For those not familiar with the golden era of British comic books, in particular, Tiger and Scorcher, “Hot-Shot" Hamish Balfour was a gargantuan (6 foot 10 inches tall) footballer. Heralding from one of the Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland, he quickly became renowned as a footballer with a vicious “hot shot” strike. His much-fabled hot shot could send a football flying so hard, that it would rip the net and break the goalposts.(*http://bit.ly/2JURAYt)
Last Saturday a tenacious and hard-working FC Nippon team discovered that SFC has their very own “Hot-Shot” in Liam Shotton. Although, admittedly, he’s not Hebridean and he didn’t start life as a caber tosser.
Kicking off at a swelteringly hot 3pm, to accommodate for the days’ televised minor sports activities, FC Nippon had decided early on, that they would come out full of energy and press high. Meanwhile at the back, in addition to a high line, they employed a sweeper keeper.
Whilst SFC largely coped with these tactics, Matt Hulen (fulfilling the role of ‘Ian McWhacker’ for the day) soon found his plans were hit by an unexpected speed bump. The usually irrepressible Saatwik Kaul was taken off ill and needed to be replaced by the home club’s latest “wunderkind”, Nico Anstee.
Once play restarted however, SFC’s very own ‘Andy Steel’, aka Ross Plain, quickly went through the gears and began to create numerous chances. The game’s first goal fell to Liam Shotton after ten minutes.
Early MIP candidate, Tim Walter, had begun to wrestle control of midfield, and when an errant pass by FC Nippon was intercepted, he fed the ball forwards. Latching on to the pass, SFC’s No.14 Liam Shotton, promptly brushed aside two Japanese challenges, and unleashed the ball into the back of a heavily straining net, from all of 25 yards. Hot-Shot strike No.1 registered.
SFC 1 FC Nippon 0, was how it stayed at half time, despite a number of good saves by Nippon’s outstanding goalkeeper.
After some much-needed rehydration, SFC made some minor tactical tweaks, as the second half got underway.
Ross Plain and Rob Benson quickly found more space out wide and started to create even more chances, for Shotton and Hutcheon upfront. Meanwhile, in defence, Collins Mbeutcha added some additional muscle alongside the three amigos of Cullinane, Lloyd, and Rezai.
In the fifty-second minute, having wisely made the switch to molded boots the week before (akin to Billy Dane and the boots of ‘Dead Shot Keen’), Hutcheon sneaked in with a predatory strike to make it 2-0. The evergreen Aberdonian, in the process, took his tally to four goals, in his last two games. SFC 2 FC Nippon 0.
As the game grew on, so did SFC’s dominance. Shotton decided it was time to produce Hot-Shot strikes numbers 2 & 3. Both thunderbolts left Nippon’s keeper, and the goal frame, eager to avoid any contact with the ball.
In between his two ferocious strikes, Switzerland’s answer to ‘Johnny Dexter’, Tim Walter, also continued his fine scoring form. The Swiss’s goal ensured SFC has now registered five goals, in each of their last two games. Nippon’s solitary goal came from a miscommunication in defence, before the Nippon striker finished well from a pulled back cross.
Final score: SFC 5 FC Nippon 1.
Thank you to Nippon for an entertaining game of football, that would have been worthy of Mel Park.
Man of the Match (and the match ball), goes to gentle giant Liam Shotton, for three superlative strikes. With special mentions to Collins Mbeutcha, Nico Anstee, and Ross Plain.
Best wishes and a speedy recovery to Saatwik Kaul.