Sonning 3rd XI vs Wallingford 2nd XI
Penultimate pre-season game
Our tale begins at the Doom Bar Arena, Sonning Lane. Our heroes, the Sonning Men’s Third team, were faced with their final challenge of pre-season; Wallingford. Here was one final opportunity for both seasoned Sonning veterans and new boys alike to impress His Esteemed Holiness, Glorious Leader Stoney before the season begins in earnest. Lining up in for his first start, debutant Craig Bond brought his smelliest keepers kit to distract and terrify the opposition.
Wallingford started the match confidently, making use of early possession to recycle the ball through their team and deploying a high forward to stretch the Sonning defence. However, patience is a virtue and after some solid defensive work Sonning were soon able to pounce on loose passes and establish themselves in the match. Spurred on by cheering from the Andy Beasley fan-club on the sidelines, the midfield worked overtime with Chris Roberts and David Painter utilising the aerial to devastating effect, finding the incisive runs of Harvey Richardson and Scott Daughters in behind the high defensive line, creating chance after chance. From them on, Wallingford were confined to only the odd counter attack, as well as one hairy moment where Andy Beasley very sportingly allowed himself to be tackled, putting the opposition forward through one-on-one with the keeper, Craig Bond, who was equal to the challenge and ensured no goals were conceded against the run of play.
Halted only by the heroics of the Wallingford goalkeeper and a goal line clearance, Sonning failed to convert multiple short corner attempts leaving the game still tied at the end of the first half.
A rousing speech from our Captain and Glorious Leader provided some much needed encouragement and once their respective battle wounds had been patched up, the team returned to the pitch with fire and Haribo Tangfastics in their bellies.
The siege on the Wallingford goal continued, and strong link-up down the right wing between Steve Workman and Elliot Wise created a chance which saw Chris Stone, Glorious Leader, with an empty net to pass into. Alas! A repeat of the last week’s final-minute display and the ball was blocked and cleared by a particularly tenacious defender. But all was not lost and just moments later Chris Stone again found himself with an acre of space in the D. This time he converted and Sonning had a deserved lead.
Encouraged by the break through, Sonning pressed on and soon found themselves another goal in the form of hard-running Elliot Wise who finished coolly as the ball bobbled around Wallingford D.
Sensing that their opponent was struggling against superior fitness and mesmerising skills, Sonning turned the screw again down the right wing as right-back Nathan Toms risked altitude sickness to drive forward with the ball like a knife through butter, exchanging a quick one-two with the mercurial Ian Ta before crashing a flicked shot past the keeper and against the post. Opportunistic Richardson continued his fine scoring form by popping up for the rebound to make it 3-0 to Sonning.
Wallingford rallied, attacking down both flanks and forcing Colin Singleton to put in a couple of important tackles against the onrushing forwards. Andy Beasley decided that he wanted to offer up another chance with a delightfully weighted pass to the forward stood in front of him, but this was swiftly cleared up by the covering Toms.
Once the slightly swaying ship had been steadied by the cool-headed and hard-running duo of Painter and Daughters, who put Mo Farah to shame with the miles they covered, Sonning again found themselves on the front foot, continuing to probe down both flanks and causing the Wallingford defence all sorts of trouble. Finally, to cap off a fine Captains performance, Chris Stone scored the fourth and final goal of the match and to assert his place as our Glorious Leader.
As the preseason games draw to an epic conclusion, Sonning will find many reasons for optimism for the forthcoming season and will no doubt look to carry their current form forward into the next battle.
Man of the Match: Scott 'Tenacious' D for his relentless tenacity
Dick of the Day: Andy Beasley for bringing the Andy Beasley fan club and for his multiple suicide passes to the opposition centre forwards.
Match report written by Nathan Toms