Westleigh Park, Havant
For 45 minutes it was all rather familiar. As with our past two performances we put in a rather lacklustre shift for the first period. The only illumination during it was an absolute peach of an up-n’-under welt by Dorchester’s Steve Devlin after 9 minutes that beat Nathan Ashmore’s desperate salute skywards and clipped the underside of the bar before nestling, smugly, in the net.
Yet here we stand now the victors once again, as with our past two games. Although on this occasion I think we must acknowledge a rather significant assist.
Before all this though the second half got exciting for us, in the conventional sense, when Muzzy Tiryaki uncovered the Turkish delight that he’s been hiding behind a leaden pall over the winter months. Out on the wing he looked up and noticed Dorchester’s Dan Thomas leaving just a little too much room at his near post. Instantly he unleashed a characteristic lightning bolt that singed said post on its way past the keeper, who was clearly stunned and frightened by the knowledge that if he hadn’t left that gap, there might well now be a smouldering football-sized hole in his chest.
And then…well…then it all got a little weird.
We thought we’d seen it all back in January when we were allowed to walk one in by Boreham Wood. We hadn’t seen it all then. We might well have now though. All of a sudden a fairly run of the mill Conference South fixture, albeit blessed with two splendid, hang-em-in-the-Tate, goals, went a bit hat-stand; as eccentric as a naked, feral pensioner; as erratic as a sleep-deprived and hungry bear.
Bursting from the Gary MacDonald Toilets at the Bartons Road End came a man wearing only a lime-green man-kini, a wig and a grin. Hurdling the hoardings he proceeded to mince around the pitch to the general bemusement of all, evading the marauding stewards like a soapy chimp and attempting to give Muzzy’s aris a light spank.
Now, if you ask me, if you want to carry around three Tesco Value sprouts in an all-in-one papoose, then you should probably do it in the privacy of your own sex dungeon. Yet I’ve long been aware that I can’t carry off the ‘kini, so perhaps it’s just jealousy speaking.
Eventually Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers grew weary of this farce and went in at his prey like a cuckolded bride’s father attempting to restore his daughter’s dignity with knuckles. In a car park. Nothing has been lifted and spiked into a pitch quite so hard since Graeme Souness declared it flag day at Fenerbache.
By the letter of the law though, despite cleaning up a clear irritant, this was violent conduct and no amount of protest by both sets of players was going to change Vickers’ destiny. The benefits of this were two fold – ten men to play against plus the Dorchester player who had been undertaking the regular opposition tactic (i.e. wind-Muzzy-up-til-he-gets-himself-sent-off) had himself been removed.
By now Dorchester’s composure, both in terms of their players and their supporters, was utterly buried, possibly beneath a streaker-shaped divot in our turf. Not long after we had taken the lead with Wes Fogden following in a parried Steve Ramsay shot, Jake Smeeton went into Guiseppe Sole like a juggernaut through the central reservation, was told to depart, and after a linesman’s intervention, Kyle Critchell was also tunnelled for his part in the following melee.
With Dorchester now three men light it was quite simple to carve them open for the injury time Steve Ramsay goal that killed it. After the final whistle, a Dorchester player threw the ball at the ref as though trying to dislodge a coconut balanced on his head, but survived a red card simply because the man in black just clearly wanted to go home at this stage.
So, we’re not playing wonderfully but we’re winning. Three on the trot now and our tactics in future seem obvious.
If all else fails, bring Borat on for the last 15.