Gary Clive, Mark Smith, Adam Hodges, Dave Pye, Mickey Bartley, Mike Bartley, Ian Aitkenhead, Stevie Tindle, Richard Lancaster, Darrell Kerr and if I’ve forgotten anyone, I’m sure you’ll put me right and I can edit.

I could tell you about Roon’s singing on the karaoke, Stevie Tindle’s rubber legs or how good myself and Darrell Kerr are at pool (ask Matt and Russ) but I’ll leave that till “pull up a sandbag time”. Needless to say...all top class!!

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