EnglandFans FC 1-2 Peru FC
The Anglo-Peruvian Friendship
Friday 30 May
Bedfont & Feltham Football Club
On an overcast afternoon at The Orchard, the fans of England and Peru served up a veritable feast of exciting football in front of an expectant crowed swelled by a large and noisy contingent supporting Peru FC. Such was the commitment shown by the players from both teams, that this was a game that would see one EnglandFans FC player taken to hospital before the clock had reached the 15 minute mark and the Three Lions goalkeeper taken off, late on, with a badly bruised hand.
Prior to the match, one minute’s silence was impeccably observed by both the teams and spectators in memory of three historic football disasters which had occurred during the month of May: the Bradford City fire and Heysel tragedies from May 1985 and the world’s worst football disaster which occurred at the Estadio Nacional, Lima, Peru in May 1964.
EnglandFans FC lined-up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation and included three debutants in their starting line-up, strikers Donavan Goodhall and Marlow FC’s Marcus Mealing and 15 year old central defender, Owen Story. The Three Lions fans team soon had Peru FC on the back foot, getting in behind their back four time and again. Striker, Oliver Pearman had two decent chances which he spurned, one of which he elected, somewhat unselfishly, to try and square the ball to debutant Don Goodhall, when it looked easier to pass the ball into the net! Left back, Richie Moore struck a rising, thunderous drive, which had ‘goal!’ written all over it until the faintest of touches by Peru FC’s ‘keeper sent the ball crashing onto the bar. Midfield maestro, Rob Russell, struck a superb direct free-kick from 25 yards which smacked against the crossbar, without the visitor’s ‘keeper moving a foot such was the quality of the shot. With Goodhall and Mealing causing problems either side of Pearman and with strong back up from the midfield trio of Russell, Craig Thompson and Luke Craig, it was EnglandFans FC who were making all the running and looking destined to take control of the match. However, this Peru FC team had experience in abundance and gradually started to play their way into the game. The Three Lions defensive plans were thrown into chaos when skipper, Mark Tighe, dislocated his thumb, following an innocuous looking challenge, and had to be driven to the local A+E where he was to spend most of the afternoon! With substitute Samuel Todd on in Tighe’s place and Richie Moore donning the captain’s armband, Peru FC really started to take the game to England. However, Owen Story started to display the kind of form which has led him to come to the attention of a number of local clubs and he put in a very mature defensive display which belied his 15 years. Strong in the tackle, good in the air, Story even started to organise his more experienced defensive colleagues. Story was certainly not fazed by the experience of playing senior football at such a young age and he did not look out of place in such exalted company.
It was against this backdrop and against the run of play the Peru FC took the lead. A contentious, direct free-kick, awarded to Peru, for a reason only the match official will ever know, on the edge of the box, did not look particularly dangerous. However, a porous Three Lions defensive wall, allowed the ball to go through it that Damian Turner could not hold and which was swept home by an alert Peru FC striker. At this point, the game was still there for the taking with both full backs, Moore on the left and right back, Sam Shethran, getting well forward and putting some dangerous balls into the mixer. But the game became a bit scrappy as the first half drew to a close and it was the La Blanquirroja who went in at the break with their noses in front.
The Three Lions fans team made a number of changes at the break with Chad Thomas coming on at right back, debutant Simon Hartshorn filling in at left back, Tommy Huckstepp on in midfield, alongside debutant Fezaan Azam and Joe Ovenall. A new striking partnership of debutants in the shape of Samuel Ayo and Ola Akinwande also took to the field at the start of the second half as EnglandFans FC switched to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation.
But it was Peru FC who started the second period the stronger team and they soon nudged themselves further in front with a bizarre goal. With the ball bobbing around in the box, and the Three Lions defence failing to clear the danger, the ball suddenly looped in an arc, almost in slow motion, over a static English defence, who were all guilty of ball watching, onto the far post and into the net. This set-back seemed to galvanise EnglandFans FC who set about the task of trying to retrieve the situation in earnest. A number of chances fell England’s way with the usually reliable Ovenall spurning three of them. The deficit was quickly reduced when quick-thinking Akinwande marked his debut with a goal from a smart free-kick routine engineered by Rob Russell. With the Peruvian defence not very alert, Russell played in a quick ball, along the deck, which Akinwande, making a diagonal run, latched onto and fired home low across the despairing dive of the visitor’s ‘keeper. With England piling on the pressure it seemed only a matter of time before the equaliser would arrive and Peru FC rode their luck culminating in the greatest escape you’ll see this side of Steve McQueen! The impressive Azam lifted a ball over the top of Peru’s back four, into the box, which Rob Russell got to just before the advancing visitor’s ‘keeper and nudged the ball towards the goal. As the ball got almost on the line, a Peruvian defender got backed and hooked the ball clear only for it to hit another onrushing Peru defender on the head and clear the bar! It couldn’t have got any closer to an equaliser! With Ayo linking well with Akinwande and chances coming and going, Peru FC stepped up to the plate and manfully defended their one goal advantage. The game became frantic and, at times, physical and tetchy, but it was Peru FC who hung on and deservedly took the honours.