A fascinating year spent shadowing Toddy’s as a part time substitute (“Harper, I’m not a centre half – I can’t head the ball.” – “Dov, you’re in centre defence….”) ended in glorious failure, with internal wranglings between the “old” Toddy’s and the “new” Toddy’s. A season where the closest rivals were butchered and publicly humiliated, but then just missing out.
The ignominy of William Harper publicly resigning and then expecting a outpouring of tears, but seeing the team continue and then deciding to return as a player and the constant battle with the League Committee itself, with an embarrassing barracking and rebuke from the local association to the “hated” committee.
Toddy’s in 2001-2002 were the true pioneers in local football. The thriving website which was bolted on to the Sassco.co.uk site, as well as the superb kit and innovative designed badge, along with the video of the Toddy’s Documentary, not following the match, but the pre-match and post match.
- Click here to see the player details for the 2001-2002 season.
- Click here to view Billy Harper’s comments
- Click here to view Team Captain, Patrick Walsh’s comments.
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End of Season show.
The “old” guard put on an impressive performance.
Joe Middleton deceives the Silksworth defence.
Toddys.co.uk 6 Silksworth Catholic Club 1
Gary Jackson 2, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Stephen Wilson, Gordon Robson, John Hunt
Davinder Sangha (Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson), Ryan McNaught, Allan Elliott, Liam Dingwall, Darren Lewis, Gordon Robson (Joe Middleton), Steven Ridley, Dean Wardle, Neil Middlemiss (Gary Jackson), Stephen Wilson, John Hunt.
Man of the Match Gary Jackson
The season finale turned out to be a bit of a carnival. With Manager Tarnjit Sangha not being available to attend the game, it was the time for Gary Jackson to make his debut as Team Selector. Changes were made on a radical scale. There was no Simon Williamson, John Young, John Cairns, Scott Hembrough. The Jackson twins were left on the bench. In came Gordon Robson following a long lay off with injury. Dean Wardle made his long awaited comeback following his jaunt in America. The traditional sight of Darren Lewis making his seasonal debut as an outfield player. Davinder Sangha was given the role of Goalkeeper. Bets were being taken on the sideline to how long before Lewis would be giving the sign to be taken off.
A game that had no bearing on either teams positions in the league played just like both teams didn’t care. A truly drab first half where neither team could play two passes in cohesion. Silksworth had given the Toddy’s team a really hard match the previous week, when the scores had finished 4-4. On that night the football had been brilliant. Tonight it was terrible. Silksworth took the lead. It was their first attack of the game and it was the first piece of action that stand in keeper, Davinder Sangha had to perform. The goal seemed to jolt toddy’s into life. It wasn’t long before the home team equalised. Gordon Robson slotted home the equaliser. Halftime, nothing much to report. Things could only get better.
Changes were made for the second period. Lewis went back into goal. Nothing to do with Sangha’s performance, all to do with Lewis looking like he was going to collapse. With Sangha coming off, ‘Pud’ Jackson was sent on. Middlemiss was taken off to be replaced by Gary Jackson. Gordon Robson who had had a fine first half was also taken off to be replaced by Joe Middleton. Wilson left his berth in attack to go back on the right wing. The changes were tangible. Immediately what had been a drab performance by Toddy’s turned into what the team had become synonymous with this season. Great, attacking football. Catholic Club didn’t even get a look in. Gary Jackson who has reached new levels of performance since his favoured role of midfield has been handed to him scored twice. That makes it 4 goals in two games. Not bad for someone who had not scored all season. ‘Pud’ Jackson scored, Wilson added the fourth, while Hunt finally got onto the score sheet, albeit only helping a shot in that was already on its way over the line by ‘Pud’ Jackson.
The final score finished 6-1. I have to apologise if the report seems a little brief and void of content. The reason being, I was not able to be present at the game.
That’s it then. Toddys.co.uk finished the season off pretty much in the same manner they started it off in. scoring goals for fun.
Later on I will write a special piece on the season just gone. I would be grateful if any of the players or people who came to most of the games could give some input in Toddy’s season, and what they thought of the team and how they feel the team performed.
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Back on track after the recent draw.
Ridley, on the ball against Mountain Daisy
Toddys.co.uk 6 Mountain Daisy 1
Neil Middlemiss 2, Gary Jackson 2, Scott Hembrough, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson
Darren Lewis, John Young, Ryan McNaught, Allan Elliott (Chris Middlemiss), Joe Middleton, Steven Ridley, Gary Jackson, Neil Middlemiss, Stephen Wilson (Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson), John Cairns (John Hunt), Scott Hembrough.
Man of the Match Gary Jackson
Toddys.co.uk looked like a team that had something to prove. You could say they did. Mountain Daisy didn’t get a look in as Toddy’s tore into them from start to finish. In terms of league positions, Toddy’s were guaranteed of third place, yet they could not finish second. So the match as an event meant very little. However, Toddy’s were adamant they would finish the season off with a bang and at the very least be crowned top scorers in the league.
Neil Middlemiss opened the scoring with a quick fire brace. Middlemiss, who had come under a bit of stick in recent weeks looked like a man determined to prove the doubters wrong. A wonderful performance did more than enough to stem the critics. Both goals were taken with great aplomb, with the first being a classic solo run that took him past 3 defenders with ease.
Scott Hembrough. Whose Toddy’s season has been blighted by injury throughout this year, looked in the mood. He had given a terrific display mid-week v Catholic Club. His follow up was just as good. His pace and skill on the ball is a nightmare for opposing defenders. Coupled with that his vision to always be able to play the killer pass is sheer quality. His goal epitomised what the difference is between a good striker and a superb striker. The ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Mountain Daisy did manage to grab one goal back to reduce the deficit to 2 goals, but as the halftime whistle went, little did they know that it was to be the last time they caused Toddy’s any real trouble in the game.
The second half started with Manager Tarnjit Sangha immediately taking off Stephen Wilson. The reasons for doing so were clearly apparent to all those who were there. We will not go into them, but suffice to say that following two fabulous performances in his new role as right winger, Wilson could not have done any more to let himself and the rest of the team down. ‘Pud’ Jackson replaced him, but after a few failed moments on the right, he saw sense and took up his usual residence on the left wing with Middlemiss taking berth on the right.
Biggest cheer of the day came when M-o-M Gary Jackson who yet again was having a fantastic game in centre midfield, scored his first goal of the season. Amazingly he liked it so much, 20 minutes later he stepped up and did it again. His dual tally capped of a wonderful personal display. Second biggest cheer of the day was seeing John Hunt make his reappearance after a long layoff with injury. John Cairns who had yet again excelled in his attacking role despite not scoring was brought off for Mr Hunt. To be fair, Hunt still looked a little rusty when he went on and seemed to be still carrying a little bit of the injury. But the run out will have done him good. ‘Pud’ Jackson grabbing his customary goal capped off the day. Astonishing, considering he has played the vast majority of the season on the left wing, he has grabbed nearly 30 goals in all competitions.
The final whistle went with Toddys.co.uk running out 6-1 winners. With this being the penultimate game before Wednesday night’s ‘re-match’ with Catholic Club, it was time to start the celebrations. It is a Toddy’s tradition to go into the last match of the season with players playing in roles they normally wouldn’t entertain in a computer game. The most famous being Lewis’ foray out of goal. But with Catholic Club giving Toddy’s such a tight game midweek, it remains to be seen whether the home side will go for all the changes.
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Strength in depth shows it class.
Comfortable win despite losing key players.
An uneventful afternoon for stand-in keeper, Danny Coulson
Toddys.co.uk 5 Ivy House 1
John Cairns 3, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Neil Middlemiss
Daniel Coulson, John Young, Ryan McNaught, Allan Elliott, Chris Middlemiss, Simon Williamson, Gary Jackson (Joe Middleton), Stephen Wilson, Neil Middlemiss, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson (Steven Ridley), John Cairns.
Man of the Match Stephen Wilson
With at least 7 first team regulars out through injury or work commitments, Toddys.co.uk showed all the strength in depth the squad has had and needed coming into this encounter.
Danny Coulson was brought in to replace regular keeper Lewis in goal, while two of Tarnjit Sangha’s most recent acquisitions, Chris Middlemiss, and Allan Elliott were given full debuts. Gary Jackson was handed his most favoured role in midfield, alongside Simon Williamson. Stephen Wilson was ‘controversially’ taken out of his accustomed role of centre forward and given a new job on the right wing. John Cairns partnered Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson in attack.
It was always going to be a ‘risk’ putting out such a young side for manager Tarnjit Sangha, but following 90 minutes of exhilarating football; all concerns were put to shame. Toddys.co.uk had put on one of their most accomplished performances of the season. The final score of 5-1 should have been much more, but no complaints.
Incredibly, it was Ivy House that took the lead. The wind, which was blowing right across the pitch, was always going to be a deciding factor. Whichever team was playing into it would have a disadvantage. Toddy’s won the toss. Acting Captain John Young opted to play with the wind in their face for the first half. After just 3 minutes of play, Shock! Horror! Ivy House took a corner that Danny Coulson completely failed to deal with. The result was the Ivy centre forward just heading in from 2 yards. A look of disbelief amongst the faces of the Toddy’s players. Never mind, John Young just turned around to his troops and roared “Get on with it. There’s plenty of time. We’ll win this”. How right he was. It proved to be the only shot of noteworthy that Ivy House would get to fire in at Toddy’s all morning. To be fair, Ivy were well short of full strength. At this time of season it gets very difficult to motivate players to turn up for matches when there is very little to play for. The fact that an opposition team is playing Toddy’s cannot be a very enticing prospect for any visiting manager. It was left to Ivy House manager Ken Smithson to lead by example and don a pair of boots and blast out the war cry! Unfortunately for Ken, it eventually petered out into a whimper. Toddy’s came roaring back at Ivy with a three-goal burst that left the visitors a little shell-shocked. John Cairns got the first. Wilson, who was having the time of his life on the right wing sent over a pin point cross that landed right on Cairns’ head. A beautifully taken cushion header netted right into the back of the net. It wasn’t long before Cairns added a second. A powerful drive, a John Cairns trademark, left the Ivy keeper with little chance. Cairns’ work for the day was completed when yet another piece of wing wizardry by Stephen Wilson, wizardry that would eventually lead to him earning a M-o-M award, enabled him to finish of the game as a contest. A John Cairns hat trick. Half time, 3-1 to Toddy’s. 3 points were all but assured.
The second half was looking a formality. The question was, how many would Toddy’s score? Ivy House were looking tired. It was only really their centre forward, Seb Wilde who looked as though he may give the Toddy’s rearguard some cause for concern. But it was asking an awful lot of one lad to ‘get his team back into the game’. Ivy’s ‘player’ manager, Ken Smithson was now beginning to show ample proof why he had decided to run a team, rather than play for it. He was literally on his last legs. ‘Just kidding Ken.’
Both the Jackson twins were taken off to save their legs and replaced by Joe Middleton and Steven Ridley, who himself had been rested prior to the match. Further strikes from Neil Middlemiss and the recently brought on ‘Pud’ Jackson took the game well beyond plucky Ivy. The referee blew the final whistle. Toddy’s had won the game with plenty to spare and as an added bonus were now guaranteed of third spot in the league.
A special mention has to be made about two players, who in particular stood out during the game. Gary Jackson who for the vast majority of this season had been playing at left back, a position he had never really played before coming to Toddy’s, but since being put there, had made his own. Jackson was a complete revelation in his favoured role of midfield. Alongside Simon Williamson, Jackson revelled. Such maturity in a player is amazing considering his tender age of just 17. It does seem that Gary Jackson may well have played his last game at left back. Come next season, I’m pretty sure he will be vying very strongly for a midfield berth.
When the name of Stephen Wilson was announced as right-winger, many eyebrows were raised in the changing rooms. Yet manager, Tarnjit Sangha felt his electrifying pace was not being fully utilised in his role as centre forward. With a position on the right wing and so much space for Wilson to run into, surly he couldn’t fail. Fail he did not. The Ivy House left back must have needed an oxygen tent as soon as the final whistle had gone, such was the roasting that Wilson gave him. It was absolutely clear that Wilson was having a whale of a time stuck on the right wing. He played like a player who was completely void of any of the pressures that come with being a centre forward. This must be the way forward for Stephen Wilson. We shall see.
Excellent performance by Toddys.co.uk
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Incessant pressure fails to deliver.
A Title dreams are all but extinguished.
Easy game made difficult.
Toddys.co.uk 1 Roseberry Leisure 1
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Simon Williamson, Steven Ridley, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Joe Middleton, Stephen Wilson (Neil Middlemiss), John Cairns (Scott Hembrough).
Man of the Match Joe Middleton
Both sides went into this top of the table encounter knowing that nothing but a win for either would do. Toddy’s needed to win to keep the pressure up on both their opponents Roseberry and the team just above them in the league, RWC. Roseberry themselves knew a draw or a defeat would hand the initiative over to RWC in what had now become a ‘three horse race’ for the Championship.
As it turned out, RWC were the major winners on the night, as both Toddy’s and Roseberry fought out a 1-1 stalemate.
A huge crowd had turned out, mostly in anticipation for Toddy’s victory. The home team had been in awesome form of late, while their opponents, Roseberry looked as though they were getting the jitters judging by their recent run of results in the final stages of the Title race.
The Toddy’s team lined up as follows. Darren Lewis played in between the sticks. The back four consisted of John Young and Gavin Wilson as centre halves, and the outstanding duo of Gary Jackson and Ryan McNaught as fullbacks. With Lee Tait still out through injury, Simon Williamson held centre stage alongside captain Steven Ridley. Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson on the left, with Joe Middleton down the right, covered the flanks. Stephen Wilson started in attack. With John Hunt still out injured and Scott Hembrough not fully fit, John Cairns was brought in to make his debut in attack. Cairns had not played for Toddy’s since the end of last season, but his presence was deemed necessary due to the lengthening injury list at the club.
Toddys.co.uk started the game like a team possessed. Roseberry knew they were in for a torrid night. It was wave after wave of attacks. Both Jackson and Middleton had the absolute better of their fullbacks, whilst Williamson and Ridley were dictating all in the middle of the park. Wilson and Cairns were running the Roseberry defence ragged. The first major incident occurred after just five minutes. A shot fired in by Wilson beat the Roseberry keeper, but was handled on the line by one of his defenders. It looked as though it was going to be red card offence. Yet the referee decided that the ball was not going in. Toddy’s had been awarded a golden opportunity to take the lead via a penalty. Stephen Wilson stepped up. It was a bit of a surprise to see him claim the kick, due to the fact that he had missed a couple of spot kicks on earlier occasions. However, there wasn’t much argument by the rest of the team as Wilson steeped up. A short run up was met by a kick that flew straight at the keeper. As the keeper dived to his left, his trailing leg managed to deflect the ball over the bar. An opportunity spurned. Yet again this was to turn out to be the story of Toddy’s night.
If you are going to miss a penalty, rather it is in the first five minutes than the last. Manager, Tarnjit Sangha was not too concerned. Toddy’s had Roseberry on the racks. Surly it was only a matter of time before one of the numerous opportunities being created would be converted. Roseberry’s two key men, Gary Golightly and Gary Graham, were passengers for the first 35 minutes of the game. The entire match was being played out in the Roseberry half. Cairns missed a glorious chance to put Toddy’s in the lead, his shot just dribbling the wrong side of the upright. ‘Pud’ Jackson, who was making mince meat of his marker, opened himself up for shot on goal, only to see it fly over the bar. Such incessant pressure demanded a goal. Roseberry were looking as though they wouldn’t even last out the first 45 minutes. It really was all hands to the pump. Incredibly, the first half whistle went, a half that had been completely dominated by the home side had failed to yield a goal. 0-0.
Tarnjit Sangha could really say nothing at the interval, but that Toddy’s should really have had this game sewn up. What was now important was that the defence must keep up their concentration and not allow the Roseberry forwards to try and get their team back in the game. One of the most important jobs of the evening was that of John Young’s. He had to make sure that he matched the Roseberry Leisure centre forward, Gary Graham’s strength in the air. Roseberry’s sole tactic was to launch the long ball in to the heart of the opposition defence, than hope that Graham can flick the ball on to his strike partner Gary Golightly. For the entirety of the first half, Toddy’s had dealt with this threat extremely well.
The second half kicked off pretty much as same as the first. Toddy’s continued their pressing, while Roseberry continued to defend. With 10 minutes gone and still no score on the board, a change had to be made. Scott Hembrough who if fully fit would have started was brought on to replace John Cairns, who himself had had an impressive seasonal debut. Hembrough had been hugely impressive in his limited performances for Toddy’s, limited due to a niggling knee injury that had persisted. However, Manager Sangha was sure he would get a solid 35 minutes out of him. Toddy’s continued their charge. Williamson and Ridley had a firm grip in midfield, a grip that they would keep throughout the encounter. The wingers, especially ‘Pud’ Jackson were beginning to tire out the Roseberry fullbacks. Middleton, whose delivery into the box in the first half was below par, now seemed to be finding his centre forwards with his crosses. Toddy’s had to score. The pressure demanded it. The goal came, at last. Hembrough was really giving the Roseberry defenders something to think about. His movement was causing mayhem in the heart of their defence. A cross that was looped in from the right by Middleton deceived both the centre halves and the Roseberry sweeper. Hembrough saw his chance and defying his size leapt and powerfully hammered in the ball with his head. A huge roar went up from the Toddy’s fans. Toddy’s had been hammering on the Roseberry door all night, and now they had finally broken it down.
The goal had stunned Roseberry, who had defended heroically all night. A defeat was disastrous for them. It was no good to just now sit back and hope they could hit Toddy’s on the break. They themselves would now have to force he issue. They did push forward. But instead of causing Toddy’s problems this just created more trouble for the league leaders. Toddy’s now had Roseberry where they wanted them. The goal had really opened the game up. Toddy’s now smelled blood. Two breaks by ‘Pud’ Jackson down the left wing resulted in two quick passes that should have been converted by Wilson on both occasions. It was the last straw for Manager Sangha. Neil Middlemiss was sent on to replace Wilson. Middlemiss joined Hembrough in attack. The fact that Toddy’s were now pushing forward looking for the all important second ‘killer’ goal, meant that finally Golightly and Graham may find the space that had been so ruthlessly denied to them by the Toddy’s rearguard. A flicked header by Graham left Golightly clear on goal. He was certain to score, he missed. Young who had dealt with Graham’s aerial threat so well was now seemingly struggling. A Roseberry corner left Graham with a clear header on goal, which he could only fire into Darren Lewis’ hands. Two good opportunities by Roseberry had been spurned. It was a stark warning to Toddy’s that no matter how much they had dominated the game, a 1-0 score line was a very precarious one. It proved to be just that. Ryan McNaught who had been magnificent all night did not deal with a long ball. Golightly latched on to it and fired in a dangerous cross into the heart of the Toddy’s defence. A scramble ensued and John Young deflected the ball in off a shot by one of the Roseberry players. There was only 5 minutes left on the clock. Toddy’s were devastated. They had dominated the game for nearly 80 minutes, yet it looked as though they would have to share the spoils. A last ditch attempt was made to grab a possible late winner, but it was to be to no avail. The referee blew the final whistle.
Neither team really wanted the draw. It meant that Toddy’s would require big favours from some of the ‘weaker’ teams in the league to get results against both Roseberry and RWC. It was unlikely to happen when looking at both sides remaining games. The result left RWC just three points behind Roseberry Leisure, but RWC still had one game in hand plus a far superior goal difference. The only consolation for Roseberry was the fact that RWC still had to play outgoing Champions, The Club, a team they have never beaten in the league for over the past two seasons.
For Toddy’s it meant that third spot at the very least was guaranteed. The performance tonight had been magnificent. For a little more composure and sharpness in front of goal, Toddy’s would have romped to an impressive victory. For vast periods in the game, Roseberry had been a decidedly second best. Yet a simple mistake by the Toddy’s defence, their only real one of the night, had been punished. It would be nice just once in while for Toddy’s to get a little rub of the green. A little bit of luck that is required in order to win championships. Roseberry have had enough this season, mostly from their encounters with Toddy’s. RWC got theirs tonight.
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Back in the Title hunt
A narrow but comfortable 2-1 win.
Easy game made difficult.
Toddys.co.uk 2 Hollymere 1
Stephen Wilson, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson
Darren Lewis, Simon Williamson, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Allan Elliott, Lee Tait (Davinder Sangha), Steven Ridley, Neil Middlemiss, Gordon Robson (Chris Middlemiss), Stephen Wilson, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson.
Man of the Match Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson
The score line certainly did not reflect the sheer dominance Toddy’s had throughout this tense encounter. News was filtering through that leaders Roseberry Leisure were being held to a 3-3 draw with Reel Redhouse in what turned out to be a hugely significant day in the championship run in.
