Men's Saturday Team 3-0 Men's Sunday Team
In the penultimate week before the Christmas break in United’s men’s footballing calendar, a festive friendly was organised between the two more established teams. The Saturday Team, playing their second match in as many days, faced off against the Sunday Team, hosted at a somewhat appropriately frost-covered Springburn Park.
From the first whistle both teams looked like they’d consumed all their advent calendar chocolate at once as a pre-match snack, playing at a frantic speed.
As the Saturday Team looked to find their passing rhythm early on, the Sunday group pestered them like a child at first light on Christmas morning. Their desire was evident and they were almost ahead when Calum’s towering header was cleared off the line by Alan. An action replay soon followed as the club’s chairperson was again ideally placed to scoop the ball clear after Calum connected well with another corner kick.
The Saturday Team took the lead on the half hour mark through Mohammed Bokor. The spritely attacker, making the step up from the club’s Development Team, impressed throughout and profited from chasing down what seemed a lost cause when he was presented an early Christmas present of both the ball and an empty net to roll it into after the goalkeeper got himself into a terrible tangle. Sean could have doubled his side’s lead soon after as he ran clear and rounded the goalkeeper but was made to look a right pudding as he skewed his shot wide of the empty net. Sabeel hobbling off diminished the Sunday side’s early sparkle in attack but combinations between three wise men - Eddie, Calum and Chris Priestly - caused problems throughout the game.
With passions running high, Bogdan and Chris Priestley had themselves a traditional festive family feud in the middle of the opposition box after another promising break was spurned. All was forgiven however, possibly put down to too much mulled wine, as chances continued flowing at both ends. Not long after Eddie dragged his shot agonisingly wide of Fraser’s post, Stephen’s magnificent acrobatic goal line clearance was all that prevented Sean once more. Nana Yaw-Rabbi might have added to the Saturday Team’s advantage just before half time but had his shot smothered whilst looking like he had both feet stuck inside the same stocking.
The Saturday Team re-emerged for the second period as eleven pipers piping looking to double their advantage but, despite some passing moves smoother than a Mark and Spencers festive advert, the Sunday Team defended stoutly and their directness in attack kept busy the defensive elves in the Saturday rear-guard.
Having turned out for all three of the club’s men’s teams already this season, Rabbi had harboured pre-match ambitions of playing a half for both teams. With a penchant for mistiming runs, the attacker treats the offside line like the turkey treats the oven – neither wants to go there but everybody knows who is getting roasted at the end of the day. On this occasion the Sunday team were denied his service due to call-offs among the Saturday group after their match the previous day. They would come to regret it as a big part of his side’s doubling their advantage was due to a Christmas miracle wonder-pass from the Ghanaian. In possession wide in the attacking third with seemingly little options available, Rabbi’s pass dissected 3 players among the Sunday backline. Sean was first to latch on to it and lashed a left-footed volley beyond the keeper.
The second goal briefly took the wind from Sunday sails but a reply looked imminent as they finished the game strongly. Calum stung Fraser’s palms from distance and the keeper did well again rushing out to deny Eddie at close range after a well worked move.
Second half substitutions were frequent between both teams and referee as injuries and rotation dictated. Despite the frenetic pace to the game there was time for a heart-warming moment when David Thomson, having trained with the Saturday group over recent months during recovery from a harrowing knee injury, replaced Scott and took to the field to taste competitive action for the first time in over two years, his first in a United shirt. With assured touches he was quickly in the thick of things and, as though navigated by a star above, his attacking instinct found him involved in a break forward that unwrapped the defence and he calmly slotted home the killer third goal.
Admirable intent remained however among Sunday ranks and sprouts of attacking continued. Both Bogdan and Chris Priestley shot wide from promising positions but Laurie came closest, seeing his shot undeservingly flash just the wrong side of the far post to cap off a flowing attacking move. Bobby and Paul Georgie let-fly from distance late on as the Saturday side looked for something sweet for dessert. Chris Malone has never scored for United and was denied a stunning Christmas Number One by a wonderful one-handed save from John late on as he turned away screaming alternative Christmas carols of frustration.
A highly entertaining game in all. One both coaches draw positives from. What is certain though is, no matter which team he plays for during the remainder of the season, all United coaches want for Christmas is Yaw to learn the offside rule!
Saturday Team: Fraser, Gerry, Scott, Alan, Paul, Chris, China, David P, Rabbi, Mohammed, Sean
Subs: David T, Bobby
Goals: Mohammed, Sean, David T
Sunday Team: John, Laurie, Stephen, Mike, Severiano, Eddie, Ben, Sabeel, Calum, Chris, Neil
Subs: Bogdan, Barry