Two worlds colliding. Tectonic shifts. Fire and brimstone. Pushing and pulling. Heat, and above all else… pressure.
All these terms could be applied to the events of Turf City, Pitch Two, last Saturday. They could also be applied to the creation of minerals.
For those less familiar with British gangster films, of the late early noughties, “Have you got the minerals?”, actually relates less to geology and instead roughly translates as ‘Can you keep your nerve?’ or “What have you got?”.
This was the question, that SFC found themselves being asked this week. Not just once, but a multitude of times.
Going into the match, SFC had dropped points in their last two fixtures. In both cases, they’d come up against two efficient, hardworking and well-drilled teams, in Hibernians and Vikings.
With Olympique Gaulois flying high at the top of the table, SFC knew they were about to face yet another big test. Could they step up, in this top of the table clash? Could they deliver under pressure? Did they have the minerals?
As the match got underway, SFC quickly found their rhythm and had the better of the opening skirmishes. Rob Benson was full of his usual tireless running and was linking well with Mike Hemmingway, who was busy leading the Beauty Queens’ front line.
Eventually, the first big talking point of the game arrived, in the 17th minute. Liam Shotton burst through the French ranks, yet again, but this time he was bundled over, inside the penalty area. The referee had no alternative and, rightly pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Having won the spot-kick, the ‘Stoke Speedster’ then stepped up to convert it. However, rather than seeing the regular ripple of the net, he skewed his shot just wide of the post – much to the understandable delight of Gaulois’ players and home fans.
0-0. As you were.
The missed penalty appeared to invigorate the Gallic players, and a few minutes later they had a penalty of their own. This time the outcome was very different. A well-taken kick was placed just beyond the reach of Kelly Williams’ right hand.
1-0 to Olympique Gaulois. 25 minutes played.
The remainder of the first half became more fractious, although SFC was able to control the game in midfield, through their holy trinity of Garreau, Hulen, and Walter.
Then with the last minute of the first half running down, another big moment. SFC’s Matt Hulen, working hard, had tracked back on Gaulois’ Remi Tache. Unfortunately for the Seattle star, he mistimed his lunging tackle and suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a second yellow card.
1-0 at half time to the boys in blue, and SFC now down to ten men. Pressure (55,000 atmospheres or 808,500 pounds per square inch to be precise).
Fortunately for SFC, Owen Monaghan, part-time football enthusiast, and full-time geologist, was on hand with some thoughts, as the players received their half time oranges.
“Just like the most precious stones…” he explained, “…extreme situations can bring out something special that we never thought was possible.”
“Rubies and sapphires are made in exactly the same way,..” he went on, “…yet one is red and one is blue. The only difference,” he reminded his players “…is that chromium causes the rubies to be red, whilst titanium and iron lead the sapphires to be blue.”
“So lads, the question is clear, ‘Do you have the right minerals?’”
And with that, he sent on two diamonds in Plain and Teagle accompanied by some of Scotland’s finest granite, in Andrew Hutcheon.
The response was immediate and saw a huge “seismic” shift in momentum.
Hutcheon’s weekly, Alan Wells inspired, sprint training sessions saw him moving two yards quicker than he had run all season. The Stonehaven Saviour mercilessly harrying any French defender, who decided to dwell on the ball momentarily.
Ross Plain, equipped with his new aerodynamic, triple X-pompadour zero-fade cut, was giving his opposite number a torrid time, each and every time the ball came right.
Meanwhile, Ivor Teagle took it up another level down the left. Brushing off challenges and shrugging off lunges as Gaulois’ attempts to slow down the talented teenager, became more and more desperate.
Despite the man advantage, the home side could not find a foothold, and in the 56th minute, SFC equalized.
Another piercing run from Plain broke the French line, and his cross was deflected into the path of Teagle, via Shotton. The young Australian finishing with a calm assuredness that defied his years. 1-1.
The equalizer now saw the SFC attacks on Gaulois’s goal increase with vigor, as Teagle continued to find space. He flashed in two crosses in quick succession, but both were just beyond the outstretched feet of Shotton and Hutcheon. Another SFC sally forward, just moments later, saw the ball rattle the French woodwork.
In the 66th minute, SFC finally took the lead. Liam Shotton received the ball just outside the box and immediately hurdled two agricultural challenges, that the residents of 78 Rue de Varenne would have been proud of. With the referee doing well and allowing for the advantage, the English marksman needed no second invitation. A trademark Shotton finish was unleashed to make it 2-1 to SFC.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch the makeshift SFC backline of Pompey, Lloyd and Cullinane were still regularly tested, as Gaulois continued to try and assert their numerical advantage.
A series of OGS corners were all beaten away by SFC before Williams pulled off the save of the match. The Kentuckian pushing a point-blank header up and over the bar, to deny a French striker. A vital response, at a crucial moment in the game.
The third and final SFC goal came courtesy of Andrew Hutcheon. A man that aptly hails from a town that’s known as the Granite City. Latching on to a through ball from Plain, the Scotsman outmuscled the blue defender, who responded by looking to haul the striker down. As the Scotsman fell to the ground, his last touch took the ball past the wrong-footed keeper, who was left to watch as the ball rolled into an empty net. 3-1.
As the game played out SFC used their final substitutes well, to thwart any French revival. Captain Rezai and Dashnyam coming on to support the industrious Walter, in midfield, and close out the game.
Final Score: Olympique Gaulois 1 Singapore Football Club 3.
SFC‘s Man of the Match award went to Tim Walter (who spent the entire second half wondering why an adamantine ruby only gets 9 Mohs, on the official Mohs hardness scale, despite its hexagonal crystal system), with special mentions to Ivor Teagle and Kelly Williams for two other sparkling performances.