Manager Tarnjit Sangha had gone right out on limb by leaving out the likes of John Young, Gavin Wilson, Joe Middleton and Scott Hembrough in order to keep them fresh for Wednesday’s visit of Roseberry Leisure. It wasn’t a sign of arrogance, just a belief in a squad system that had yet to let him down this season. Even though eyebrows were raised, people forget that this notion of ‘resting’ players is a ploy that Toddy’s have used on many occasions before this campaign.
But injuries to Gordon Robson and Lee Tait during this clash were something that Toddy’s could well have done without. Robson had to come off with a suspected twisted knee, while Tait had a recurring thigh strain. Both looked extremely doubtful for Wednesday.
Hollymere came into this game on the back of a couple of really encouraging results. They were just a minute away from defeating reigning Champions The Club last week when a last minute strike by Anthony Nelson saved the blushes for the seemingly out going Champions. On Wednesday night, RWC had an almighty scare when they found themselves 2-1 down against Hollymere. Only a mistake in the last 10 minutes by a Hollymere defender allowed RWC to claw their way back into a 3-2 winning situation. Hollymere could well have been forgiven for thinking they might just get something out of their encounter with Toddys.co.uk.
The game itself turned out to be an amazing affair of missed chances, all for Toddy’s. The three major culprits turned out to be Neil Middlemiss, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson and Stephen Wilson. The contest should have been over after 15 minutes. Wilson and Jackson had both created clear one-on-one chances with the Hollymere goalkeeper only to completely miss the target. THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THIS TYPE OF INEPTITUDE IN FRONT OF GOAL!!
It wasn’t enough the ‘big two’ were squandering chance after chance, Middlemiss decided to join in the ‘fun’. There can be nothing more frustrating for a manager than to see strikers doing all the hard work, getting themselves into wonderful goal scoring positions, and than not even forcing the opposing keeper into even a save. Tarnjit Sangha had to endure 90 minutes of it.
Things started so well. Wilson latched onto a cross hit high into the Hollymere penalty box by Gordon Robson, by smashing it past the Hollymere keeper. 1-0 to the home side. ‘Pud’ Jackson was tormenting the opposition defence all morning in his changed role of centre forward. This was due in main to the fact that Hembrough was left out and John Hunt was still injured. The main cause for concern for Sangha was the fact that the back four was probably the youngest that anyone has ever put out in this league. McNaught, Jackson, and Elliott all were aged under 18. Reassurance came in the form of Simon Williamson who was asked to play centre half and keep the young heads in check.
As well as the defence was playing, the second crucial goal just would not come. With 15 minutes left in the first half Gordon Robson had to come off because of a suspected twisted knee. Chris Middlemiss was sent on to fill the vacant right midfield role. The half time whistle went with out Toddy’s further adding to their 1-0 advantage.
Nothing was wrong with the team’s performance; everything was fine right up until the final third of the pitch. All that was missing was the finishing touch. This was heavily stated at the interval. The strikers could not go on missing chances. A positional change was made at the beginning of the second half. Chris Middlemiss and Gary Jackson swapped positions, this was due to the fact that Middlemiss was far more used to playing left back rather than right midfield. Jackson had shown his sheer versatility at being a complete all-rounder on many occasions before. Elsewhere no changes.
The game continued much as before, Hollymere were completely pinned back in their half as Toddy’s piled on the pressure. However, a recurrence of his thigh strain forced Lee Tait to have to come off. Davinder Sangha, who slotted into right back, replaced him. This meant that Allan Elliott was now asked to join Ridley in midfield. With so many Toddy’s players out through injuries or other reasons, it was now imperative no one else got injured, there were no more players left on the substitutes bench.
‘Pud’ Jackson eased the tension by grabbing a well-deserved, superbly created and executed second goal. He turned his marker inside out than fired a beautifully crafted left foot shot that bent into the top left hand corner of the Hollymere goal. 2-0, had to be game over. Toddys.co.uk would now surly go on and add more goals to their tally and finish off Hollymere. It was not to be. Again chance after chance went begging. Again the ‘3 Amigos’ being the chief culprits. But than came the real sucker punch. Hollymere had shown nothing as an attacking force all game. They got a free kick just outside the Toddy’s penalty box. The player took the kick, but the referee blew his whistle. Lewis who had bent over to scoop the ball up stopped as he along with most of the Toddy’s players thought the whistle was to have the kick retaken, the ball hit the back of the net. The referee gave the goal. MYSTIFICATON. 2-1. Now all those missed opportunities were beginning to look a little expensive. With both regular centre halves missing, there was always a chance Hollymere might get something out of this clash. Toddy’s now needed that all-important third goal, just to settle the nerves. It still wouldn’t come. Yet chances were being created at will. The Toddy’s rearguard was holding firm, but any slip up might let Hollymere back. This is what was scaring the hell out of the Toddy’s sideline. But everything was to no avail. The final whistle went, with Tarnjit Sangha breathing a huge sigh of relief. Toddys.co.uk had won the game. Hindsight would have shown that there was nothing really to worry about. Hollymere never really created any worthy goal scoring opportunity. The make shift defence had dealt with whatever Hollymere had to throw at them.
9 points from three games in a week. Manager Tarnjit Sangha had demanded it. The players delivered. Now the big one. Wednesday night sees the arrival of league leaders Roseberry Leisure. With the Roseberry only managing a 3-3 draw with Reel Redhouse, and both RWC and Toddys.co.uk winning, this game becomes a huge game. If Toddy’s can beat the leaders, than hope on Saturday, The Club take something off RWC, Toddy’s will be in with a fabulous chance of being crowned Champions at the end of the season. Even if they are not, the opportunity to finish second thus grabbing a Runners up Trophy is a real possibility.
On Wednesday night, a defeat for either team may well and truly leave the Title a two horse race. Toddys.co.uk must make sure, come 8.30pm Wednesday night, they are one of the two horses left in the race.
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Lean, Mean, Scoring Machine.
Midfield battle on a difficult pitch
Reel Redhouse 1 Toddy’s 6
Stephen Wilson 2, John Hunt 2, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Neil Middlemiss
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Allan Elliott, Gary Jackson, Lee Tait, Steven Ridley, Neil Middlemiss, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Stephen Wilson, John Hunt (Gordon Robson).
Man of the Match Allan Elliott
A feeling of retribution was in the air as Toddys.co.uk took the field against local rivals Reel Redhouse. One of the low points of what has been in general a great season for Toddy’s was the 3-2 Arjan Sangha Cup semi final defeat at the hands of today’s opponents just a few weeks ago.
The team went out with a real determination about them. There was no way Toddys.co.uk were going to get anything less than 3 points from this encounter.
The team started the game like an unstoppable juggernaut. Reel Redhouse didn’t know what hit them. Toddy’s had come into this match on the back of a terrific run of results that had seen the team win it’s last four games in a row. It would take a monumental effort from Reel Redhouse to prevent Toddy’s making it five. Redhouse looked intent on playing the long ball system to try and upset the ‘Toddy’s style’. However, the form of the defence, especially centre half John Young, has been so good, that it would take more than just lofting in the high ball to defy the away sides rearguard. But throughout the game it was the Reel Redhouse defence that was kept under siege all night. A wonderful passing move, which originated from the back resulted in ‘Pud’ Jackson floating in a perfectly judged cross which John Hunt cleverly wrapped his foot around to slot in Toddy’s opener. It was the least Toddy’s deserved; they had dominated the early exchanges. Within 10 minutes, Hunt had grabbed his second of the night, again, the culmination of a wonderful team move enabling Hunt to nod a simple header in to the back of the net. Reel had no answer for the Toddy’s relentless drive. Tait was masterful in midfield alongside captain Steven Ridley. Many thought the absence of Simon Williamson would be to the detriment of the team, but Lee Tait soon dispelled that notion. The centre half partnership of John Young and Gavin Wilson was yet again insurmountable. Allan Elliott, who was making his Toddy’s debut at right back in place of Ryan McNaught, had an awesome first 45 minutes. There was nothing but praise for the way he just slotted into the role and you could have believed that he was playing his umpteenth game such was his composure in the throughout the evening. His performance, which excelled yet even more in the second half would go on and earn him a fully justified M-o-M award by the opposing team. The half time whistle went. The score was 2-0. Toddys.co.uk were in full control.
The last time the two sides met was in the Arjan Sangha Cup. The half time score then, was 2-0 to Toddy’s. Then, just like now, Toddy’s were in full control of the game. However, Toddy’s went on to throw the game away in dramatic style, 3-2. Surly, lightning would not strike twice.
Manager, Sangha, made this absolutely clear. ‘Toddy’s will not lose from this’. Immediately, Toddy’s went at Reel Redhouse. There was a hell bent determined belief to get the all-important third goal thus killing the game as a contest. Numerous opportunities were wasted. The third goal just would not come. When a further goal did come, it was for Reel Redhouse. A counter attack led to the Toddy’s rearguard being caught cold. Michael Wilkinson managed to get the better of Gavin Wilson and fired a low hard driven cross into the heart of the Toddy’s defence, which was not dealt with. It was left to the Reel’ fullback Stuart Simpson who had made a run on the blindside of Allan Elliott to slot home an easy shot. Reel Redhouse had pulled one back, just like they had in the semi final. For the first time in the game, Reel felt as if they might get something out of a match in which so far they had been completely outplayed. John Hunt had to come off with a bruised ankle and was replaced by Gordon Robson up front.
Something was wrong. For the first time in the game, Toddy’s were looking decidedly nervy. A dreaded feeling of déjà vu was filtering through the team, a feeling of ‘We’ve been here before with this lot’. The game was panning out exactly like the semi final clash. When Reel started to get back at Toddy’s. A belief was starting to emanate from the Reel ranks, even though to be fair, Lewis hadn’t really had a save to make. Urgent action was needed. The decision was taken to take Gordon Robson out of attack and put him on the right wing. Middlemiss who had been anonymous during the second half was told to take up position on the left-wing enabling ‘Pud’ Jackson to join Wilson in attack. It was a masterstroke. Within 3 minutes of the change, a move involving Robson, Jackson and Wilson, resulted with Middlemiss jumping up and glancing in the deftest of headers to give Toddy’s their 2-goal deficit back. But that wasn’t the end. Just two minutes later, Middlemiss turned goal provider. This time it was his turn to send in a delicately drifted cross, which saw ‘Pud’ Jackson nod the ball in via a diving header. From looking a little shaky, Toddy’s had completely taken charge of the game. There was no coming back from this for Reel Redhouse. Toddys.co.uk had this game right where they wanted it. The team now started to turn on the style. At times Reel didn’t know what was going on. Toddy’s took it in turns to antagonise the Reel defence. Of all the players on the pitch, nobody deserved more to score a goal than Wilson. He got what he deserved. The first a left foot drive which shot past Bennett in the Reel goal. But the last was probably the best of the night. He brought the ball down with his left foot, and in one sweeping move, he had split the Redhouse defence wide open. Than an amazing right foot drive flew into the top left hand corner of the Reel goal, leaving a despairing Bennett completely helpless. Toddy’s had left Reel Redhouse for dead.
The final whistle went. Toddys.co.uk had grabbed all 3 points with an emphatic 6-1 drubbing of Reel Redhouse. It has been a fantastic display of attacking football where each and every individual in Red & White had played a decisive part.
There is no doubt, Toddys.co.uk are now the form side in the league. This was their fifth consecutive victory in a row. Saturday sees them take on Hollymere. A match that may prove to be more difficult than what the formbook would suggest. Hollymere have managed a 2-2 draw with The Club, and were only just beaten by RWC 3-2 tonight. A win for Toddy’s will see them grant Manager Tarnjit Sangha’s wish of securing 9 points from their three encounters this week. We await Saturday and see if that wish will be granted.
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Toddy’s grind out a result.
Bad pitch but three points are welcome.
Midfield battle on a difficult pitch
New Derby 1 Toddy’s 3
Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Steven Ridley, John Young
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Lee Tait (John Hunt), Steven Ridley, Gordon Robson (Neil Middlemiss), Stephen Wilson, Simon Williamson
Man of the Match Steven Ridley
Manager Tarnjit Sangha had demanded his team take all 9 points from their forthcoming three encounters this week. On a very difficult pitch and against awkward opponents, Toddys.co.uk completed the first stage. A 3-1 victory over New Derby was nothing short of what the team deserved following a match where the away side dominated for long periods in the game.
With Lee Tait returning from injury, he was sent straight in to the fray to join midfield dynamo Steven Ridley in the centre of the park. John Hunt was the unlucky player to be relegated to the bench. The front pairing of Simon Williamson along with Stephen Wilson was preferred.
It was a game like I said before Toddy’s dominated for great periods. Considering the extreme bumpiness of the surface, the away side played some terrific football. At times New Derby were left chasing shadows. It wasn’t long before Toddy’s had their first chance on goal, a mazy solo run by Stephen Wilson needed with a rasping left drive which just drifted wrong side of the crossbar. At times in the first half, the Toddy’s rearguard was as far up the pitch as the half way line such was the pressure on the opposition. What Toddy’s really needed was a goal to show something for all their pressure. It duly came via the amazing throwing of Simon Williamson. Williamson took a throw from just 5 yards inside of the half way line. It flew right into the centre of the New Derby penalty area where John Young arose head and shoulders above anybody else to fire in an unstoppable header. The keeper did get his hands to the ball, but could only parry it into the back of his net. Toddy’s were 1-0 up, and it was nothing short of what they deserved. What was needed now was extreme concentration from the defence who were mostly passive observers during the first half. It was imperative they did not lose any concentration or New Derby did have enough pace up front to cause problems. Half time New Derby 0, Toddys.co.uk 1.
The second half kicked off, and with Toddy’s now firing downhill, more goals were expected from the team. What a start they got. Yet another long throw from Simon Williamson was launched into the New Derby penalty box. Again John Young rose above any other to head the ball, but this time it came flying back off the crossbar. However, lightning reactions by Lee Tait saw him fly into an overhead kick, which left the keeper with no chance whatsoever. Within 5 minutes of the restart, Toddy’s were now leading 2-0. There was surly no way back for New Derby from this. Toddy’s now really had the bit between their teeth. Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson who had been a little subdued during the first half now shone into life. His pace was clearly giving the New Derby full back palpitations, so much that they had to double up on him. Wilson than missed a glorious opportunity to finish the game off with a one on one with the keeper, yet somehow he managed to hit the ball directly into his mid-rift. This was not the first time a one on one opportunity was thrown away; Wilson had not shown enough composure in front of goal. The boy seems to have a tendency to lack the coolness in front of goal that is required when one gets into these types of positions. Tait who had had a magnificent return to the action was than taken off as it was felt he was not fully match fit, there are other battles ahead that need to be fought by Mr Tait. John Hunt came on and joined Wilson in attack, Williamson was asked to fill the spot in midfield vacated by Lee Tait. Toddy’s continued on the offensive, but the all-important third goal just wouldn’t come. New Derby sensed a chance to get back into a game in which for long periods they were distinctly second best. Suddenly New Derby started to get back at Toddy’s. They did not create much in shape of chances, but they did manage to wrestle some midfield superiority back from the away side. But with John Young magnificent yet again alongside his superb lieutenant Gavin Wilson nothing was going to get through the centre. As full back pairings go, Ryan McNaught and especially Gary Jackson have to be considered the finest in the league. When all four of the back line are on form, as they have been over the last 4-5 games, Toddy’s really do look unstoppable. New Derby found that out to their cost. However, they did score to pull the deficit back to 2-1. Steven Ridley rather needlessly gave a free kick away on the edge of the Toddy’s penalty area. The ensuing free kick was not dealt with at all, and all the New Derby forward had to do was step up and slot a simple tap in past Lewis who could do nothing to prevent it. With the score at 2-1, New Derby saw a ray of hope. To be fair to them they did create a couple more chances that they should have put away, but like Toddy’s, New Derby seemed to have a problem finishing the ‘simple chances’. With the score the way it was, Toddy’s were not out of the woods. It would have been unfair if New Derby had equalised. Neil Middlemiss who went on and looked extremely sprightly replaced Gordon Robson. The third goal came, and it went to Toddy’s. Simon Williamson won a towering header from midfield that immediately dropped at ‘Pud’ Jackson’s feet. One bounce of the ball and that ‘magical’ left foot smashed an unstoppable shot that flew into the back of the New Derby net. 3-1. Game over. Toddy’s should have gone on and added more to the score sheet. Wilson was constantly tormenting the New Derby defence. But all his endeavours were to no avail. It was not to be his day. The final whistle went. Toddys.co.uk had won the game 3-1. It was the least they deserved.
Considering the fact that the pitch was not the best playing surface you could find, and the fact that the opposition, New Derby, were a good, strong side, Toddys.co.uk have to be congratulated for an excellent performance. In reality, Toddy’s should have had the contest sewn up by half time, and if not for their errors in front of goal, they could have been made to pay. The amount of one on one opportunities that are being spurned is becoming a bit of a worry, and it has to be resolved. But I think if anyone concerned with the team was asked if they would have took a 3-1 score line before the game, the answer would have been a unanimous YES!! No complaints. Next up, Reel Redhouse.
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Another emphatic result.
Middlemiss scores his impressive goal
Toddy’s 7 Low Fell 1
Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson 2, John Hunt, Stephen Wilson, Gordon Robson, Neil Middlemiss, Steven Ridley
Daniel Coulson, John Young, Gavin Wilson (Chris Middlemiss), Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Joe Middleton, Simon Williamson, Steven Ridley, Neil Middlemiss, Stephen Wilson (Gordon Robson), John Hunt (Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson).
Man of the Match Simon Williamson
29 goals scored in five games including today’s result. It seems that Toddys.co.uk are now fully back on track. Following last weeks fantastic 5-1 drubbing of RWC, it was feared by manager Tarnjit Sangha that the team may ‘under-perform against Low Fell. Even though the performance did not match that of against RWC. No one could complain with the 7-1 victory over today’s opponents who themselves were coming off the back of a terrific 0-0 draw with leaders Roseberry Leisure just three day earlier.
The major change to the Toddy’s line up for the clash against Low Fell was that of the inclusion in the starting eleven of Goal keeper Daniel Coulson who even though has been a Toddy’s player all season, was just making his debut. With first choice keeper Darren Lewis on work commitments, and reserve keeper Gary Davison out injured, it was Coulson’s chance to grab some glory. The only other real surprise was the exclusion of Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson. Neil Middlemiss’ wonderful display when he came on last week against RWC had earned him the chance to continue where he had left off.
Toddy’s were slow to get off the mark. It seemed as though the team were expecting to just simply turn up and roll over Low Fell with ease. But like I mentioned earlier, Low Fell had just come off the back of a morale boosting 0-0 with Roseberry Leisure, which was largely due to a terrific defensive performance. It looked as though they would carry that defensive display into this game as well. The major problem for Toddy’s was the failure of midfield duo Williamson and Ridley to get a grip of the vital centre areas of the park. It wasn’t the fact that Low Fell were better in this department, far from it, it was just two from Toddy’s were not quite on their game. The anxiety was relieved to an extent when Ridley did manage to put the home side ahead with a very well taken goal that left the keeper with no chance whatsoever of getting to it. This should have been the spur for the home side to now settle and start getting their game in order. However it wasn’t to be. A cleverly chipped lob by Roberts of Low Fell left the Toddy’s defence flat footed and keeper Daniel Coulson with no chance at all. Low Fell had got their equaliser and seemed to have the bit between their teeth.
Both Williamson and Ridley must have had a good hard look at each other. Nearly 25 minutes had passed and neither had got their game going at all. Williamson seemed more interested in arguing each and every referee’s decision, while Ridley just wanted that one touch too many, subsequently losing the ball. In attack, both John Hunt and too a lesser extent Stephen Wilson were finding the hard pitch surface a problem. I hope it was the pitch, if not, than some of the touches by both on the ball were to say a little ‘out of sync’. Coulson was called upon to make a brilliant one-handed save by tipping the ball over the bar. It was left to Joe Middleton, whose form has been incredible over the last five games to get the Toddy’s show back on the road. A wonderfully drifted free kick was floated into the Low Fell penalty area. The ball was flying right into the back of the net, but John Hunt got a vital touch to it before it crossed the goal line, the touch was vital because the free-kick was indirect. There was a huge uproar from the away side that claimed the ball had already crossed the line before Hunt had managed to get a touch. The referee would hear none of it. From the goal onwards, Toddy’s began to dictate the game. Numerous opportunities were missed by the home team, which would have seen the game well beyond Low Fell. The chances were spurned, chief culprits, Hunt and Wilson. To be fair, both players had done well to get into the positions in the first place. The half time whistle went. Toddys.co.uk were leading 2-1 and looking a lot more comfortable than they had done in the first quarter of the game, but would they lament all the missed chances towards the end of the interval. We would soon find out.
