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RAF FA Vets v RN FA Vets at St George’s Park 17th March 2022

Well it was finally back on, after a break that seemed like an eternity, the Inter Services got the go ahead for 2022 and first up for the boys in blue would be the Navy.

The last time these two sides met was back in 2019 at TNS with the RAF running out 5-1 winners but both sides have come a long way since then and this game was expected to be a much closer affair.

A couple of late changes for various reasons meant the RAF squad was slightly different to that named in the programme but not to worry…the replacements would be more than capable.

The Navy kicked off the first half and it was a typical inter Service game with lots of action but little penetration in the areas. That said, both keepers had to be on top form a couple of times with the Navy keeper the busier of the two. That changed in the 29th minute however when following a Navy attack, the ball was picked up by Grove in the right back position and he played a searching long ball that the Navy defender tried to head clear. It came off his head the wrong way and Norton chased it and beat the keeper to it to calmly slot the ball past him and into the net. 1-0 RAF. Both sides looked to play neat football and from my vantage point high up, some pretty patterns of play could be seen. This was a good game to watch. Neutrality ensued however as both sides were cancelling each other out but that changed again in the 43rd minute when the Navy won a free kick halfway inside the RAF half. The kick was launched into the box and despite Potts, in the RAF goal, trying to punch clear the ball fell to a Navy player who promptly slotted home to make it 1-1. I’ve said time and time again that these RAF boys don’t let small things like conceding affect them so it was no surprise that within 2 minutes they had regained the lead when some lovely quick play saw Norton run through on goal and, again, calmly slot home. The half time whistle came seconds later. HT RAF 2-1 RN

The second half, in my opinion, was not the same as the first. The Navy seemed to be on top for the first 15 minutes of the half with the RAF struggling to put two passes together. That said, the Navy failed to take advantage as the RAF defence stood strong. Once that first 15 was out of the way however, neutrality resurfaced and both teams tried and failed to capitalize in the box with both goalkeepers making smart saves and once again it was the Navy keeper who was the busiest making some exceptional saves at times. Those of us supporting the RAF were counting down the minutes however as this was nail biting time now and with just a minute left I almost lost my fingers. The Navy broke down the right and the speedy winger played in a peach of a ball that the Navy striker, barely 8 yards out, smashed goalwards. Potts was going the wrong way but somehow managed to stop himself and throw out his left hand. It hit the ball and the ball went wide of the post. What a save!! No time for congratulations though, the Navy had a corner which was swung in, half cleared, swung in again and half cleared again before the referee decided enough time had been played and blew the final whistle. FT: RAF 2-1 RN.

A great game all in all and a credit to both Services. The never say die attitude of the RAF overcame a solid, much improved Navy side but for both teams it was only game 1 of the two that each will play. The Army up next for both sides with the RAF playing on 23rd March at Sandhurst and the Navy playing on 30th March at Portsmouth.

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