The second half kicked off. Toddy’s looked a completely different side. There was no way that they were going to let the lead slip. However, it still seemed that the front two were not firing on all cylinders. John Hunt did not seem fully on his game, which was rather surprising. He had been magnificent since coming back from his 5-week ban. A change had to be made. Toddy’s needed a third goal, as it would certainly kill off Low Fell. Hunt was taken off to be replaced by ‘Pud’ Jackson who took up residence in attack rather than his accustomed role on the left wing. The substitution was inspired. Jackson’s first touch of the game was to slot home the ball following some great work by Middleton on the right wing. Game Over! There was no way back now for Low Fell. Within just five minutes of scoring their third, Toddy’s added yet another. This time it was the turn of Middlemiss who calmly placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the Low Fell net. A textbook finish. The team were now enjoying their football. The full backs McNaught and Jackson were beginning to push forward to assist the midfield. John Young at the heart of the Toddy’s defence has been in superb form recently and looked as though he was going to notch up yet another accomplished individual performance. Gavin Wilson looked as though it would take a mortar attack to knock him off the ball. Williamson and Ridley were now completely running the midfield. The two seemed to complement each other so well. The tough tackling, robust all action style of Ridley, contrasting with that of the more cultured and deft display by Williamson who seems to meticulously pick out his passes. ‘Pud’ Jackson than went on to grab Toddy’s fifth and his second of the game. Amazingly with his right foot, although it was just a tap in. wave after wave of attacks rained in on the Low Fell defence. Biggest cheer of the day had to be for Wilson as he grabbed his first and subsequent only goal of the game. He had huffed and puffed all day for a chance to get his name on the score sheet. A little more composure and he may have had an hat trick. Gordon Robson was brought on to replace Wilson, and like Jackson, took up residence in attack rather than his accustomed position on the right wing. A delicately chipped in ball by Middleton enabled Robson to join the burgeoning list of Toddy’s scorers. The score now stood at 7-1. It was to be the last of the scoring spree for the day. In fairness it should have been a lot more. The chances missed were equal in number to those that were put away.
The final whistle went and Toddy’s had continued where they left off against RWC. Maybe not in terms of performance level, which to be fair to the team was not really needed, but in invention and overall standard. The first 20 minutes or so were a little low key, but at no time in the game did Toddys.co.uk look like they were ever going to struggle. It seemed it was only a matter of time before the home side would step up a gear and finish off the opposition.
Toddy’s now face three games in a week. It is not beyond the team to take a maximum of 9 points from all the encounters. Manager Tarnjit Sangha said before the game
“The difference between a potentially class team and a class team is CONSISTENCY”
Toddys.co.uk are expected to win all three games this week. New Derby, Reel Redhouse and Hollymere.
If they win these games, the team will go some way to proving whether or not they have what it takes to be class, or whether it is yet still potential.
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Balance of power in Redhouse may be shifting..
Impressive performance in a very low key game.
Toddy’s 5 Redhouse WMC 1
Stephen Wilson 2, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson 2, Joseph Middleton
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Simon Williamson, Steven Ridley, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson (Neil Middlemiss), Joe Middleton, John Hunt (Scott Hembrough), Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Simon Williamson
Words cannot describe the feelings felt by all concerned with Toddys.co.uk following the team’s performance in a truly glorious victory over ‘The old enemy’. A performance of sheer brilliance was required by all 11 who would partake in proceedings including those who would come on as replacements. A performance of sheer brilliance is exactly what manager Tarnjit Sangha got.
Before the game, Sangha told his players that each and every one of them would have to play at 110% to achieve anything from the encounter. This was for the simple fact that RWC would be playing at 100% themselves. Toddys.co.uk were looking to become the first team ever to the ‘double’ over RWC. But more importantly with Title favourites Roseberry Leisure taking on The Club, this day could well and truly ring the death chimes for at least two of the four challengers for the Championship.
The first thing that struck everyone was the distinct lack of atmosphere. The last time these two old rivals had met there had been a huge build up to the game, including some major bets on what the outcome might result in. On the day of the first encounter, a crowd of nearly 200 had turned up to create an amazing atmosphere.
This time round there wasn’t even a quarter of the crowd, even though Toddy’s had the vast majority of who was there. RWC didn’t look as though they really wanted this game. There was a clear look of anxiety about both their demeanour and more importantly their play. There had been murmurings of discontent within their camp amongst some of their players, and with both John Butler and Scott Henderson missing, and Mark Blakey seemingly having played his last game for them, these rumours could have been well justified. Nevertheless, with the likes of Lee Young, Barry Philliskirk, and Trevor Walker amongst their ranks, RWC still posed a more than serious threat to any team.
For Toddys.co.uk, new boy Simon Williamson took up his position in the centre of midfield alongside Steven Ridley. With Lee Tait still injured, this was the obvious move to make. The rest of the team was pretty much to form.
The match kicked off and the immediate realisation was that both teams were clearly feeling the pressure of the occasion. Neither failed to settle on the ball, and the first 15 minutes was a rather scrappy affair. There was a strong wind and Toddy’s had it behind them for the first half. It was imperative that they took full advantage of this ‘advantage’. It was felt that the wind could well prove to play a large role in the outcome of the game. When the game did settle down, it was RWC that seemed to get the better of things. Both Darren Ridley and Trevor Walker on the wings were looking sprightly and it wasn’t long before RWC had their first shot at goal, Philliskirk sending a left foot drive just outside of the Toddy’s post. A wake up call was necessary, and Simon Williamson provided it. He brought the ball down superbly and immediately without even looking, fed ‘Pud’ Jackson the ball, who himself immediately ran at RWC’s right back David Walker, a despairing challenge by Walker was not enough to put Jackson off, as he sent in a cross ball that seemed to land in the only position where there was no Toddy’s player present. That was all Toddy’s needed to settle down. Just a few minutes later, a run by Joe Middleton on the right wing culminated with a cross sent along the ground that landed at Wilson’s feet. A quick turn with the ball and a rasping right foot shot gave Crombie in the RWC goal no chance. Toddy’s had took the lead. It was the first time in the game when either side had really taken the effort to get the ball down and play some sort of constructive football. The goal had clearly given Toddy’s the impetus to go on and impose themselves upon the game. Williamson who would go on and give a MoM performance was along with Ridley beginning to completely control the centre of the park. With this dominance assured, it was time for the rest of the team to really take the game by the scruff of the neck as to speak. Yet another run by ‘Pud’ Jackson resulted in what turned out to be a cross turned shot. Crombie completely misjudged the ball and let it go through him at the near post. Not only did it pass through him and the post, but the ball also carried over the line. Amazingly Toddy’s had gone 2-0 up. Despairingly for RWC, just moments later the whistle went for half time. Toddys.co.uk were well on target for a crucial victory.
Though not playing as well as they could, Toddy’s started the second half 2-0 up. RWC had taken off Lee Chape from his unusual role as a centre forward and brought on the excellent Lee Young. With Young partnering Philliskirk up front, RWC would surly cause Toddy’s severe problems in this half, especially with the luxury of having the wind behind them as well. Little did anyone know how the second half would really pan out?
A fantastic array of attacking football during a bewildering 45 minute spell left RWC trailing in Toddy’s wake. Season best performances by John Young in defence, Joe Middleton on the right wing, and especially Stephen Wilson in attack, contributed to a completely one-sided second half. Toddy’s created chance after chance. Wilson grabbed his second of the game, Joe Middleton further piled on the agony by scoring a fantastic goal from a superb through ball by Wilson, ‘Pud’ Jackson added to his seasonal tally of 19 as he stormed through on the left wing after being fed a delicious flicked pass by Simon Williamson. Before RWC knew where they were, the score had gone to 4. Trevor Walker did give them some solace with a wonderful strike that had brought the deficit down to 3-1, but it was only to prove a consolation strike. John Hunt was brought off following his gruelling physical confrontation with RWC’s Paul Mouat and replaced by Scott Hembrough; ‘Pud’ Jackson was taken off and replaced by Neil Middlemiss. Talk about making an impact. Both youngsters went on and proceeded to dismantle RWC. Middlemiss looked like a man possessed and set two of Toddy’s final goals up. Walker at right back must have been delighted to see the back of Jackson when he went off, but little did he know what Middlemiss would put him through. Hembrough was busy giving the RWC centre halves Mouat and Fox the run around and was extremely unlucky to hit the crossbar with a left foot drive.
Not only did Toddy’s score five, but they actually had the luxury of missing four one on ones. Joe Middleton twice, Wilson once and ‘Pud’ Jackson. In reality this is something that has worried manager Sangha for quite a while. On another day these misses could have cost Toddy’s dear, yet in the euphoria of the result were forgotten. It is a trait Toddy’s have to improve upon.
The final whistle went and Toddys.co.uk had overcome RWC 5-1. It was a magnificent performance from a team that has had to endure quite a lot over the past month. The two semi final defeats, William Harper’s resignation, and some derogatory remarks by others made toward the team as a whole. Yet taking aside the 3-2 defeat by The Club, Toddy’s have been fantastic over their last four games. Even the clash against The Club was a great performance marred only by the final score line.
I’d like to finish off by mentioning a few players that in my opinion gave what I consider while I’ve been at the club personal best performances. Joe Middleton who was absolutely stunning down the right wing, showing the kind of pace that I didn’t realise he had. John Young at the heart of defence for managing to see off the threat of one of the best forward lines in the league. Simon Williamson, who since his arrival has brought a different dimension to Toddy’s style of play. But last and definitely not least to Stephen Wilson for giving a career best performance in a Toddy’s shirt. Wilson had come in for some major criticism over the past few weeks. It seemed he had gone completely off his game. Yet against RWC, we all saw why he is such a highly regarded centre forward. His aggression, pace, and finishing was all of the highest order.
But it is vital all these plus the rest of the team maintain this high standard that they have now set themselves. The 9-3 victory over Mariner coupled with this 5-1 over RWC has taken Toddy’s on to another level in terms of their performances. Next week against Low Fell, a game Toddy’s will be well expected to win, the team must not let its guard down. They must go into this encounter with the same attitude and determination as they have done over the past two weeks. It is no good raising your game for a particular team than letting your standards drop thereafter.
Toddys.co.uk have a major chance to finish runners-up this season. The Title is now only a distinct possibility. If the team can manage to grab second spot, it will have been a huge accomplishment for the entire squad. Looking at all the results that have gone, it is now in the hands of the players to see if on Presentation Night, the least the team will walk away will be the Runners-up Trophy.
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Brilliant performance overshadowed as Harper makes a return.
The Butterman treats a Mariner player, as the players take a break in the heat.
Toddy’s 9 South Shields Mariner 3
John Hunt 4, Gavin Wilson 2, Stephen Wilson, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Gordon Robson
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson (William Harper), Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Joe Middleton, Steven Ridley, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, John Hunt, Scott Hembrough (Stephen Wilson).
Man of the Match Steven Ridley
Toddys.co.uk marked the start of British Summer Time with arguably their most distinguished performance of the season yet. A wonderful array of passing and attacking football, coupled with a fire and desire to compete for everything, left Mariner shattered in their wake.
No doubt the fact that Toddy’s were finally back on their home turf with its expansive size helped. Add to that, it being a beautiful sunny day leaving the pitch in a hard but near perfect condition all contributed to Toddy’s to perform the way they did. I’ve said all along, put Toddy’s on a large playing area with just a half decent pitch, and they will prove to be a handful for any team, as has proved to be the case this season.
Well it certainly proved to be the undoing of Mariner, who failed to make any real inroads into the Toddy’s team. The way the home side started proceedings left little doubt of what the final outcome was going to be.
Within just 5 minutes Toddy’s had took the lead. Gavin Wilson received the ball from a short taken free kick to blast the ball past a despairing Mariner goalkeeper. Wilson’ forays from the back were to prove a key factor throughout the game. Just a few minutes more had been added to the clock when John Hunt stepped up and calmly slotted home what was to be the first of his four goals for the day.
It seemed Toddy’s had well and truly got over the devastating semi final defeats of a few weeks ago. Not only that, but last week in defeat against The Club there was a buoyancy amongst the team, a feeling of not letting your head down and getting on with matters at hand. There was only going to be one winner against Mariner today, and that was going to be the home side. A bewildering display of fast moving, exciting football left Toddys 4-1 up at the interval. A further strike by Gavin Wilson added to a powerful half volley by Gordon Robson left Toddy’s in a very commanding position at the interval.
The second half turned out to be an even more one-sided affair. Toddy’s literally ran riot, causing untold mayhem in the Mariner defence. Chance after chance was being created, and for the first time in many weeks Toddy’s looked as though they were going to convert a vast majority of them. A well deserved hat trick by John Hunt in the second 45 minutes added to goals by ‘Pud’ Jackson and Stephen Wilson, gave Toddy’s 9 for the day. Some lapses in defending let Mariner in twice, but the game was well and truly beyond them at the time. The final score of 9-3 in favour to Toddy’s brought back memories of what the team were playing like at the start of the season when they just went out and steam rollered sides. The midfield of Middleton, replacing the injured Lee Tait and Ridley looked as commanding a midfield as Toddy’s have had this season. The defence with Young and Wilson marshalling the centre along with Ryan McNaught and Gary Jackson patrolling the flanks looked as though nothing would get pass them. ‘Pud’ Jackson was as annoying to the opposition as ever, while the ‘new, lean, mean’ Gordon Robson looked a constant threat. John Hunt looked as though he would score with every touch he took in the box, even when he looked as though he was trying his best to miss.
This was more like it. There seemed to be a swagger in Toddy’s play against Mariner. The team looked as though they were actually enjoying their football. Everyone seemed to be playing for each other, and the encouragement on the pitch was palpable. Davinder Sangha on the sideline summed the day up perfectly by simply saying ‘the buzz was back’. Next week sees the ‘rematch’ against RWC. It is a game where neither side can afford to lose if they still want to realise any hopes whatsoever of lifting the Title. With Roseberry taking on The Club on the same day, it could be said that this may be a ‘season defining’ moment. On current form, both Toddy’s and Roseberry should come out on top. Roseberry have already beaten The Club three times already this season and seem to have the ‘Indian Sign’ over them. The last time Toddy’s took on RWC, they reigned to a glorious 4-1 victory on what was a marvellous day for everyone concerned with the club. It is difficult to see a similar outcome this time round with so much to play for. But one thing is for certain, if Toddys.co.uk play like they have done today against Mariner, RWC will have to pull out all the stops to prevent the youngsters from becoming the first team ever to do the double over them.
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Wise heads come out on top
A game of two halves.
Goalmouth scramble in the second half.
The Club 3 Toddy’s 2
Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, John Hunt
Darren Lewis, John Young, Patrick Walsh, Ryan McNaught, Gavin Wilson, Lee Tait, Steven Ridley, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Gordon Robson (Scott Hembrough), Stephen Wilson, John Hunt.
Man of the Match John Young
It had been built up as the game neither side could afford to lose if they wanted to remain in the title race. Amazing how comments like that could be made, especially when considering we have just reached the half waypoint of the season. But the fact remained; Roseberry Leisure could and subsequently did go 9 points clear of Toddy’s following this defeat. The result left Toddy’s needing other teams to do them a favour if they were to get back in the Title race.
The last time these two contenders met, the game turned out to be a thrilling affair, with both teams sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw. However, Toddy’s had been the far better side, and it took a free kick in the last 5 minutes for The Club to claw the game back after being battered into near submission by a rampant Toddy’s. This encounter was to prove far closer.
Initially, this clash looked as though it was going to go the same way. The first half was virtually played in The Club’s half. Toddy’s went about their game superbly, and had the champions on a back foot immediately. An audacious long distant effort by Gordon Robson from the right wing on the half way line signalled Toddy’s intentions. The Club seemed a little set back. It was widely expected that they would come at Toddy’s all guns blazing, with ferocious tackling, but it was the away side that seemed to be putting ‘the foot in’ as to speak. It seemed to me The Club had learnt their lesson from the last encounter when strong-arm tactics only led to Toddy’s hitting them back even harder. It looked as though The Club had decided to dispense with the roughhouse tactics and try to beat their ‘younger’ opponents by playing the better football.
Despite Toddy’s dominance, it was the champions who took the lead, the Toddy’s rearguard getting caught out of position to let The Club through and score with what was their first opportunity in the game. Up until the goal, Toddy’s had dictated the game but hadn’t really tested the home team’s goalkeeper.
The goal didn’t deter Toddy’s. They kept on playing the way they had been doing so. They got their reward with an absolutely stunning equaliser. ‘Pud’ Jackson picked the ball up from a wonderful drifting cross by Lee Tait. It seemed Jackson’s first touch had taken the ball too far ahead of him, but just before the defender could put the tackle in, Jackson stretched out with ‘that’ left foot and chipped the keeper from a really tight angle. It looked as though the ball was going to clear the crossbar, but it dropped just under and settled into the back of the net. 1-1. Toddy’s were now really on top. The Club looked rattled. Tait and Ridley were getting the better of the midfield exchanges, while Walsh and Young had the defence repelling what The Club had to offer (not a sign of things to come).
However, first half domination was completed with a splendid move, a wicked cross by Gordon Robson was converted by John Hunt with the most delicate of headers to leave Toddy’s leading the game 2-1. At this point it did look as though Toddy’s were going to run away with the game. They should have. But The Club aren’t champions without having the knack of getting themselves back into a game they aren’t playing quite so well in. a trait all would be champions must have is to win a game you have no right to win. Throughout this encounter they were having a certain amount of success down the left flank of Toddy’s defence. Ryan McNaught was continuingly getting caught out of position allowing Gary Gettins of The Club to get in behind him. In the second half, this getting caught out of position would prove to be Toddy’s downfall in the game. But the last strike of the first half was left to Stephen Wilson. A guilt edge opportunity was spurned. At the time the Sangha brothers felt this could be the turning point of the game as to whether Toddy’s would go on to win the match or lose it. How true that turned out to be. Halftime 2-1 in favour to Toddys.co.uk.
Second half kicked off with The Club immediately going on the offensive. It was almost a complete carbon copy of the first half, when Toddy’s ran the show. Hylton Road is a pitch that has a severe incline. First half Toddy’s had had the ‘advantage’ of playing down the slope. But now it was the turn of The Club. Within minutes of the restart, The Club could have equalised, but Lewis pulled off the first of what was going to be 3 crucial saves to keep Toddy’s in the lead. The shape of the second half was set. For the first time this season, Toddy’s were being put under the cosh. Even when the team has been beaten of drawn in previous games, there have been periods when the side could have got back into the matches. But this was proving to be one-way traffic. Both Ryan McNaught and Gavin Wilson were getting caught too far up the pitch thus allowing the opposition wingers ample space to get in behind them. The midfield duo of Tait and Ridley completely lost control of the vital area of the park. ‘Pud’ Jackson and Robson on the wings were starved of any form of possession. Robson was took off to be replaced by the equally talented Scott Hembrough, who would actually only get to touch the ball on a few occasions. Following an heroic off the line clearance by Ryan McNaught and the subsequent knock to his ankle, Ryan was took off to be replaced by Gary Jackson, who could consider himself to be rather unfortunate to be left out in the first place. It was only a matter of time before The Club would get the equaliser they deserved. It duly came, but it had to come through a mistake, just to rub it in. A poor goal kick by Lewis dropped to the feet of the opposition, who caught the Toddy’s defence completely cold, thus slotting the ball past a hapless Darren Lewis.
It really looked as though there was going to be only one winner. The goal gave The Club the impetus they needed to drive forward and get the winning strike. For Toddy’s, the confidence just seemed to be seeping out of the team. The strikers were completely void of any service, and when they did get the ball, it was just glancing opportunities they had little chance of converting. The only thing Toddy’s could hope to get out of this game was a draw, and to do that they would have to try and keep what they had. But The Club were so much on top that it was looking a distinct possibility a draw would not be the final result. That possibility turned into reality with just 5 minutes remaining on the clock. Kevin Patterson made a darting run from midfield straight through the heart of the Toddy’s defence, and managed to finish it off via a one-two with one of his teammates. 3-2 to The Club. With just minutes until the full time whistle, time was up for Toddy’s. The referee blew, and Toddy’s had gone down to only their second league defeat of the season. But how crucial could the defeat turn out to be, only time would tell.
On the overall strength of play, The Club deserved the victory. They were the better side over 90 minutes of football. Even though Toddy’s dominated the first half proceedings, and scoring twice, the Club’s goalkeeper did not have a single save to make. This coupled with the amount of times the Toddy’s fullbacks were getting caught out of position, and it is no real surprise at the final result. For the defence, it should be a valuable lesson learnt. As for the forwards, the solution is simple, if you do not shoot on goal, you will not score. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that one out.
All the team can do now is try and finish as high up the table as possible, and make sure this season does not turn from disappointing one into a disastrous one.
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Well done Toddy’s!
A positive performance from everyone.
Lee Tait (Chatty): Blood, sweat and hair. The Toddy’s Spirit is alive and well.
Low Fell 3 Toddy’s 6
Stephen Wilson 3, Scott Hembrough, Joe Middleton 2
Gary Davison, John Young, Patrick Walsh (Davinder Sangha), Gary Jackson (Liam Dingwall), Lee Tait, Steven Ridley, Gordon Robson, Neil Middlemiss (Joe Middleton), Stephen Wilson, Scott Hembrough.
Man of the Match Lee Tait
celebrated his impressive
debut with a fine goal.
Following a tumultuous fortnight for the club with the two cup semi final defeats and culminating with the departure of William Harper as coach, Toddys.co.uk came back to destroy Low Fell with a performance full of renewed vigour and a hunger that seemed to be missing from the club. The 6-3 score line in no way reflects the shape and flow of direction in which the game went. The fact that Low Fell had only 3 efforts on goal of which two were penalties awarded in the last 10 minutes, gives indication of the sheer domination of Toddy’s F.C
This game was a real ‘drinking at the last chance saloon’ confrontation. Anything other than a victory could well have condemned Toddy’s to the role of also rans in the chase for the Title.
But it wasn’t just a victory that was needed. Toddy’s had a great deal to prove to a great many number of people, none more so than former coach, William Harper. William Harper left because he felt that the team could go no further under his tutelage. Either that, or he felt that he himself could take the team no further. A great many question marks had been raised over the heads of quite a few of the ‘senior’ players at Toddys.co.uk. Whether or not these accusations were fair, it was up to these individuals to go out and prove their worth to the club. Names will not be mentioned. But following this performance, each and every member of Toddys.co.uk can hold their head up high and be proud of the way they applied themselves in this encounter.
From the off, Toddy’s took the game right too their opponents. Low Fell had no answer for the Toddy’s juggernaut. Scott Hembrough who was making his debut in attack, fit right in, it was almost as if he had played with his new team mates many times before. With Patrick Walsh returning to fill a huge void at the heart of the Toddy’s rearguard. The much-needed aerial strength had been restored. I completely lost count of the amount of times he won any high ball that came anywhere within his area, only if Toddy’s had had his services over the past couple of weeks, it really could have made the difference. Gordon Robson converting to right wing proved to be a revelation. It is a role he has played before, but it was the first time he was there since his comeback from long-term injury, pure brilliance. Amazingly, Toddy’s had had at least four clear goal scoring opportunities prevented by the Low Fell keeper in the first 10 minutes. So it was even more amazing when with there first attack, Low Fell took the lead, but it was a superb volley, leaving Davison in the Toddy’s goal with little chance of getting anywhere near it. But that was it; Toddy’s took the game by the scruff of the neck from here on in. Wilson took just 10 minutes to find the net for the equaliser. Incessant pressure paid off again when brilliant solo play by Scott Hembrough led to Toddy’s taking the lead. At this point the visitors were completely running away with the game. Chance after chance was being created, yet the end result was thwarted either by a shot going wide, or the Low Fell goal keeper coming to the rescue. Twice in the first half the cross bar and post also decided to favour Low Fell. The half time whistle went with Toddy’s leading 2-1. It should have been so many more.
The second half started just as the first finished. Toddy’s took little time in picking up the pace of the game. Low Fell were going to be in for a torrid second period. Wave after wave of Toddy’s attacks rained down on the Low Fell goal. Gordon Robson and Neil Middlemiss were having the times of their lives raiding down the flanks, while at all times the Toddy’s defence was comfortably coping with anything that Low Fell had to throw at them, which wasn’t very much, evidence of this being the occasional foray of Toddy’s centre half John Young into the opposition half. One such run and subsequent shot nearly ended with what would have been the goal of the season. The Low Fell keeper yet again coming to the rescue just tipping the shot over the bar. The longer the game went at 2-1, the more worried the Toddy’s line was beginning to become. There was always the chance that Low Fell might at some point comeback into the game and snatch an equaliser. It was imperative that Toddy’s grabbed that third goal and give themselves some breathing space. The goal finally came via of all people a mistake by the Low Fell keeper who had been brilliant throughout. A poorly cleared ball landed at the feet of Wilson who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net. 3-1. Now the team could settle down. Middlemiss was took off to be replaced by Joe Middleton, who would go on to claim centre stage. Toddy’s had a corner kick. Middleton went over to take it. He had only one thing on his mind, to fire the ball right in on the keeper. He did just that and a wonderfully hit ball flew into the back of the net. However, he wasn’t content with that. Only 10 minutes later, a clearance by the Low Fell keeper, which reached the half way line but left him out of position, was fired straight back in by Joe Middleton. The whole team cheered as the ball hit the back of the net. 5-1. It was now turning into an exhibition. Gary Jackson was brought off from left back following yet another brilliant display of cool calm footballing prowess, to be replaced by Liam Dingwall. Within 5 minutes of Liam coming on, Wilson completed his hat trick. However, a mistimed challenge by Dingwall, led to Low Fell being awarded a penalty kick. Davison was hugely unlucky not to get a parry on the ball to fire it back out. The goal didn’t make any difference to the overall outcome, but the fact that Low Fell were than awarded a second spot kick, again through a badly timed challenge by Dingwall, did start to raise a few concerns. Again Davison got a hand to the ball, but just failed to keep it out. The score was now 6-3 in favour to Toddy’s. With Patrick Walsh feeling a niggling injury he was took off to be replaced by Davinder Sangha, who comfortably tucked into right back, with Ryan McNaught being the Mr Versatile that he is slotting into centre half.
The final whistle went. Toddys.co.uk had won the game with ease.
The team required a performance. That is exactly what they gave. In reality, it would have been an absolutely fair reflection on the game if Toddy’s had hit double figures. The performance of Scott Hembrough was a huge plus to the team. The boy is going to prove to be a huge asset to the club. As is the return to the squad of Patrick Walsh at the heart of defence. Next week Gavin Wilson returns from a 4-week lay off due to a knee injury. John Hunt also returns from a 5-week ban.
There was a huge cloud beginning to circle around Toddy’s. But following this performance, the return of key players, and the signing of Scott Hembrough, it seems the sun may yet manage to break through. Let us hope that the trials and tribulations of the past fortnight are well and truly behind the club. Tarnjit Sangha said before the match ‘Toddy’s have 14 cup finals to play before the end of the season’. Judging by the result against Low Fell, and how it was achieved, you never know, the team might still surprise a few people yet.
Tarnjit Sangha takes full control of the team.
Mr. Harper resigned from Toddy’s in the changing room after the recent defeat against Reel Redhouse. Despite a change of heart a few hours later, wheels were already in motion and Mr. Harper was no longer Team Coach of Toddy’s. Tarnjit Sangha takes over until the end of the season. Sangha has been in charge before and the highlights were a 6 match winning streak whenever he took control. Hopefully Toddy’s can go a step further. Despite the recent set backs, Toddy’s are by far the most professionally organised team in the League. Other teams should consider making a note of the Toddy’s set up in this past season and should model themselves on it.
Scott Hembrough officially signed two weeks ago but was unable to play due to the Semi Final ruling which needed players to play at least two league games before being allowed to play in a cup game. Scott is well known as a prolific attacker for Lance Roberts in the Sassco Leagues and has extensive experience in 11-a-side. With Anthony Langan, apparently not being considered for selection after the Reel Redhouse debacle means the signing is most welcome.
Arjan Cup Semi Final
William Harper resigns.
A 2-0 lead turns into a 3-2 deficit.
Middlemiss on the wing in the disastrous defeat against Reel Redhouse
Reel Redhouse 3 Toddy’s 2
Stephen Jackson, Lee Tait (pen)
Gary Davison, Liam Dingwall, Ryan McNaught, John Young, Lee Tait, Neil Middlemiss, Steven Ridley, Gary Jackson, Stephen Wilson, Stephen Jackson, Gordon Robson (Anthony Langan).
Man of the Match Steven Ridley
Following last weeks disastrous defeat to Roseberry Leisure in the League Cup Semi Final, Toddys.co.uk had full chance to redeem themselves in this Sangha Cup Semi Final against close rivals Reel Redhouse. On paper the game was a mismatch. Redhouse were languishing near the foot of the table, while Toddy’s were flying high in with a great chance of the Championship. However, a closer look at the recent form of both teams could well have given an indication to the keen observer that this game was going to be a far closer affair than what might first have been expected.
Toddy’s started like a house on fire. Reel Redhouse were literally left reeling at the passing and movement of Toddy’s. They had very little resistance to the game that was going on around them. The team talk in the Toddy’s dressing room prior to the match had been short, sharp and abrupt to say the least; William Harper had stated that if he did not get the required performance from the team, heads would roll.
Well if he wanted to get a response, he certainly got it. The team looked sharp. They looked as if the message from the management had hit hard. Toddy’s looked like a team possessed, and Reel Redhouse could only batten down the hatches and hope the storm would blow over. All Toddy’s required to rubber stamp their dominance was a goal, and what a goal it was. Gary Jackson picked the ball up half way in his own half and sent a long cross-field ball that drifted over the head of the right back of Redhouse. His brother, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson latched onto the ball after only one bounce and cleverly lobbed the oncoming Redhouse goal keeper to send the ball flying into an open net. 1-0, and fully deserved. For the rest of the first half, the dominance continued, but without the all-important second goal. The halftime whistle went with the favourites leading at the interval.
Nothing much could be said at the half time interval that could improve the team’s already impressive performance during the first 45 minutes. Toddy’s were now half way to decimating last week’s dreadful display against Roseberry. But the all-important goal was needed. The second half started just as the first had ended, Toddy’s on the attack. ‘Pud’ Jackson was having an excellent game down the left flank, and along with Middlemiss down the right, it seemed this was where the next goal would come from. Tait and Ridley were well in command of central midfield. A sudden break by ‘Pud’ Jackson as he took the ball off Reel’s Dale Usher, who couldn’t shield the ball out of play, resulted in Usher pulling Jackson’s shirt inside the penalty box. There was no doubt it was a penalty kick. Lee Tait immediately stepped up and calmly slotted home the resulting spot kick. 2-0, surly the game was now over as a contest? How wrong we could be.
One of the sole reasons why Toddy’s failed so miserably against Roseberry last week, was their inability to cope with the long ball into the box. Since the absence of influential centre half, Patrick Walsh, this has rapidly become the team’s Achilles heel. Reel Redhouse used the same tactic to get themselves back into the game. A corner kick was sent flying in, and before any of the Toddy’s defence could react, Darren Drinkald jumped up to send a bullet header flying past the despairing Gary Davison in the Toddy’s goal. 2-1. Game on. With Redhouse getting this one goal back, the whole emphasis of the contest shifted. It shifted whole-heartedly into Redhouse’ favour. For 70 minutes of the match, Toddy’s had dominated. Yet as soon as Reel got one goal back, the doubts clearly started to appear. You could physically see the change in stature of both team’s Reel grew while Toddy’s sank. Anthony Langan was brought on in place of Gordon Robson, but the change did nothing at all to stem the tide that was rapidly growing against Toddy’s. Reel got their deserved equaliser, with yet anther long ball causing havoc in the Toddy’s penalty box. Drinkald being the quickest to react again and levelling the tie.
There looked like only one winner. Reel were building a real head of steam up. Toddy’s looked physically drained. It was amazing. For 70 minutes, this was looking like such a one-sided affair that would fizzle out into a comfortable win for Toddy’s. Yet here we were, 2-2, and Reel Redhouse on the ascendancy. They wanted it more, they had more fire in their bellies, and they knew exactly how to hurt Toddy’s. ‘HIT THAT LONG BALL’. The final nail was thrust deep into Toddy’s coffin, when with just 3 minutes left on the clock, a speculative long ball was cleared deep from within the Reel Redhouse half. It caught the entire Toddy’s rearguard napping with just Ryan McNaught at the back. McNaught failed to clear the ball first time, thus letting Drinkald in who raced away to slot the ball past Davison to complete his memorable hat trick. Incredibly, Reel Redhouse had come from 2-0 down, after being completely outplayed for much of the game to record what was to become a famous victory over their much-fancied neighbours.
The final whistle went. A huge cheer from the Reel Redhouse team was met with sheer and complete horror from the Toddy’s side. In the space of one week, Toddys.co.uk had seen their season virtually obliterated by two performances that were not expected by anyone outside of the Toddy’s camp, never mind the team itself. It is important however, not to take anything away from the Reel Redhouse. For a vast majority of the cup-tie, Reel were left chasing shadows, but they never gave up. They had a desire on the day that Toddy’s just could not match. They had a belief in themselves that Toddy’s clearly did not have. Well-done Reel Redhouse.
So where did this leave Toddy’s. Here was a team that truly believed it could pick up three trophies this season. Yet here was a team that when it was required of them to put their beliefs to the test, failed miserably. Following the game and after much soul searching, coach William Harper decided to call it a day. He felt that he could no longer take the team where he wanted it to go. It was a hugely controversial decision, of which the fallout will not be pleasant.
But we must all respect whatever decision William Harper makes. He has decided he no longer wants the job. I personally know how difficult a decision this was for Billy. And I alone probably understand why he came to it in the end.
For Toddys.co.uk, judgement day really has arrived. The team now has 14 league games left. Toddy’s are in a wonderful position to still stake their claim for the Title. But a whole and complete reversal in attitudes is now required before anything on a football pitch is done. It’s now up to Me, Tarnjit Sangha to see if I can lift the team and get it through to the end of the season, without the season blowing up right in the player’s faces. There is a real danger of what promised so much, failing to deliver anything. Low Fell next week. We dare not fail.
League Cup Semi Final
William Harper is seething after a capitulation in the Semi’s.
A none to happy Mr Harper in the changing rooms afterwards.
Roseberry Leisure 4 Toddy’s 2
Stephen Wilson, Stephen Jackson
Gary Davison, Liam Dingwall (Joe Middleton), Ryan McNaught, John Young, Lee Tait, Neil Middlemiss, Steven Ridley, Gary Jackson, Stephen Wilson, Stephen Jackson, Gordon Robson.
Man of the Match Stephen Ridley
Toddys.co.uk saved their worst performance of the season for arguably their biggest match of the season so far. The team were fully confident and well enough prepared despite the long injury list that left the side with just one substitute available, to go on and win this encounter against a side that Toddy’s had played twice before this season and out performed on both occasions.
It was important for Toddy’s to stamp their authority on the game immediately. Roseberry had deliberately had the game switched to a sub standard pitch, to counter the footballing ability of Toddy’s. But that should not have been reason enough for the Toddy’s team to play like they did.
Roseberry dominated the game right from the off. It was clear that Toddy’s lack of height throughout the team would be the bane of their game in this football match. Roseberry played on this by constantly hitting in the long ball right into the heart of the Toddy’s defence, where only John Young had any real stature in height. But even he was unable to combat the aerial power of the Roseberry centre forward, Gary Graham.
The constant aerial bombardment had to pay off sooner than later, and it did. Roseberry took the lead. To Toddy’s credit, they did manage to grab an equaliser following some good sustained pressure. Stephen Wilson grabbing the goal. But it didn’t take long for Roseberry to edge ahead yet again. A serious lapse in concentration by the Toddy’s rearguard led to them falling behind yet again. At the halftime interval, Toddy’s were trailing 2-1.
The second half started pretty much as the first had ended, Roseberry applying all the pressure, but it was a fabulous individual goal by ‘Pud’ Jackson that levelled the scores for Toddy’s. For the next 10 minutes Toddy’s dominated the game. For the first time the passing was crisp and the movement was excellent. But it was too much to ask of the team to continue this right through to the final whistle. Following 10 minutes of domination, for some reason Toddy’s decided to go back into their shell. This was all the impetus Roseberry needed to get their show back on the road. Two more goals ended the match 4-2 to the home side, and saw Toddy’s eliminated form the League Cup, a cup that they were expected by many to win.
It was a strange performance. I know my match report is far less detailed and thorough than usual. But how many different ways of writing ‘inept performance’ can I write. A lot of time, money and effort off the field have been invested in Toddys.co.uk. In local football, the only way you see any kind of return on this type of investment is through Trophies. For Toddy’s to put on there most impotent performance of the season, for such an important game really does show a kind of contempt for the management.
I have to congratulate Roseberry Leisure. They are a team that many have said are in a false position in all competitions. People have said that it is only a matter of time before they are found out to be the team they really are. Well, I feel that tag should now be hung around the necks of Toddys.co.uk.
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Disappointing performance yields 3 points.
Class eventually shows with several goals in as many minutes.
William Harper trudges off the pitch – a failed experiment in attack as age takes it toll.
Studio 2000 2 Toddy’s 6
Stephen Wilson 4, Neil Middlemiss, Stephen Jackson
Darren Lewis, Liam Dingwall (Lee Tait), Patrick Walsh (Ryan McNaught), John Young, Gavin Wilson, Neil Middlemiss, Steven Ridley, Gary Jackson, Joe Middleton, Stephen Wilson, William Harper (Stephen Jackson).
Man of the Match Stephen Wilson
Considering the fact that the last two encounters with Studio 2000 had yielded 21 goals for, and just 1 against, Toddys.co.uk could have been forgiven for going into this encounter with quite a confident state of mind. You can’t blame them, Studio 2000 are rock bottom of the league with just one victory all season to their name. But as the old adage says ‘football is a funny old game’. Yes Toddy’s did win the game, and looking at the score, 6-2, you would think quite easily. But to say Studio 2000 did deserve more out of the game would be a bit of an understatement. For nearly 60 minutes, Studio were the better side, and for the entirety of the first half, Toddy’s were distinctly second best. The fact that Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Ryan McNaught and Lee Tait were not deemed fit enough to start the game and Dean Wardle and Anthony Langan not being available should not be used as an excuse for Toddy’s lack of endeavour. There was more than ample enough talent on the pitch for the team to have achieved a considerably strong performance.
The most surprising inclusion in the team had to be the role of manager William Harper making his seasonal debut of all places in attack alongside Stephen Wilson. With Langan missing, Hunt suspended and ‘Pud’ Jackson not quite match fit, it may not have been quite the controversial selection it first seemed. Harper more than enough possessed the intelligence to play the role to its full, the problem turned out to be the partnership just didn’t click on the day. But to lay the blame at the feet of the forwards would be an unjust travesty. The entire team failed to perform. Ridley in midfield had probably his most least influential game to date, and with the young Gary Jackson playing alongside him, it was the worst time for Ridley to under perform, saying that, Jackson was one of the few players who I thought had an excellent game considering the circumstances. Studio seemed to be first to the ball, their challenges were stronger, and the movement was more decisive. It was amazing on this performance to understand why they are rock bottom of the league. It was therefore of no surprise when they did take the lead. Following the goal, Studio created a couple of great chances, and had any of them gone in and Toddy’s being 2 down, we could well have been in for the shock of the season. But the one thing Toddys.co.uk do possess is huge goal scoring potential. A superb cross by Neil Middlemiss was met with a wonderful cushion header by Stephen Wilson, which levelled the scores. It was the least Wilson could have done. Prior to his goal, he had missed two wonderful opportunities, which he should have netted with ease. Half time came with both teams drawing 1-1.
The second half started just as the first half had. Studio 2000 were still on the ascendancy. Changes had to be wrung. William Harper was taken off to be replaced by ‘Pud’ Jackson, who immediately took up his new position in attack with Stephen Wilson. The injection of pace was needed and with these two up front, Toddy’s had it in abundance. Within 5 minutes of Jackson coming on, the second substitution was made, off came Patrick Walsh from his long awaited return and from his new role as right back, to be replaced by Ryan McNaught, who went to left back with Liam Dingwall switching to right back. Toddy’s started to gain back some of the initiative lost to Studio 2000. The play looked a little more cohesive, and the pace and speed up front was causing untold trouble to the Studio defenders. Wilson made full use of the change in momentum by grabbing another goal to take Toddy’s into the lead for the first time in the match. But still it didn’t look totally safe. Toddy’s needed a third to make the game safe. Tarnjit Sangha who was running the side made his final throw of the dice. Off came Liam Dingwall, Gary Jackson was sent to right back, with Lee Tait coming on to partner the below par Steven Ridley in midfield. The change worked. With 20 minutes left on the clock, Toddy’s grabbed a third, again through Wilson. At last, it looked as though the Studio 2000 flame had been finally extinguished. For the first time in the entire match, Toddy’s started to play more like what they are accustomed to. Wilson went on to grab his fourth goal, with both ‘Pud’ Jackson and Neil Middlemiss grabbing one a piece either side of Wilson’s goal. Studio grabbed late consolation with a little help from Darren Lewis in the Toddy’s goal, the usual moment of a lack of concentration he is prone to during a match, we’ll give him that, he did make two outstanding saves in the first half. The final whistle went with the scores finishing Studio 2000 2 Toddys.co.uk 6.
The classic football phrase, ‘the result did not give a clear reflection of the game’ could not be better used than to describe this game. Studio 2000 did not deserve a 6-2 defeat. I’m not saying they deserved to win. I think Toddy’s did enough and created enough chances to deserve the 3 points. It’s just that the performance by Toddy’s on the whole was well below par.
Next week sees the first of Toddy’s ‘big’ games. The semi final of the Sangha Cup against local rivals Reel Redhouse. Redhouse themselves got the perfect gee up with a resounding 8-2 victory over a useful Ivy House side, so they will go into the game full of confidence. Toddys.co.uk need to improve their game ten fold. Anything less and we could have a major shock result on our hands next week. Toddy’s are the holders of the Sangha Cup; it is a trophy that is sponsored by Tarnjit Sangha himself. It does not even bare thinking that Toddys.co.uk will not be in the final defending the trophy they won so dramatically last season with a last minute goal from Stephen Wilson. We shall see.
Toddy’s and William Harper.
The hearing held at the Dagmar on the 7th February ended in essentially a “slap on the wrists” for Toddy’s concerning the Low Fell incident. The hearing which was adjudicated by, amongst others, Peter Maguire and John Topping. The end result was that the Dunsford Committee were unable to push a charge of misconduct against Toddy’s…..which was nice.
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Inspired performance on a terrible pitch.
Depleted squad destroys Federal.
Neil Middlemiss was awarded MoM with two exceptional goals.
Federal Mogul 1 Toddys.co.uk 5
Neil Middlemiss 2, Stephen Wilson, Anthony Langan
Darren Lewis, John Young, Ryan McNaught, Liam Dingwall, Gary Jackson, Neil Middlemiss, Lee Tait, Steven Ridley, Joe Middleton (Gary Davison), Anthony Langan, Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Neil Middlemiss
With the likes of Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Dean Wardle, Gavin Wilson, John Hunt, Patrick Walsh, and Gary Gilby all missing through injury, the game against an extremely useful Federal Mogul side proved an ample opportunity for Toddy’s to show the just how deep their strength of squad really goes. Following 90 minutes of exhilarating football, they had done more than enough to prove it.
The match was clearly going to be dictated by the extreme windy conditions, and the result would depend on which of the two sides would cope the best. Toddy’s injury list was such that they could only name one substitute and that was goalkeeper Gary Davison deputising as an outfield player. Headlining the Toddy’s line up was the long awaited return of the talismanic Liam Dingwall, who immediately went into his accustomed right back slot, with usual occupant Ryan McNaught having to fill in as centre half due to the absence of Gavin Wilson.
The first 10 minutes belonged to Federal Mogul, who had a very strong wind behind them. You could literally hit the ball from the half way line and it could, if on target, trouble any goalkeeper. Toddy’s one weakness has to be the cross ball. It’s not surprising considering the lack of any real height throughout the team; with only centre half John Young being of any real tall stature. It was only here that Federal created any real danger. But their 10 or so minutes of pressure failed to yield any kind of reward.
However, the first attack Toddy’s had produced a magnificent opening goal. Neil Middlemiss who proved to be a revelation down the left flank took on two Federal players with pure aplomb and laid the ball off to Wilson who immediately fed it back to him. With absolute precision, Middlemiss slotted the ball into the back of the Federal Mogul net, giving the keeper no chance whatsoever. Toddy’s settled down. From here on in it was all one-way traffic. Toddys.co.uk played the type of football that the team had not played for quite a while. The passing was sharp, the movement was quick, and the tackling was hard but fair. The most pleasing aspect of it all however, was the fact that the defence looked solid. With the team playing like this, it was only a matter of time before they would further extend their lead, and duly they did, with the goal again coming from the brilliant Neil Middlemiss, who was having his best game in a Toddy’s shirt. 2-0. It was looking all too easy. However, it’s not like Toddy’s to always make things easy for themselves. Lewis in goal failed to keep hold of a looping cross and one of the Federal Mogul forwards was quickest to react. At the half time interval, Toddy’s led 2-1. Federal Mogul had given themselves a fighting chance.
With the wind behind them, the advantage clearly stood with Toddy’s when the second half kicked off. But was it such an advantage? Many times before, Toddy’s had failed to capitalise when having a strong wind with them. Was this to be the same? Thankfully not, the second half was a complete domination by the away side. Lewis was left with virtually nothing to do for the entire 45 minutes. Wave after wave of Toddy’s attacks rained down on the Federal defence. In reality, the second half was to turn into the Stephen Wilson and Anthony Langan show. But it was a perfect example of what was so good about their respective games, and subsequently what was so bad. Both strikers scored, and both goals were exquisite pieces of excellence. But the amount of chances that both individuals missed could be skewed as a cause for concern. There is no real excuse for missing a one on one opportunity with a goalkeeper. There is certainly no excuse for missing multiple one on one’s. This is proving to be a real bugbear with the management. Even though Toddy’s are far and away the top scorers in the league, the finishing has to improve. In reality Toddy’s should have finished the game with the score in possibly double figures, but with Langan and Wilson’s strikes taking the score to 4-1, the game only gave us one more goal and that was via an own goal in which a wicked low cross was sent into the Federal penalty area which caused panic and ensued with a defender’s out stretched leg turning the ball into his own net. Final score, Federal Mogul 1, Toddys.co.uk 5
Considering the absentees in the Toddy’s line up, this was truly a remarkable performance by the side. Federal Mogul are a good side, there is no doubt about that. But for Toddys.co.uk to play the way they did against such a side really does underlie the belief that this team can go all the way and lift the Title. With particular results going Toddy’s way, what seemed like an insurmountable gap between Toddy’s and the leaders Roseberry Leisure has now become easily sustainable. With the season not even at the halfway point for Toddys.co.uk, there is everything still to play for.
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End of the Title Challenge?
Just when you thought it was safe to wear a Toddy’s shirt.
Contrasting fortunes. Langan (left) had a blinder. John Hunt (right) was sent off.
South Shields Mariner 4 Toddys.co.uk 4
Anthony Langan 2, Stephen Wilson, Stephen Jackson
John Hunt sent off
Darren Lewis, Gavin Wilson, John Young, Joe Middleton, Ryan McNaught, Steven Ridley, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, Lee Tait (Gary Jackson), Neil Middlemiss (Anthony Langan), Stephen Wilson, John Hunt (Sent off).
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
There’s nothing like a good kick up the backside when you think everything is going just fine. The performance against South Shields Mariner was a hark back to the bad old days of Toddy’s F.C when flamboyant attacking flair went hand in hand with equally ludicrous defending. The fact that John Hunt was sent off half way trough the first half might have seemed a crucial factor in the teams failure to grab all the points from an encounter they were well expected to win with ease, but closer analysis of the game yielded the belief that 10 men on the pitch had really very little to do with Toddy’s conceding 4 goals.
It was all going so well, as Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson put the away side in the lead with a typically hit shot full of venom. With Toddy’s leading 1-0 and comfortably on top, it really did seem a matter of time before the team would bang in a second and cruise to victory. The Mariner goalkeeper was having an outstanding game defying his size by showing great agility between the sticks.
But half way through the first half came Toddy’s first of many moments of madness. A rather cynical but non malicious tackle on John Hunt by a Mariner defender caused Hunt to lose his head completely and push his hand into the face of his quarry. This all happened right in front of the referee, and it was of no surprise when the centre forward was sent off.
So, 10 men with 45 minutes to go. Shouldn’t have really been a problem. Earlier in the season, Toddy’s had beaten Federal Mogul 5-3 after extra time in a Sangha Cup tie, actually scoring their 2 goals with just 9 men on the pitch. Personally, I felt there was very little to be worried about. Toddys.co.uk are certainly a side that can hold its own even with 10 men on the pitch.
But I didn’t expect to see the type of defending that was to come. A catalogue of defensive mishaps saw Mariner go 3-1 up. It was so infuriating for the management, as it was the kinds of mistakes that were considered thing of the past. Diving in on challenges, complete failure to deal with crosses, and just plain bad decision making at the heart of the defence when the ball should have been cleared with ease.
It looked all lost. 3-1 down, 10 men on the pitch, and playing badly. Anthony Langan was sent on with just 20 minutes to go. His job. Get the team out of its current predicament. The boy has to be given credit. Two superbly took goals preceded by a deft strike from Wilson saw Toddy’s leading the game 4-3. Surely they could hold the lead and walk away with an incredible 3 points. But it wasn’t to be. With the defence playing the way they had been all game, it was left to them to have the last say. Yet another mix-up at the back saw Mariner equalise with just a few minutes left on the clock. In fact, it took a last ditch tackle by Ryan McNaught to prevent Toddy’s from losing the game. All in all, not a good day at the office.
It was a day when Toddy’s should have closed the gap on the leaders, and increase their chances of the Title. A 4-4 draw was not what the team had in mind. Maybe the side went into the game with a tinge of over confidence. If they did, they got what they deserved. The team has to understand that every game they play has to be tackled with the utmost professional attitude and concentration. I disagree that the sending off of John Hunt was the key turning point of the game. A 10 man Toddy’s should have been good enough to take all 3 points. No, what was really disturbing was the amount of mistakes made at the back for the team. Let us hope that this was a one off. Toddy’s have been superb at the back all season, and we should not let just one game mar what has occurred before. Let’s just make sure it does not happen again.
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Effective and Clinical.
An impressive First Half performance ends the game.
First Half action. Hunt and Joe Middleton (11) in the midst of things.
New Derby 2 Toddys.co.uk 5
Stephen Wilson 3 John Hunt 2
Gary Davison, Gary Jackson, Patrick Walsh (John Young), Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Joe Middleton, Steven Ridley, Gary Gilby (Lee Tait), Neil Middlemiss, John Hunt, Stephen Wilson (Anthony Langan).
Man of the Match Stephen Ridley
A wonderful exhibition of attacking football meant the tie as a contest was over by half time. Toddys.co.uk following some undue criticism for the front two destroyed New Derby with a blistering first half hour.
The last time Toddy’s played New Derby, the game ended all square 1-1. It was seen as a huge setback for Toddy’s Title aspirations. On that occasion New Derby had packed their defence and opted for the loan striker up front. The tactic was deemed a success. New Derby managed to nullify Toddy’s into their least effective performance of the season. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes when an equaliser by the now former Toddy’s player Christian Baines managed to grab Toddy’s a share of the spoils, and save them from a rather ignominious defeat.
The onus was on Toddy’s to go out and set about their opposition from the off. I’m sure New Derby were quite content with playing the exact same tactics as they did last time out. It was imperative that Toddy’s got the vital early goal, which would force New Derby out of their shell. Both Stephen Wilson and John Hunt had come in for recent criticism about their roles as strikers. The criticism could have been seen as rather unfair when looking at the amount of goals the duo had fired in so far this season. It was felt by the management that with no real competition for the striker’s role, the two had fallen into a somewhat ‘comfort zone’. Well, this was the primary reason why Anthony Langan had been signed from RWC. A proven goal scorer, but a player with a tendency to be a little temperamental.
Well what a way to silence your critics. Within the first half hour Toddy’s had torn right through the heart of the New Derby defence. A non-stop display of physical power and ruthless efficiency had seen the visitors take a 5-0 lead at the break. And furthermore, Wilson had helped himself to a hat trick, while John Hunt had to settle for ‘just two’. Gary Gilby who surprisingly had been chosen ahead of the ‘big two’, Lee Tait and Dean Wardle, was having a superb game alongside Steven Ridley. With the likes of the two mentioned along with John Young and ‘Pud’ Jackson on bench. This really did prove that toddy’s had real strength in depth. This game was over.
The second half was understandably a rather tepid affair. Toddys.co.uk had clearly took a step of the gas pedal. Anthony Langan had replaced Stephen Wilson at the break. Gary Gilby had sustained what looked like a serious leg injury, which meant Lee Tait took his place in the heart of midfield. Toddy’s did still attack, but it was no where near as incessantly as they did in the first half, you can’t blame them, there was no need too. Patrick Walsh was brought off, and John Young went on to complete the set of substitutions. New Derby even managed to claw two goals back, but they were completely irrelevant.
The final whistle went with Toddys.co.uk progressing into the semi finals with ease. Biggest plaudits of the day had to go to Stephen Wilson and John Hunt. Before the game they had been set an ultimatum. What better way to answer your critics than to go out and give a performance of sheer brilliance. Maybe Anthony Langan thought it would be a ‘piece of cake’ to grab one of the two forward spots. Not anymore.
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Explosive encounter ends all square.
Despite dominating the game, Toddy’s only manage a 2-2 draw
Half Time team talk. William Harper (centre) looks pensive.
Toddys.co.uk 2 The Club 2
Stephen Ridley, John Hunt
Darren Lewis, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Gavin Wilson, Patrick Walsh, Stephen Jackson, Joe Middleton (Neil Middlemiss), Lee Tait, Steven Ridley, John Hunt, Stephen Wilson
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
|Toddys return to their own half after going
2-1 ahead with a brilliant John Hunt goal.
Without doubt the biggest game of the day saw reigning champions, The Club, visit the Community North Sports Complex to take on Toddys.co.uk. With Ridley back from suspension for Toddy’s and The Club at full strength, this really was a clash to savour. It did not disappoint.
Right from the off, it was clear what The Club’s tactics were going to be. The team is renowned for it’s ability to play great football, but they are also legendary for their intimidating tactics. Within 5 minutes of the kick off Wilson in attack for Toddy’s had had his hand stamped on, and Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson was on the end of some rather unsavoury off the ball incidents. Kevin Patterson of The Club didn’t take long for what was to become a string of bookings for the champions. But as The Club found out like many more before them, this young Toddy’s side is well up to any form of physical challenge that is placed before them. This game was no different. Some of the challenges were of a ‘bone crunching’ nature. Tait and McNaught were just two of the Toddy’s line up that was dishing out what was coming at them. As a footballing spectacle, the game was a treat. The midfield duo of Kevin Patterson and Kevin Knapp are regarded as the best centre midfield partnership in the league. But against Lee Tait and Steven Ridley, there was very little to choose between them. Ridley was having a superb game considering he had been out for the last 5 weeks through suspension. Tait was revelling in the physical battle that was ensuing. As a passer of the ball Patterson of The Club is reckoned to be unsurpassed. However, Tait matched him pass for pass on the day and out muscled him in any 50/50. The absence of John Young at the heart of the Toddy’s defence was a cause for concern. Patrick Walsh came in to partner Gavin Wilson with quite a burden on his shoulders. Questions were being asked of him. Over the past few weeks, Patrick has found himself as third choice defender behind the both John Young and Gavin Wilson. I must add, not in the eyes of the management, but murmurs had been heard throughout the squad that he maybe wasn’t up to the renewed challenge this season. What better game than against The Club for Walsh to prove his ‘critics’ wrong. One of Patrick’s biggest failings as a centre half is his ability to get caught out of position. It was this failing that led to The Club’s opening goal. However, it has to be said that the forward was at least 3 yards off side when he received the ball, but the referee was too far back to see it. Against the run of play, The Club went 1-0 up. Until that point, Toddy’s were the better side. Joe Middleton and Stephen Jackson were tormenting the opposition fullbacks, especially ‘Pud’ Jackson, who was taking his opponent on at will and flying past him. On one occasion he flew past three of the opposition defenders only to see his shot parried by the keeper, Ridley should have tucked away the rebound, but the keeper again came to The Clubs rescue. It has to be said, the Toddy’s defence was up until the goal coping very well with what The Club had to throw at them, in particular the full backs, I mentioned him last week, but again, Gary Jackson at left back was showing the real potential of what he is capable of. With Ryan McNaught at right back, and now Gary Jackson at left back, not just the management, but a great many people in the ‘know’ believe Toddy’s have now got the two best full backs in the league.
The half time whistle went with Toddys.co.uk trailing 1-0. There is nothing that could be really said at the half time break to the team that they were not already doing on the pitch. But it was vital that the side kept on playing the way they had before the break, it was only a matter of time before the eventual breakthrough would come. It was also very important for the team to keep its concentration up. So far apart from the one lapse, The Club had not really posed much of a threat as an attacking force, but with the players they had, Toddy’s would have to be on full alert.
The second half started pretty much started as the first ended, with Toddy’s on the offensive. One thing The Club are excellent at doing is closing a game down. Their defensive record is second to none. Again this season, it looks like defensively they will be one of the hardest teams to break down. But Toddy’s have by far and away the best offensive record in the league. The team has scored at least 20 goals more than any other. I doubt if The Club will have come up against such a barrage of attacks as they did throughout this encounter. Through their desperation in defending, The Club were now starting to go a little overboard in their tackling, especially the ‘legendary’ Anthony Nelson, who’s red card record stands unparalleled. He had already received a yellow card for his efforts. Toddy’s were clearly getting on top. The Club’s defence was getting more tired as the game was going on. The back four is not exactly the youngest in the league, and against the Toddy’s front line, which is undoubtedly the youngest and the quickest in the league, there could surly be only one winner. The Toddy’s equaliser finally came via some extreme pressure that had to pay off. Following incessant pressure, the ball came back out of the Club’s defence only to land at Steven Ridley’s feet. He still had much to do, but calmly fired in an unstoppable drive leaving the keeper with no chance to get any where near it. Game on! From here on in, there was only one winner. The Club were now clearly on a back foot. Toddy’s kept the pressure right on. There was no let up. The reigning champions were there for the taking. Amazingly, Toddy’s went 2-1 up almost immediately. ‘Pud’ Jackson made another one of his raids down the left and fired in a low drive, which John Hunt calmly took past the keeper. Not even a despairing dive by one of the Club’s defenders could stop the ball from reaching the back of the net.Toddy’s were now 2-1 up. It was nothing short of what they deserved. Continuous pressure had finally paid off. What they needed now was another goal to kill off their much-vaunted opposition. But before they could do that, we had the pleasure of seeing a nigh on full 22 man pitch brawl all thanks to Anthony Nelson of The Club. First he tried to choke slam John Hunt, which was a grave error, not because of the size difference, Hunt dwarfing Nelson, but because Hunt has a PhD in wrestling and knows how to counter any move an individual tries upon him in that particular ‘sport’. So Nelson than decided to pick on someone his own size, but had the misfortune to opt for Stephen Wilson, who after having his handed stamped on early in the game, was looking for retribution. Wilson is not exactly one of the most stable individuals at the best of times, but in the heat of a huge football match, he is positively deranged. With Nelson deciding to use his right foot as a chopping axe, and the back of Wilson’s leg as chopping wood, it was all that was required to see the two of them embark into what can only be described as a male version of women’s mud wrestling. While this was going on, Co-manager William Harper and Kevin Patterson of the Club were busy disagreeing where the resulting free hick should be took from, I can’t remember who actually won that argument, but I do know that William Harper managed to get his good name booked, and a report sent to Durham about his behaviour. Wilson was booked while Nelson for the umpteenth time went off the pitch without being substituted. With 10 men against any team you would struggle, against Toddy’s it would be curtains. But here came Toddy’s biggest failing, and the real strength of the champions. Time after time, the management has criticised Toddy’s for not finishing off the opposition. Normally, you would expect a team to convert at least 50% of the chances created. Well Toddy’s seem to be at the 25% mark. If there is one crucial factor why Toddys.co.uk are not crowned champions at the end of this season, it will be for this reason wholly. It is of such concern to the management that they have decided to bring in Anthony Langan from fierce rivals RWC. If the current crop of Toddy’s centre forwards keeps failing, then changes could soon be made. The Club however, are a side that are synonymous with never giving up. It is why they went through the whole of last season without losing a single game in league competition in their victorious campaign. It was this ‘never say die’ attitude that became the prevailing factor and bane of Toddy’s day. With just around 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Patrick Walsh gave a way a silly free kick on the edge of his box. Up stepped Kevin Patterson, who has a deadly free kick. He swung one in that Gary Davison could only parry into the back of his own net. 2-2. The Club had come back from the dead. And Toddy’s inability to convert chances created really came to the fore. It was clear, The Club would now gladly settle for a share of the points, while Toddy’s would and should see this as 2 points dropped. The final whistle went and Toddy’s were left only to look back and think what could have been.
A draw against The Club and Toddys.co.uk disappointed. Amazing to think this is how the home sides changing room felt during the post match analysis. It really does show how far the team has come in such a short space of time. The future really does look bright (not orange). Toddy’s have now played all of their closest rivals this season. They were far superior to RWC, they played Roseberry Leisure twice and on both occasions despite the result in the first game, were easily the better side. The game against The Club held some trepidation for the Toddy’s youngsters, but the team showed that they could not only match the best, but also with a little more composure in front of goal easily beat the best.
Toddys.co.uk know they can compete and better all their rivals for the championship crown. This season holds no more mysteries for the team. From here on in, it’s all hands to the pump. Keep playing the way the team can, and the title will no longer be just a dream, it will become a reality. We wait and see.
The protracted signing of Anthony Langan from Redhouse WMC has finally been completed. Langan will now be available for all games from this Saturday
Arjan Sangha Cup, Quarter Finals
That’s more like it.
Previously undefeated Roseberry suffer a major setback.
McNaught evades a Roseberry challenge late on in the game.
Toddys.co.uk 4 Roseberry Leisure 1
John Hunt 2, Stephen Jackson, Ryan McNaught
Darren Lewis, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson, Neil Middlemiss (Christian Baines), Stephen Jackson, Lee Tait (Gary Gilby), Dean Wardle (Joe Middleton), John Hunt, Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Lee Tait
|The Butterman preparing Baines
for his third successive substitute
A stunning performance by Toddy’s kept them well on track to retaining the Arjan Sangha Cup they won in such dramatic style last season. A fabulous 4-1 victory over the only team with a 100% record in all competitions, Roseberry Leisure, underlined what Toddys.co.uk are capable of this season.
Toddys.co.uk went into this Quarterfinal clash against Roseberry with a bit of a point to prove. A few weeks ago, Roseberry Leisure inflicted Toddy’s only defeat to date this season in a top of the table league clash. However, it was a defeat that Toddy’s did not deserve. On the day they were the far better side and a combination of extreme luck for Roseberry, and awful individual errors by Toddy’s led the former to an unlikely 3-2 victory. So here was the ideal opportunity to right a few wrongs.
All week the mood in the Toddy’s camp was of extreme confidence. Each and every one of the players knew they had it within themselves to fend off Roseberry Leisure. Just looking at the faces of the players in the changing room prior to the cup-tie, it was difficult to surmise any other result but a victory.
The first few minutes of the game belied the initial feelings conveyed by the players. There was little movement off the ball; the midfield of Lee Tait and Dean Wardle was static. To compensate, it has to be said Roseberry themselves were not much better, thus the game for the first ten or so minutes was a rather uninspiring affair for the watching public. However, that was all about to change. An excellent passing move, which originated from the back and nearly ending with a goal via the boot of Stephen Wilson was all that Toddy’s needed to pull them together. From here on in, the tie was as one-sided a game you will see all season. Roseberry rely far to heavily on the services of Gary Golightly in attack. The solution is simple, cut off the supply, or just man-mark him out of the game and it leaves them with very few other options. Toddy’s decided on the former. It’s simple really. If you keep the ball, there is very little chance the opposition is going to have to cause you any harm. Toddy’s did exactly that. For the remainder of the half, which in terms of time was around 35 minutes. Roseberry could not get a whiff of the ball. Toddy’s were caressing the ball around the pitch with such aplomb and gusto. Lee Tait was having a magnificent influence on proceedings, which eventually led to his M-o-M award, while Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss on the wings were causing untold distress to the Roseberry fullbacks. Roseberry had one decent attack in the first half which led to Golightly striking a vicious shot that came rebounding back off the post, it was nice to see Roseberry leisure not have lady luck on their side for once. However, the highly rated Carl Reay in the Roseberry goal was having a brilliant first half. He was all that stood between Toddy’s and a 3-0 score line during the first third of the first half. In fact, this was all that was lacking from the home side. Chance after chance went begging, and it was looking as if Toddy’s were going to come in at the break with nothing to show for all their dominance. But then up stepped Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson to take a corner. He whipped in a vicious left foot cross that caused the until then unflappable Carl Reay to completely miss it and then stand in horror and see it hit the back of the net. 1-0 to Toddy’s. The goal was all that Toddy’s needed to settle down. All the chances that had went begging were beginning to play on the players minds, and feelings of déjà vu were creeping back. The lack of confidence that was emanating from the Roseberry players was tangible. They really did not look as though they had the fight in them. The feeling from the home side was that Roseberry were looking more and more like lambs to the slaughter. A wonderful first half showing was capped of superbly by Ryan McNaught who epitomised the Toddy’s spirit by over powering both the Roseberry left back and then the goal keeper to calmly slot the ball into the back of the net. At 2-0 the tie as a contest looked as good as over. Surly there was no way back even with a full 45 minutes to go for the Roseberry Leisure outfit.
Being 2-0 down was a situation that Roseberry will not have been in at all this season. For the first time this season, the notion of sitting back and hitting the opposition on the break was going to be of no use to them at all. This is what was said to the Toddy’s team at the interval. It was Roseberry who now had to chase the game. A facet that was alien to their play. The second half started with as expected Roseberry coming right back at Toddy’s. All the home side had to do was stand firm for the first five or so minutes and let Roseberry huff and puff and not let them blow the Toddy’s house down. For all their endeavours, Roseberry failed to penetrate the Toddy’s rearguard. It is important here to given a special mention to Gary Jackson, twin brother of Stephen Jackson, who at left back, was a having a superb outing. His ability to defend and play the ball out from the back was a joy to behold, and his link up with Stephen was a fundamental part to the success Toddy’s were achieving against their previously unbeaten opposition. Toddy’s had now weathered what little Roseberry could throw at them, and it was now time to step up a gear and finish the job. Dean Wardle was brought off after having a ‘quiet’ influence on the game and was replaced by the ‘all action’ Joe Middleton, who slotted into his midfield berth. Within 5 minutes of that substitution, Neil Middlemiss following a long over due excellent performance was replaced by Christian Baines who seems to be showing signs of coming back to his best form. The substitutions inspired Toddy’s to even greater heights. A wonderful piece of play culminated in John Hunt getting his name on the score sheet to take Toddy’s 3-0 up. The only question now was, how many would Toddys.co.uk score? Roseberry were completely out of it. Their heads were down, hands were on hips. It looked as if the only consolation they could point to was that it was not a league match. John Young was again superbly marshalling the Toddy’s defence. John Hunt and Stephen Wilson were a constant threat in attack. ‘Pud’ Jackson was tormenting the entire left side of the Roseberry team. Baines’ trickery was turning the right side of the Roseberry Leisure into a show. The game was crowned off with probably the best goal of the match. A brilliant link up between the Jackson twins saw Stephen beat two Roseberry Leisure defenders and fire in a shot that Reay in goal could only parry out. John Hunt was razor sharp off the mark to slot home an easy goal to take his tally to two and Toddy’s to four. A superlative performance had to be crowned off by Gavin Wilson who to be fair had had a fabulous match throughout, to remind Roseberry how they had beaten Toddy’s last time. Yet again Wilson was found dwelling on the ball, only to lose it to Golightly, who passed it across the goal for substitute Jimmy Donkin to slot into an empty net. The final score should have been at least 8-1, but the management were quite happy with 4-1. It now meant that Toddys would face a semi final date with the team they beat last season in the final, Shiney Row Oddfellows.
Toddys.co.uk finally got the chance to exorcise the ghost of 3 weeks ago when they went down 3-2 away to Roseberry Leisure. The fact is that there was not a great deal of difference between the two performances. Barring aside his last minute moment of madness for which he will be forgiven, Gavin Wilson along with Darren Lewis, the major culprits last time out against Roseberry, performed magnificently. Lewis who had very little to do, but when called upon didn’t let anyone down. Both can now be satisfied they have deservedly claimed redemption. Now comes the big test. On Saturday, Toddys.co.uk face the Champions The Club. The game is a huge match for both sides. Both teams share the equal number of points, but Toddy’s lead the way by a large margin on goal difference. Last season The Club beat Toddy’s twice and it has to be said deservedly so. But it also has to be said that last season, The Club were a far better outfit than Toddy’s. Toddys.co.uk can beat The Club, and it is this belief that must be carried forward into this coming Saturdays clash, which could be a season determining confrontation for not just Toddy’s, but also The Club. With Roseberry seeing out 2001 against the bottom three sides, it would be no surprise to see them going into the New Year with their 100% league record intact. It is vital for Toddy’s to keep up with them. Roseberry will lose their unbeaten run in the league, of that I am sure. But Toddys.co.uk must be close enough behind them to capitalise when it does happen. Catch up starts on Saturday in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season so far.
Arjan Sangha Cup
Toddys.co.uk v Shiney Row Oddfellows
Redhouse WMC v South Shields Mariner
Dates and venues TBC
Dunsford Business Supplies Tyne & Wear League
Another mediocre performance yields 3 points.
John Hunts best performance to date was rewarded with a substitution.
Ivy House 3 Toddys.co.uk 5
John Hunt 3, Stephen Wilson, John Young
Darren Lewis, Ryan McNaught, Gary Jackson (Gary Gilby), John Young, Patrick Walsh, Stephen Jackson, Dean Wardle, Lee Tait, Joe Middleton (Christian Baines), John Hunt (Neil Middlemiss), Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
|William Harper explaining his
tactical decisions to an attentive
I think the headline perfectly sums up the teams performance against Ivy House. Worryingly for Toddy’s, ‘mediocre’ could sum the team up over the past few weeks. It seems the team has lots its drive, which it had in abundance over the first 7 games of the season. Could it be a ‘lack of respect’ over certain opposition? Since the marvellous win over RWC, particular players in the squad have emanated the attitude that they only have to turn up for a match and the 3 points will be theirs for the taking.
For the first 10 minutes against Ivy House, Toddy’s looked as though the hunger was back in their game. Quick, sharp, incisive passing was cutting major inroads into the Ivy House defence. The state of the pitch was rather worrying; it brought back memories of the game against Roseberry Leisure when the surface made a huge impact on the teams performance. But Toddy’s seemed to be handling this particular surface quite well. The incessant pressure being created by the team throughout this passage of play had to yield a goal. Deservedly it did, Stephen Wilson latching onto a cross ball and firing it into the back of the net. Confidence was flowing through the entire team. Toddy’s were back to their best. An excellent goal by John Hunt doubled the teams advantage, and at this point, Toddy’s looked as thought they were going to run away with the game. However a split second lack of concentration allowed Ivy back into the game to half the deficit. However literally from the kick off a wonderful solo run by John Hunt, which ended with an exquisite finish added a third to the Toddy’s score line. Ivy House had no answer to what they were up against. It really was one-way traffic. John Hunt crowned off a marvellous first half display by hitting Toddy’s fourth and his third to give him his hat trick. The half time whistle went with Toddy’s seemingly, having finished the game as a contest.
One of the biggest problems the management have noted this season with Toddy’s, is their inability to kill off any opposition quickly. It is amazing to think that even though the team are far and away the highest scorers in the league, the amount of chances the side fails to convert are criminal. Against Ivy House this trait could not be better displayed. The team was leading 4-1 at the break, when in reality; the score should have been at least 8-1. Who could have predicted that a 4-1 score line might not have been enough for all 3 points? The second half kicked off, Gary Jackson was brought off and replaced by Gary Gilby. It was thought it would be a straight swap at right back, but Gilby instead was put into midfield and the team changed its formation from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. Ivy had added an extra player to their midfield so this move by Toddy’s was seen as a counter measure. It turned out to be exactly the opposite. Ivy began to find gaps at the back of the Toddy’s defence. The Ivy House forward line was constantly out numbering the 3 at the back. It led to Ivy’s second goal, which I must add they fully deserved. John Hunt was brought off to be replaced by Neil Middlemiss, who took his place in attack rather than the right wing. Christian Baines replaced Joe Middleton on the right wing. It did little to improve Toddy’s predicament. The team spurned chance after chance, while on the break, Ivy were looking increasingly dangerous. Patrick Walsh at the heart of Toddy’s defence was clearly feeling the strain of being out for the past 4 weeks. He seemed uncomfortable throughout the game, and was constantly being found out of position. The supply to the wingers had dried up thus starving the front men of the ammunition needed to cause concern for the Ivy rearguard. Against this rather disturbing backdrop, Ivy pulled another goal back to bring the score to 4-3. At this point the alarm bells started ringing. There was around 15 minutes left on the clock. It really was anyone’s game. Ivy House were now matching Toddy’s ball for ball, and tackle for tackle. It looked more as though they would equalise rather than Toddy’s grab a fifth. A wonderful save by Darren Lewis prevented Ivy House from levelling the game, and gave Toddy’s the realisation how close they were from being in a seemingly unassailable situation at half time to nearly being in a position to losing the match. It was left to captain and centre half John Young to make matters safe, as a rare foray into the opposition half saw the ball squared to him and Young lashing in a fierce drive which left the keeper with no chance. It was the last meaningful action of the contest. The final whistle went, with Toddy’s wining the game 5-3 to some relief.
Here we had the classic game of two halves. Toddy’s, magnificent, confident, razor sharp and clinical in the first 45 minutes. However, the words nervy, non-cohesive, inept in front of goal, perfectly summed up the second 45. So the question is why? Could it be the change of personnel? John Hunt was having probably his best game of the season, should he have been brought off? Gavin Wilson has been outstanding this season, should he have been left on the sidelines? Was it fair to give Patrick a full 90 minutes, when he could have been lacking in fitness? Why did the team change its formation when everything was quite perfect as it was? As you can see, there are many questions that can be asked. Can the management give all the answers?
Toddy’s next two games could very well shape the teams future this season. On Saturday they face Roseberry Leisure in the second round of the Sangha Cup. Everyone who saw the two sides clash in the league a few weeks ago will be hard pressed not to think Toddy’s deserved to win the game. They now have their chance to right that wrong. A week later Toddy’s face the daunting task of taking on the reigning Champions, The Club. This is a game neither team can afford to lose. The Club took maximum points away from Toddy’s last season over their two encounters. But this season we all know Toddy’s are a different outfit. Both games against Roseberry leisure and The Club are at Toddy’s home pitch, which has served the team so well this term. If Toddy’s come away from the next fortnight with two victories, I am adamant they really can go on and lift the Title and two cup competitions. This next fortnight will be the making or breaking of Toddys.co.uk. Let us hope it will be the former not the latter.
Dunsford Business Supplies Tyne & Wear League
Toddy’s give away goals but gain an easy 3 points.
Brief flare up involving Tait who was returning from a ban
Toddys.co.uk 6 Reel Redhouse 3
Stephen Wilson 3, Stephen Jackson 2, Ryan McNaught
Gary Davison, Ryan McNaught, Dean Wardle, Gavin Wilson (Patrick Walsh), Gary Gilby, Gordon Robson, Joe Middleton (Lee Tait), Neil Middlemiss (Christian Baines), Stephen Jackson, John Hunt, Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
Following the debacle of last week’s game between Low Fell and Toddys.co.uk, it was hoped the derby clash with Reel Redhouse would go unperturbed, at least that is off the pitch. Toddy’s were expected on form alone, to role over their opponents, who had got their season off to a torrid start. Confidence was high in the camp, even though the team was without the services of John Young, Steven Ridley, Gary Jackson, and Liam Dingwall through forced absence, and Lee Tait and Patrick Walsh even though back from suspension were on the bench. So with those absentees in mind, the team lined up as follows.
Gary Davison in goal, ahead of Darren Lewis. The back four consisted of Ryan McNaught and Gary Gilby as full backs, with Gavin Wilson and Dean Wardle as centre halves. The midfield quartet were Gordon Robson and Stephen Jackson on the wings, and rather surprisingly Joe Middleton and Neil Middlemiss occupying the centre midfield positions. John Hunt and Stephen Wilson were to lead the line.
So would the centre midfield partnership of Neil Middlemiss and Joe Middleton who have been so impressive when called upon in their natural roles on the right wing, be able to do the job that was required of them, especially considering that Lee Tait was now back from suspension and on the bench? Was it asking too much of Dean Wardle to continue filling in as centre back now that Patrick Walsh was available and free from suspension? We would soon know.
The immediate answer to both questions was a unanimous NO!! Toddy’s struggled to gain shape and looked decidedly ill at ease with the way the game was shaping up. It seemed the gamble of playing certain players in roles that they are not accustomed to was about to blow right up in the faces of both William Harper and Tarnjit Sangha. Reel Redhouse were playing the better football, seemed to have more aggression and looked as if they wanted to win the game more. So it was against the run of play that Toddy’s took the lead. Stephen Wilson using his pace to out run one of the Redhouse defenders and smashing the ball home. With Toddy’s leading 1 – 0, it was hoped the team would settle down and start playing the type of football they are rapidly becoming renowned for. But it did not occur. The exact opposite reaction occurred. It was Reel Redhouse who seemed to be inspired by the fact that they had gone a goal down. It was becoming quite clear to the under dogs, that Toddy’s were having an off day and that they were there for the taking. It was this belief that led to Reel Redhouse equalising, which has to be said was fully deserved. Michael Wilkinson found himself completely unmarked, and played the ball into an open net. Toddy’s were rattled. Middlemiss and Middleton were failing to come to grips with what was required from them as midfielders. This uncertainty was leading to gaping holes appearing in the centre of the park, through Middleton and Middlemiss either charging forward into attack, or dropping far to deep in defence, thus leaving the Redhouse midfielders the freedom of the park.
The first 45 minutes was probably the quietest Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson has had for Toddy’s so far this season. This was of no fault of his. With Toddy’s losing the vital control in the centre of the park, the ammunition to Jackson and Gordon Robson on the right wing was starved. This caused a role on effect. With the wingers starved, both John Hunt and Stephen Wilson were virtually feeding off scraps up front. Reel Redhouse had two golden opportunities to grab back the initiative, but luckily for Toddy’s both shots rebounded back of the crossbar. The half time whistle went, with the scores all square at 1 – 1.
Following the half time lambasting by manager William Harper, Toddy’s came out with a renewed vigour. Along with this reinforced vigour came the goal that took Toddy’s back into the lead, a well-worked strike by Stephen Wilson. The goal did settle Toddy’s. Confidence started to seep back into the players. The midfield started to get to grips with the game, subsequently bringing the wingers into the contest. Once Jackson and Robson started to run at their opponents and look as though they had the beating of them, Reel Redhouse were forced onto a back foot. It looked as though it would be only a matter of time before the home team added a third. They did, again through Wilson, 3 – 1. Game over? It should have been, but a mistake at the back from Toddy’s let Reel Redhouse back again to close the deficit to just 1 goal. Again Toddy’s started to look a little nervy. Reel Redhouse seemed to pick up on this and yet again grabbed the initiative from their much-vaunted opponents. Stephen Jackson brought huge belief to the Toddy’s touchline when he fired in a goal direct from his own corner kick. Surly Toddy’s were going to go on from this and finish off their quarry once and for all. Dean Wardle was caught hanging onto the ball in the penalty box by Dale Usher, Usher went down rather dramatically as Wardle tried to retrieve the ball, the referee adjudged foul play, and awarded a penalty kick, which Usher converted in perfect style. 4 – 3. Who knew how this game was going to end. It felt as though this was the Toddy’s of last season. Excellent in attack but extremely dubious in defence. Reel Redhouse created good chances to level the game, a brilliant save by Davison when he faced a one on one with his opponent was the kick up the back side that Toddy’s required. From here on in Toddy’s dominated. Lee Tait was brought on to replace Joe Middleton, while Christian Baines came on to replace Neil Middlemiss, Gavin Wilson was took of in order for Patrick Walsh to make his long awaited return from suspension. Further goals by Wilson to grab his hat trick, and a wonder strike from Ryan McNaught took the game well beyond a brave Reel Redhouse. The final whistle went to the relief of all concerned with Toddys.co.uk. The score of 6 – 3 in favour to the home side was a little unfair to Reel Redhouse who contributed magnificently to the game.
Christian Baines summed up perfectly Toddy’s performance against Reel Redhouse. He said, “Toddy’s did not give Reel Redhouse any respect, and walked onto the pitch thinking 3 points were there for the taking”. It was a perfect analysis of the home sides performance. Along with that analysis, it would be fair also to criticise the management. There is absolutely no need to play players out of position. The experiment of Joe Middleton and Neil Middlemiss in midfield clearly did not work. Dean Wardle as centre half for whatever reasons should not happen again. Toddys.co.uk got away with it against Reel Redhouse, but with the return of John Young, Gary Jackson, Patrick Walsh, and Lee Tait to the side, the team should resort back to the style that saw them storm into top spot over the first 7 games. With big clashes against reigning champions The Club coming up in the league and Roseberry Leisure in the second round of the Arjan Sangha Cup in the next few weeks, the Toddy’s team will thankfully be back at full strength.
|The following is a duplicate of the letter being sent to the Committee. The actual letter is available as a download in PDF format. Simply click on to the icon shown.|
This letter has been sent to the following recipients:
Mr. Jack Brown
Mr. Brian Taylor
Mr. Alan Young
Mrs. Debbie Scott
Mr. John Topping
It is also viewable on the web site www.toddys.co.uk
To whom it may concern.
The following is an account of the events that took place prior to what should have been the league match between Low Fell and Toddy’s F.C 3rd November 2001. The game was to have been played at Kibblesworth, which is the home ground of Low Fell.
It had been decided between both parties that if possible, the game should be brought forward in order that all concerned would be able to get back for the live Sky game between Leicester and Sunderland.
We (Toddy’s) arrived at the Kibblesworth venue at approximately 9.45am. I (Tarnjit Sangha) was the last to arrive of the convoy of 7 cars. As I got out of the car, I observed the following: around 9 Low Fell players milling around the football pitch which was approx 120 yards away from the car park and changing room facilities. Low Fell manager Debbie Scott standing next to who subsequently turned out to be the replacement referee Kevin Dunwoody (the actual appointed official was unable to attend). A group of Toddy’s supporters of whom 2 were drinking standing in the car park. My team were already in the changing rooms awaiting my arrival.
As soon as Debbie saw me, she came over and told me Mr Dunwoody was abandoning the game. I assumed the decision had been made due to the pitch being unplayable. The decision had been made on the basis that 2 lads who had travelled with my team and arrived on their own in a group of four were drinking. I immediately apologised and went into the changing rooms to explain to my co manager William Harper of what was occurring. I then went over to the two lads and told them not to leave the car park and venture over to the pitch side, to which they agreed. As far as I was concerned, the matter had now been dealt with. To my team’s amazement, and mine it had not. Mr Dunwoody had decided it was too risky to play the game, and that if he did, according to him DFA rules stipulated, he was in danger of never refereeing again. His exact words were “I am not allowed to referee this game if there is any alcohol within the vicinity of the football ground, it doesn’t matter who the two concerned are with, they could be anyone”. I would like to add at this point for the record, Debbie Scott concurred with everything Mr Dunwoody said, and was happy to see the game abandoned. Mr Dunwoody based this decision entirely upon a letter he claimed he received from Durham F.A (which is strange since Mrs Scott told me in a later conversation that he was affiliated with NFA) that very morning stating that this was a completely valid decision, and he was only complying with the set down rules. It was clear that this game was not going to be played. Before things got really heated I along with William Harper got our team changed and decided to leave.
What you have read is a brief over view of what occurred. What you are now about to hear is what happened following the incident.
As soon as we left the Kibblesworth ground, we decided we might as well take in another game. It was agreed that we would watch the match between Federal Mogul and Roseberry Leisure in the John Lockey Memorial Cup. The game was being played at the Community North Complex at Downhill. As I got there, I noted around eight of the Toddy’s supporters who had obviously decided to watch the same game, standing on the touchline, each with a can of Carling Black Label in their hands. I observed the Referee on the pitch which was Tony Dodds, I observed Brian Taylor the manager of Roseberry Leisure on the other side of the pitch, and I then observed Mr Ridley manager of Federal Mogul come over to the Lads and ask them to step back off the touchline which they did. Nothing more was said or done and the game went on as normal, with eight or more lads calmly drinking away just 3 feet away from the pitch. I always carry a Digital Camera with me for the purposes of our Toddy’s website. I took three shots of this incident. Please explain to me the following –
My team had its game abandoned just 45 minutes prior to the Federal Mogul v Roseberry Leisure match for a couple of lads drinking in a car park which is situated at least 100 yards away from the football pitch. Even after I promised these people would not enter the playing area. Why then did Brian Taylor of Roseberry Leisure not implement this very rule that according to Debbie Scott was verified by George Broadbent at the last league meeting? In the game between his team and Federal Mogul. Why have Federal Mogul not been brought into disrepute?
I have spoken to 7 referees on the phone since the incident, including Mr Ian Gunn. Each and everyone of them has told me they know nothing about any letter that has been sent out to them or any other official regarding any DFA ruling on Alcohol drinking near a football pitch. All the referees I spoke to said the action Mr Dunwoody took was the first of its kind in their entire experience as referees. They all concurred that as long as the drinkers did not enter the field of play, they were entirely happy with the situation. I demand that Debbie Scott provide this ‘so called’ letter that Mr Dunwoody went to such pains to use in abandoning our game. If it is required I can vouch that 3 of the referees will back me up in writing or in person regarding this matter. I say to you that Mr Dunwoody lied about this letter, a letter that he vehemently claimed he had, and used this letter to call the game off. I will expect to see a full referees report on the incident.
Debbie Scott said to me that the league has set a rule stating that any alcohol seen in the vicinity of a team ground constitutes complete legality in a referee abandoning a game. I would like to know when this particular rule was set and why have I not got such a rule in writing before me?
This letter has been sent to all members of the Dunsford Business Supplies League committee, plus John Topping of DFA, and I will also be sending a similar letter to Lancaster Gate to see if what happened was correct. I expect each and every one of the questions I have asked to be answered. As far as I am concerned, the Committee has set a precedent that they have absolutely no chance of maintaining. I find it incredible that a referee can abandon a game before either side has even been kitted up, never mind entered the field of play. I find it even more incredible that an individual such as Debbie Scott who is on the committee can stand there and say this rule is correct and the referee is within his rights. How do the committee feel my team must feel when within 45 minutes of our game being abandoned, an incident involving Roseberry Leisure and Federal Mogul of exactly a similar nature, which also had a Committee member present can go completely unnoticed. Are the Committee running a ‘double standards’ policy? I would like it to be noted that I shall be bringing a charge of disrepute upon Federal Mogul, which shall be sent in writing to the league secretary. I feel it is now necessary for me to have a Toddy’s representative present at all future games involving teams in the Dunsford Business Supplies League to see if there are other ‘incidents’ going ‘unnoticed’.
You may have felt this letter to have been of a confrontational nature, and I apologise if you feel I am being rather aggressive in the nature of my correspondence. In my entire 16 years of playing, running and sponsoring football, I have never felt so badly dealt with by a committee who seem to be setting rules without any thought of how to implement them. What is stopping me from entering a field of play every week with a can of beer in my hand. According to the committee, if I do this, the match official will have to abandon the game without giving the home team secretary any chance of resolving the situation. Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds. Yet this is what happened to my team against Low Fell, with the full backing of the committee.
I expect an answer from the committee to what they intend to do about this entire sorry affair as soon as possible so as I can then decide to what I shall do.
Dunsford Business Supplies Tyne & Wear League
Game abandoned under extraordinary conditions.
The game between Low Fell and Toddy’s was abandoned by referee Kevin Dunwoody due to two spectators with alcohol. Toddy’s Management were not given the opportunity to instruct the two in question to stay off the field because the Referee had made the decision.
This was done long before any ball had been kicked. The Toddy’s players and Low Fell players were not even kitted up. It’s strongly suspected that Low Fell had only 10 players and that the Referee (who was not on the list) was “persuaded” to pick up on any point to abandon the game. It was also obvious that the Referee had just finished night shift and wasn’t interested in “running about” for 2 hours.
This decision, according to the referee, was a Durham rule enforced by a letter he had received in the morning. A letter which doesn’t exist – i.e. no other referee has received it.
This has set a precedent. Any game played on Saturday morning now has to be cancelled if anyone approaches the field with alcohol. They are not allowed to be moved on or told to leave the football area, but simply the game has to be cancelled. It doesn’t matter if the person involved has nothing to do with the teams.
So it’s wise for pitches near off licences to set up screens in case they’re abandoned. Also pubs next to pitches could lead the game to being abandoned.
It’s highly probable that Toddy’s will be withdrawing from the League due to being unable to comply with this new “unwritten” rule. But then again, maybe it’s only to Toddy’s themselves that this rule applies to.
Dunsford Business Supplies Tyne & Wear League
Ghosts of the past.
Individual errors mar an otherwise excellent performance.
Gordon Robson ready to cross the ball watched by 4 Roseberry players.
Roseberry Leisure 3 Toddys.co.uk 2
Stephen Jackson, Stephen Wilson
Darren Lewis, Gary Jackson, Gavin Wilson, John Young, Ryan McNaught, Joe Middleton, Stephen Jackson, Neil Middlemiss (Gary Gilby), Stephen Wilson, Gordon Robson (John Hunt)
Man of the Match Stephen Wilson
The biggest game of the season so far was probably played on the worst footballing surface you are likely to see all year. But let this not be an excuse to what was to ensue. The team lined up as follows. Lewis as always in goal, the back four consisted of John Young and Gavin Wilson as centre halves. Ryan McNaught at right back, and making his full debut at left back was Gary Jackson, twin brother of Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson. The midfield quartet lined up with Neil Middlemiss on the right wing and Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson on the left. With both Steven Ridley and Lee Tait missing through suspension, it was left to Dean Wardle and Joe Middleton to provide the engine for the team. Last weeks 7-goal salvo was not enough for John Hunt to make the starting line-up. He had to make way for Gordon Robson and Stephen Wilson.
|Gor Robson and Stephen Wilson
after equalising for the second time
It was clear right from the off, the hazardous state of the pitch was going to play a huge part in the outcome of the game. No one on the Toddy’s side, players or sidelines could quite have imagined how influential it would turn out to be. It was clear Roseberry’s manager Brian Taylor knew of the goal threat that Toddy’s possessed. The home side were out to try and catch Toddy’s on the break, thus fully utilising their chief weapon, the pace of Gary Golightly in attack.
Toddy’s were superb. They played some of the best football I have seen them play all season. The full back pairing of Ryan McNaught and Gary Jackson were not only dominant in a defensive capacity, but as an attacking force were superb, it was especially good to see Gary Jackson link up so well with his brother Stephen on the left. Midfield was excellent. Joe Middleton’s energy was unsurpassed. While Dean Wardle who was not at his best, but still did enough to make the absence of Lee Tait and Steven Ridley not so big a loss. Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson was performing to the level that has now become accustomed for the lad. Neil Middlemiss following a couple of below par performances was back to his best. The attacking duo of Wilson and Robson were a constant threat to the Roseberry Leisure defence throughout the game. So why if everyone was performing so well, did Toddy’s go down to their first defeat of the season. Never has a game been so influenced by particular players committing huge individual errors.
Roseberry Leisure Goal 1
The ball is hopefully lobbed down the left wing. Gary Jackson went in with a slide tackle, which due to the conditions sent him flying past his opponent. The Roseberry Winger fires in a shot from an angle that should have posed little trouble to Lewis in goal. Unfortunately Lewis got his angles all wrong.
Roseberry Leisure Goal 2
Goal kick to Toddy’s. Gavin Wilson decides to call for the ball to be played across his own penalty box, thus building the attack from the back. Lewis passes the ball to Wilson, who immediately turns into trouble, losing the ball to an opposing forward. The striker fires the ball into an open net, as Darren Lewis is left stranded on the dead ball spot.
Roseberry Leisure Goal 3
Gavin Wilson picks the ball up just outside of his own penalty area. Instead of putting his foot through the ball and getting it as far down the field as possible, he decides to take it pass the opposition striker. Again, the conditions of the pitch helped the ball escape him and right into the feet of a Roseberry player. Gavin had no choice but to bring the player down thus giving away a free kick. The kick was taken and as the ball flew toward Darren Lewis, it must have hit an almighty divot in the ground because what should have been a simple ball to hand turned into a goal for Roseberry Leisure.
It was astonishing to watch. Three key individual errors by two players who have been outstanding this season. It was all the more galling because the two goals that Toddy’s scored in-between Roseberry’s three, were of the highest calibre. The first was a wonderful piece of football, which involved the entire right side of the Toddy’s team. The move was superbly finished by ‘Pud’ Jackson to make the score 1 – 1. The second goal was an unstoppable right foot drive by Stephen Wilson, which the keeper had no chance of stopping even though he got his hands to it. Wilson’s goal made the score 2 – 2. To here the referees’ halftime whistle go and Toddy’s come in losing 3 – 2 was unbelievable to say the least.
Second half saw Toddy’s turn the screw to such an extent that the entire half was spent with Roseberry defending with their lives, and Toddy’s throwing everything including the kitchen sink at them. The only time Roseberry looked dangerous was through their keepers amazing kicks, which always seemed to land at the feet of Gary Golightly, who with his skill and pace was more than just a thorn in the side of the away team. Middlemiss was taken off, as his influence seemed to wane a little in the second period. Gary Gilby came on and slotted into the midfield allowing Joe Middleton to slip into the right midfield position. Gordon Robson was taken off to allow John Hunt to come on and not only have the chance of changing the course of the game, but to prove the management were wrong in leaving him out in the first place. Toddy’s launched wave after wave of attack, but the Roseberry defence pulled out all the stops in defying them. Toddys.co.uk were about to go down to their first defeat of the season, a defeat that was of their own entire making. The final whistle went to a huge roar of relief by Roseberry Leisure. They had no gone 2 points clear of Toddy’s and with the luxury of one game in hand. How important would that be come the end of the season. Toddy’s were left feeling and justifiably so of throwing away 3 points in a game they should have comfortably won. Out side of Roseberry’s 3 goals, Toddy’s were by far the best team on the day. It was this factor that really got to the team and the management. But the team have ample chance to redeem themselves. Not only have Toddy’s got the return match against Roseberry in the league, but they will also face them in the second round of the Sangha Cup, and there is more then distinct possibility should things go to form of facing them in the semi finals of the League Cup. It seems the other will decide the destiny of either team.
The saying goes ‘you don’t always get what you deserve in football’. For 85 minutes, the Toddy’s youngsters put Roseberry Leisure through the ‘mincer’. In the second half Roseberry couldn’t even get out of their own half, the pressure was that intense.. Referee Tom Foster even went as far as say during some of the post match comments ‘I conducted my duties from inside the Roseberry half during the entirety of the second period, its where all the action was’. Yet three incidents of complete indecision cost Toddy’s the match. There is no point in going on about what Gavin Wilson and Darren Lewis did. But it is imperative that both players learn from their mistakes, and not let incidents such as what occurred happen again. Both players have done far too much good this season to let what happened put a black mark on the season. If what happened against Roseberry serves to such extent that neither player makes such elementary mistakes for the rest of the season, then the factors for us losing the game will not have been in vain. One of my prime philosophies in football is to always look for a positive out a negative. Take the three errors out, and Toddy’s put on a performance that was probably their finest of the season so far against a team that had won every game they had played in to date this season.
They say it is wise not to make comments in the heat of the moment, or you may regret what you say. The notion also rings true when writing a report on a football match, especially if you are trying to write from an impartial standpoint. I whole-heartedly agree with the idea. If I had wrote this report on the day of the game, I think I would have wrote things I would certainly have regretted in the following days. Toddy’s have only lost one match, in a campaign that has still 20+ games to go. The team has suffered a set back, that is all. Next week against Low Fell, the side gets a chance to redeem itself. The way everyone felt in the changing rooms after this defeat, it will take a brave man to bet against Toddys.co.uk storming back to winning ways.
League Cup 1st Round
Triumphant Toddy’s storm into the Quarters.
Magnificent 15 goal burst blows away Studio 2000.
Relentless onslaught kept Studio on a constant back foot.
SS Studio 2000 1 Toddys.co.uk 15
John Hunt 7, Stephen Jackson 2, Steven Ridley 2, Joe Middleton 2, Neil Middlemiss, Gordon Robson
Darren Lewis, Gary Gilby, Dean Wardle, John Young, Ryan McNaught (Gary Jackson), Joe Middleton, Lee Tait (Ian Palmer), Steven Ridley, Stephen Jackson (Neil Middlemiss), John Hunt, Gordon Robson
Man of the Match John Hunt
|Although Ridley failed to catch the
intruder. It’s suspected that the
Butterman eventually caught up
with our feathered friend which
found it’s way into his Butter Bag.
An absolute footballing master class by Toddys.co.uk helped them through to the last eight of the League Cup. An astonishing display of bewildering football saw them leading 9 – 0 at half time. Three second half substitutions inspired the team to a further 6 goals to leave SS Studio 2000 licking their wounds to the tune of 15 goals to 1.
The team lined up as follows. Lewis kept his position in goal, while the back four consisted of Ryan McNaught and Gary Gilby as full backs, and John Young who was partnered with Dean Wardle of all people as his centre half accomplice, this was due to the fact that Gavin Wilson was unavailable through work and Patrick Walsh was still suspended. The midfield quartet lined up as follows, Joe Middleton on the right wing with Stephen Jackson on the left. Steven Ridley occupied the centre midfield along with Lee Tait. For Ridley this was to be his last game before he starts his lengthy 35-day ban for foul and abusive language against an official. Tait also starts his ban, but for him the wait will only be one week, seemingly two rash challenges are deemed less dangerous then foul language in the heat of the moment. Both incidents occurred in the thrilling 5 – 3 Sangha Cup win over Federal Mogul. The most controversial omission of the day had to be the decision to leave Stephen Wilson on the bench for the entirety of the game. Gordon Robson and John Hunt came in to form the strike force.
If ever there was the embodiment of a one sided game, this was it. From start to finish, Toddy’s dominated affairs to such an extent that Lewis in goal did not have a single save to make. In fact the only goal Studio 2000 scored was of Lewis’ making. He tried to play a silly ball across his own penalty area, which only reached an opposition player, who calmly slotted the ball in. It was only a laughing matter because Toddy’s happened to be 9 – 0 up at the time. It is ironic that with Toddy’s playing so well, it is so difficult to write this report. There were too many instances of excellent football for me to write down, and it would become repetitive. It is probably better for me to pick just the highlights from the match and make reference to some brilliant individual performance within a marvellous team display. John Hunt’s 7 – goal haul was a terrific way for the player to bounce back from what has been a difficult fortnight for the lad. Left on the bench for the entire duration of the fantastic victory over RWC, and to be part of a way under par team performance last week against New Derby. John was superb in his whole attitude to this game. He seemed to be gathering the ball and laying it off with far more success and intelligence then he has all season. This apparent unselfishness bears fruit witness his 7 goals. In fact, the only fault you could level at him was that with a little more composure, he could probably have scored at least another hat trick. If John Hunt grabbed the headlines for goals scored, then surly Gordon Robson must take the honour of best supporting role as assists made. Gordon was at the hub of all the action. He was virtually involved in all the goals. He epitomised what was so good about the whole team. His passing, vision, and all round general play were of the highest calibre. Confidence is the key to Gordon’s game. Give him the confidence, and he will give you the performance. I suppose you can call that a fair deal. Joe Middleton, who was left out for the entire game against New Derby last week came in and showed what Toddy’s missed. A wonderful display of lightning paced wing play, coupled with raw aggression left Studio 2000 with no answer. Middleton has proved in his last two displays, against RWC and Studio 2000, he is a far more effective player when pushed further up the field then when asked to play his previous role as full back. It has also proved that along with Steven Ridley, Joe has shown himself to be the most versatile player in the Toddy’s line up. He can play any role required of him with consummate ease. If you take into consideration the competition for places all over the pitch in the Toddy’s set-up it is not a bad facet to have to your game.
For the umpteenth time this season, the defence excelled yet again. This is made all the more remarkable considering there hasn’t been one occasion when the same back four has played together. It just shows the huge strides Toddy’s have made this season when taking into account how much criticism, fully justified I might add, the defence came under last season. The full complement of Gary Gilby, Liam Dingwall, John Young, Gavin Wilson, Patrick Walsh, and Ryan McNaught have been nothing short of fantastic when called upon to do the job required. Against Studio 2000, a special mention has to be made for Dean Wardle, who as an accomplished midfielder brought a great amount of flair and composure in his role as centre half. Never once in the game did the duo of Dean Wardle and John Young look anything short of magnificent.
With the score at 9 – 0 at the half time interval, it was time to show just how strong a squad Toddy’s have for this season. Lee Tait, Stephen Jackson, and Ryan McNaught were brought off to be replaced by Neil Middlemiss and two seasonal debutants. Gary Jackson, twin brother of Stephen came on and made his long awaited show at right back, while Ian Palmer, came on to great approval from the sidelines to take his place in the centre of midfield. Palmer, who was formerly seen and played as a central defender, now had his opportunity to show why he preferred to play in the centre of the park; to his credit he did no harm in enhancing his reputation for the coveted role. Gary Jackson, of whom great things are expected slotted straight into his role as full back and showed just why he is so highly rated. As a full back, the management fully expect him to make as big an impact as Ryan McNaught has done this season. This is amazing, since Jackson’s favoured role is that of midfielder. You never know, he may get to play that role as well. Toddy’s went on to score another 6 goals in the second half to add to the 9-goal haul in the first. The only blemish was a temporary moment of insanity by Lewis in goal, which led to Studio 2000’s only goal. But after his brilliant displays this season when called upon, we can surly forgive him for his eccentricities. After an extraordinary 90 minutes of wonderful football, the final whistle blew and saw Toddy’s storm into the last eight of the League Cup with the score Studio 2000 1 Toddys.co.uk 15.
Putting the result to one side, what this game proved to everyone was just how powerful a squad Toddy’s have assembled this season. To have the audacity to play without the likes of Gavin Wilson, Patrick Walsh, Liam Dingwall, Stephen Wilson. Neil Middlemiss. And then to be able to bring off players like Lee Tait, Ryan McNaught, Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson, and still go on to win a game 15 – 0 is awesome.
Everything is now in place for the team to have a serious tilt at the Championship. Providing the squad keep their feet firmly on the ground and the management keep making the right decisions on the team selection front, Toddy’s will surly be in there right at the end of the season.
Next week sees the biggest game of the campaign so far. Toddy’s face their most difficult game yet as they take on the only team with a 100% record, Roseberry Leisure. With back to back victories against reigning champions The Club already under their belt, Roseberry Leisure have just as much claim to being title contenders as Toddy’s do. It is absolutely imperative that Toddy’s go to the King Georges ground and come away with all three points. Roseberry have a game in hand, so a victory over them will take Toddy’s four points clear at the top of the table, even though Roseberry will still have that one game in hand. A crucial pointer to the game could be the fact that Toddy’s go into the game without the services of both captain Steven Ridley and Lee Tait. To lose your entire midfield would be a major blow to any team. But the management remain confident they have the players that can come in and do as good a job as both Ridley and Tait no doubt would have done. All that remains now is for Saturday to arrive. Lets all hope Toddys.co.uk can reach the heights they did when brushing aside RWC. If they can, Roseberry Leisure may find themselves lying in the wake of the Toddy’s bandwagon. Lets hope so.
League Cup Quarter Final line up
Roseberry Leisure v Silksworth Catholic Club
New Derby vToddys.co.uk
Shiney Row/Hollymere v The Club
Redhouse WMC v Federal Mogul
Ties to be played on 15th December
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A 1-1 draw brings back memories of the “old” Toddy’s.
Wilson in the thick of things in a very below par performance.
Toddy’s 1 New Derby 1
Darren Lewis, Gary Gilby (Christian Baines), John Young, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Stephen Jackson, Neil Middlemiss, Dean Wardle (Steven Ridley), Lee Tait, Stephen Wilson, John Hunt (Gordon Robson).
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
|Middlemiss, for some reason, was
asked to play right back for the last
few minutes of the game.
As former Toddy’s captain Gary Jackson so eloquently put it in summing up following the teams performance, a case of ‘ after the Lord Mayors show’. The statement being a reference too the fabulous result against RWC last week. For the first time this season, Toddy’s were prevented from winning a football match. New Derby headed into this encounter with a game plan. It was obvious right from the off, they came here to achieve a ‘snatch and grab’. Full congratulations must be given to them for achieving it. If it had not been for Christian Baines being in the right place at the right time to slot home an equaliser, New Derby may have pulled off the shock of the season so far and walked away with all 3 points. As it is, I am quite sure they will be rather happy with the share of the spoils.
As has been the case on nearly all occasions this season, the management decided to rotate the squad. Darren Lewis kept his position in goal, as did John Young and Gavin Wilson as centre halves. Ryan McNaught kept his role at left back, while an injury to Liam Dingwall meant Gary Gilby came straight into fill the right back slot. Neil Middlemiss started on the right wing, as did Stephen Jackson on the left. Lee Tait and Dean Wardle completed the midfield quartet, which meant rather controversially team captain Steven Ridley was left on the bench. The other talking point was the omission of Gordon Robson from the attacking line up after his heroics last week against RWC. John Hunt, who didn’t take part at all last week, was brought in, in his place to partner Stephen Wilson in attack.
|Late goalmouth scrambles finally
led to a goal from Christian Baines.
Not being one to mince my words, the first 45 minutes was without doubt the worse Toddy’s have played all season. New Derby were superior in just about all departments. The home side couldn’t conjure up any decent type of offensive play, while New Derby looked compact, concise, and fully capable of nullifying anything Toddy’s had to throw at them, which to be precise was not much. The problem for Toddy’s was not at the back. The rearguard of Gilby, Young, Wilson and McNaught, though not at their best, rarely looked like it was going to be breached. However, Gilby did look a little shaky, and whatever raid New Derby made into Toddy’s half did seem to come down the right side. No, the problem was further up field, and in particular from an attacking point of view. Before today’s game, Toddy’s had scored an amazing 39 goals in just 6 league games. If anyone was coming to see the team play for the first time this season today, they would have been forgiven into thinking the statistics must be incorrect. Toddy’s, as an attacking force seemed totally inept and devoid of ideas. Middlemiss on the right was having his least effective game of the season. His strength is without doubt taking on an opponent and beating him for pace. He is the type of player that has the ability to wear down his opponent by the simple fact of his superb fitness. Very rarely did Middlemiss attempt this against New Derby. He seemed rather hesitant, and was constantly looking for the early ball into the box. It seemed as if he did not have the confidence to take on his quarry. The feeling was clearly echoed by the Toddy’s touchline. The early ball may have paid dividends, but here lay the second big problem. John Hunt and Stephen Wilson as an attacking duo completely failed to fire on any type of cylinders. This may seem harsh, especially when looking at their goal scoring exploits so far this campaign. But I’m sorry. Toddy’s have set particular standards this season, high standards. These standards have made other teams look up and take note. New Derby were clearly such a team. For Toddy’s to go a whole 45 minutes without making an opposition goalkeeper make any type of serious save is just not good enough. Toddy’s must realise they are going to come up against this type of heavy resistance week in week out. They must accept that teams are going to set out their agendas to stifle the Toddy’s front line and cancel out the wingers. It is up to Toddy’s to have the guile and expertise to break down such resilience. On the evidence of the first 45 minutes, they may well have a problem in countering this defiance. In midfield, the absence of Steven Ridley was clearly being felt. The fulcrum of Dean Wardle and Lee Tait never really got to grips with their counterparts. The dominance that is required by the Toddy’s midfield for the rest of the team to click failed to materialise. As the half wore on, you could clearly see the New Derby growing in confidence. This growth in their belief coincided with more frequent forays into the Toddy’s half. For once, it was not Toddy’s who looked like they would open the scoring. The only shining light in terms of performances was that of Stephen Jackson. His skill and pace was proving too much for the opposition. His link up with Ryan McNaught down the left flank was looking increasingly like the only avenue from where a goal scoring opportunity might have appeared for the home side. But it is far too much to ask a 17 year old to shoulder the responsibility to get a team going. Toddy’s have such talent in abundance amongst their ranks that a youngster on the left wing should never be their only threat. But to listen to the New Derby players on the pitch, you would think Jackson was the only threat. It was to such extent that the rest of the team was underachieving. It came as no surprise when New Derby took the lead. It was their best move of the half that led their goal. New Derby took a lead they fully deserved. The half time whistle went to the relief of the Toddy’s management. New Derby were clearly on top at the interval.
The writing was on the wall. If Toddy’s wanted to take anything from the game, it would take a 100% about turn in terms of attitude and application. To be fair to the team, for the first 5 minutes of the second half, that is exactly what they gave. Two marauding runs by Stephen Jackson both resulted in pinpoint crosses that went right through the heart of the New Derby defence. All they needed was a slight touch on both occasions and Toddy’s would have completely turned the game around. Neil Middlemiss had a wonderful opportunity, but was let down by a bad first touch which took the ball away from him. To his credit, he still managed to get the shot in, but the keeper parried it away for a corner. This rearguard action was clearly taking its toll on New Derby. Players were dropping like flies through cramp and other minor injuries. It got so bad that even when all their substitutions were made, they had to go to 10 men when their goal scorer went off injured. Surely Toddy’s could claw back the deficit against an increasingly tired looking New Derby side that had now been reduced to 10 men. The initial onslaught subsided, but the format of the second half had been set. Toddy’s would throw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents, while New Derby would attempt to defend in numbers and launch the occasional counter attack. The half wore on but New Derby refused to cave in. the management made a last gasp effort and made a triple substitution. Off came John Hunt, Dean Wardle, and Gary Gilby. In their place came on Christian Baines, Steven Ridley, and Gordon Robson. Ridley took residence in the centre of the park, while Robson went straight into attack. Baines took the right side of midfield, while Neil Middlemiss somewhat strangely vacated his position on the right wing and went to right back.
When you come up against a team like New Derby, who set out their stall to defend with their lives, it is vital you put away any chance that comes your way. I guarantee the team that lifts the championship come the end of the season will be such a team who have the ability to take these chances. Stephen Wilson had 3 guilt edge opportunities that a player of his calibre should have put away with comparative ease. He spurned all of them. This is a worrying trait for the management. From the amount of chances Toddy’s create during a game, it is amazing to think their tally of 39 goals is actually not a fair reflection on their general play. The non-ability to kill off difficult opposition when the team is on top is something that could come back and haunt Toddy’s when the dust settles on this seasons campaign. The omens were not looking good for Toddy’s. After a good positive start to the second half, it seemed the team was running out of ideas. When the goal eventually came, it was no surprise to see that it originated from another cross sent in via the left foot of Jackson. It caused a furious scramble in the New Derby box, but Baines was the quickest to latch on to the loose ball, which he fired past a despairing New Derby goalkeeper to level the scores. Incessant attack had finally overcome dogged defending. The scores were level with just 12 minutes to go. Could Toddy’s find a winning goal, or would New Derby hang on. As an attacking force New Derby were done for. The last 12 minutes would either result in a Toddy’s win or a valuable draw for the New Derby. What was expected was a last gasp onslaught by the league leaders, what we got was a game that petered out disappointingly. The final whistle went to a huge sigh of disbelief. Toddy’s amazing 7 match winning run had been brought a halt. New Derby fully deserved their point; while Toddy’s could be left thinking a huge opportunity to extend their lead at the top had been missed.
I could be accused of being over critical on the team. In reality, the accusation would be quite fair. To start the season off with 9 consecutive victories in all competitions is a magnificent achievement for any team. But where I believe the accusation to be fair is if a team sets its stall out to be crowned champions. If Toddy’s aim for the season was to finish in the top three, I would not aim this level of criticism at them. But if you have eyes on the Title, this performance when compared with all previous displays is simply not good enough. There were far too many players on the pitch against New Derby who looked as though it was just a formality to pick up 3 points. Almost a case of waltzing around the park for 90 minutes. For nigh on the entire team, bar a few, to perform so under par is a little disturbing. Next week we have the first round of the League Cup away to SS Studio 2000. The game will prove a useful exercise to try and get things sorted out. Sorted out, they will have to be. The following week Toddys.co.uk go into the top of the table clash with Roseberry Leisure, who now remain the only team with a 100% record in the league. Performances like that of against New Derby, and I’m pretty sure Roseberry Leisure will remain the only unbeaten team in league
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Redhouse WMC 1 Toddy’s 4.
Toddy’s pull out all the stops in a remarkable performance.
Celebrations for the opening goal from Lee Tait.
Redhouse WMC 1 Toddy’s 4
Stephen Wilson 2, Lee Tait 2
Darren Lewis, Gavin Wilson, John Young, Liam Dingwall (Gary Gilby), Ryan McNaught, Joe Middleton (Stephen Jackson), Lee Tait, Dean Wardle (Neil Middlemiss), Steven Ridley, Gordon Robson, Stephen Wilson.
Man of the Match Ryan McNaught
|Lee Tait, again, in the midst of all
A stunning performance from Toddy’s saw them crush their fiercest rivals Redhouse WMC by 4 goals to 1. It was a result that saw them go 9 points clear of their opponents even though Redhouse WMC have a game in hand. A significant chapter in the title race? Could be.
The team selection for Toddy’s was enough to raise a few questioning eyebrows. No Neil Middlemiss, no Stephen Jackson, and no John Hunt. Arguably three of the most influential players in the Toddy’s line up so far this season. Instead, it was decided that Joe Middleton would take up residence on the left wing, while Steven Ridley would occupy the right side of midfield. Dean Wardle and Lee Tait were given the task of marshalling the vital areas in midfield. Darren Lewis was as always in goal. John Young and Gavin Wilson paired up for central defensive duties while they were flanked by Liam Dingwall on the left and Ryan McNaught on the right. In the absence of John Hunt, Stephen Wilson and Gordon Robson were both given the duty of breaching the RWC’s renowned defence. Controversial. We were about to find out.
RWC came out of the starting blocks as if they wanted to crush Toddy’s. Immediately from the start they launched a determined attack, which breached the right side of the Toddy’s defence. If it wasn’t for a superb reaction save from Darren Lewis, RWC could have been one up after just 2 minutes. Toddy’s were clearly feeling the tension of the occasion. You couldn’t blame them. The crowd size had swelled to at least 200, flanking both sides of the touchline. Again RWC launched yet another attack, this time following a slip by Steven Ridley. A last gasp challenge by Ryan McNaught prevented what could have been a costly mistake. Surly it was too early to contemplate the management had made errors in team selection.
|Lee Tait’s celebration after an
extraordinary free kick goal.
What was needed was a competent piece of football from Toddy’s to settle their nerves. That is exactly what was needed and that is exactly what happened. A timely interception in defence by John Young led to a razor sharp counter attack down the right flank, involving Ryan McNaught, Steven Ridley, and finally to Stephen Wilson who fired in a cross which Gordon Robson met on the volley, the ensuing shot just flew a foot the wrong side of the cross bar. Toddy’s were now in business. From here on in, Toddys.co.uk treated us to a footballing exhibition.
The football was superb. Lee Tait and Dean Wardle were running the midfield with an almost arrogant demeanour. John Young and Gavin Wilson were proving to be more than a match for the much vaunted RWC frontline of Barry Philliskirk and Stuart Pinder. But crucially, Joe Middleton and Steven Ridley were not only imposing their football upon the brilliant RWC fullback pairing of Mark Blakey and Lee Chape, but were out muscling them. It was this latter reason that prevented the management from playing Neil Middlemiss and Stephen Jackson from the start. From a footballing point of view, the two youngsters are unsurpassed, but the physical side of their game has yet to develop. It was feared, the opening 15 – 20 minutes of the game would consist of some tough tackling, some which would be of a wincing nature. The youngsters would not cope. However, this doesn’t seem apply to Ryan McNaught, who when it comes to challenges, sometimes forgets he is yet to turn 17 and is not supposed to be tackling with the ferocity he does. The word ‘scary’ comes to mind. Joe Middleton and Steven Ridley were giving the RWC fullbacks a torrid 45 minutes.
|Wilson celebrates an impressive
The team had settled. They were beginning to get comfortable on the huge Shipwrights pitch. More importantly, after an uncomfortable opening 5 minutes, the team looked as though they were beginning to enjoy themselves. Within another 10 minutes, their enjoyment reached ecstasy. Lee Tait picked the ball up in midfield and was given acres of space to line up a long drive. He hit the ball, which took a slight deflection off David Walker; it was enough to wrong foot the RWC keeper who could do nothing to stop the shot landing in the back of the net. This was all Toddy’s needed to start expressing themselves on the football pitch. Wave after wave of Toddy’s attacks had the RWC on a constant back foot. Surely it was only a matter of time before Toddy’s would grab the second goal, a goal they would so richly deserve. Toddy’s got it. A brilliant low drive by Stephen Wilson from just inside the penalty area, saw the ball settle in the bottom right hand section of the net. 2 – 0. Could the game be over already, with half time just around the corner?
The whistle went to the accompaniment of a huge roar from the supporters. So far so good. 2 – 0 up on the closest of rivals. Now for the next part of the plan. Changes were made for the second half. Joe Middleton was brought off and replaced by Stephen Jackson on the left wing. Dean Wardle was brought off and replaced by Neil Middlemiss who went straight to his natural position on the right wing. Steven Ridley went into midfield vacating the right side. Immediately from the kick off, Stephen Jackson ran at the RWC defenders, immediately causing havoc with his electric pace. The format of the second half was set. A tired looking RWC rearguard would now have the nightmare scenario of having to cope with four of the fastest things in the Dunsford’s League. Neil Middlemiss and Stephen Jackson on the wings, with Stephen Wilson and Gordon Robson in attack. As an attacking force, RWC were now completely spent. The occasional foray by their centre forwards was met with almost contempt by the Toddy’s back four. With just 10 minutes of the second half gone, Stephen Jackson picked the ball up in his own half and went on a mazy run which saw him take on and leave in his wake the entire RWC midfield. A last ditch challenge by Mark Blakey brought him down just outside the penalty area. The referee had no option but to produce the red card. RWC were now down to 10 men. Lee Tait stepped up to take the free kick. He capped of a marvellous performance by firing in an unstoppable drive, which nestled in the top corner of the net. 3 – 0. Nobody could have expected such an emphatic score line, along with such a domineering performance. A slight mix up in the Toddy’s defence between Gavin Wilson and John Young let Stuart Pinder slot home a simple header, but this was just a blip on the days work. Liam Dingwall picked up a knock to his ankle and was replaced by Gary Gilby, who is rapidly becoming along with Steven Ridley, the most versatile player in the Toddy’s side. The RWC were totally overwhelmed. The speed and precision of the Toddy’s attacks were almost of a surgical nature. Neil Middlemiss and Stephen Wilson were linking up wonderfully on the right, while Stephen Jackson was giving the RWC palpitations. Tait and Ridley were almost conductors orchestrating a Toddy’s side that was playing sweet music. Wilson fired in his second of the day and Toddy’s fourth to make it 4 – 1 and cap off a thoroughly miserable day for RWC. It would be no injustice to say Toddy’s should have scored at least 9 or 10 goals.
The final whistle went. The crowd roared their approval. This was a huge step for Toddy’s in their quest to be crowned champions. RWC were to be the acid test for the leaders. Even though the game turned out to be a one sided affair, nothing should be taken away in terms of the quality of the opposition. RWC are a team that will certainly be there at the end of the season, you can be sure of that. Not for the first time this season, Toddy’s were asked a question. Not for the first time this season, Toddy’s came up with the right answer. Everyone who took part in the game can see themselves as having played a huge part in their team’s effort. Those who did not take part can be assured, once the dust settles on this seasons campaign, each and every individual who wears a red & white shirt will have felt they have contributed to what is turning out to be a very special season. Next week, Toddy’s come up against New Derby who are having a topsy turvy season. The form book says Toddy’s will win with ease. If the team are to achieve anything this season, they must approach this game in the exact manner and frame of mind they approached the RWC. Anything less and Toddy’s could find themselves being brought down to earth in the most unpleasant of bumps.
Arjan Sangha Cup, 1st Round
3-1 down, two men sent off…the result is a 5-3 win in extra time.
Patrick Walsh challenges for the ball in Toddy’s most difficult game to date.
Federal Mogul 3 Toddy’s 5 after extra time (3-3 normal time)
Stephen Wilson 2, John Hunt, Stephen Jackson, Ryan McNaught
Darren Lewis, Patrick Walsh (Gary Gilby), Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Neil Middlemiss, Lee Tait (sent off), Steven Ridley (sent off), Stephen Jackson, John Hunt (Dean Wardle), Gordon Robson (Stephen Wilson).
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
Federal Mogul as first round opponents in the Arjan Sangha Cup was expected by many in the Toddy’s camp to be the sternest test for the team so far this season. Following 120 minutes of intense football that is exactly how it turned out to be.
|Lee Tait, on the ball, weighing up
The team lined up as follows. Darren Lewis ever present in goal. The fullback positions were occupied by Ryan McNaught on the left and Joe Middleton at right back. The presence of Middleton meant Liam Dingwall was left out for the first time this season. Lee Tait and Steven Ridley, the unfortunate Dean Wardle being left on the bench occupied centre midfield. Neil Middlemiss took up residence on the right wing, while Stephen Jackson continued on the left. In attack, it was decided to start with John Hunt and Gordon Robson. Due to particular circumstances, Stephen Wilson was left on the bench. For the first twenty minutes, Toddy’s as a team were completely unrecognisable from the team that had swept all before them so far this season. The passing was erratic, the movement was non-existent, and Federal Mogul were first to every challenge and second ball that resulted from the challenge. Patrick Walsh at the heart of the defence was probably having his least effective game for a very long time. He seemed to be having a problem in determining his positional sense. This apparent unease was clearly rubbing of onto the rest of the back four as they looked at a loss in how to deal with the Federal Mogul centre forwards and in particular Richard Oliver who proved to be a thorn in Toddy’s side all game. It is not fair to blame just the defence. The midfield, which has been the fulcrum of the Toddy’s revival, could not get a hold of the ball. When they did, the distribution was poor. This whole unease created a roll on effect. The wingers were not seeing enough of the ball to cause damage to the opposition, and in turn the forwards were left feeding of scraps. It was no surprise when Federal Mogul took the lead. It was nothing short of what they deserved. For the first time this season, Toddy’s found themselves behind in a game. The way they had played for the first twenty minutes, it was everything they deserved. The passing had to improve. The long balls had to be cut out. And the defence had to get a great deal more composure about their play. To be fair, it did improve. Jackson on the left wing started to run at the opposition and get to the by line. Once there, he was beginning to send low hard driven balls, which were beginning to give Federal Mogul some problems. The midfield, which had been completely over ran in the first twenty minutes, was now beginning to exert control. It was this renewed vigour that led to Toddy’s equaliser. A brilliant piece of individual invention by John Hunt saw him cleverly lob the Federal keeper and bring Toddy’s right back into the game. Surly the team would now settle and go on from this. The team did settle, but it took another goal right from the kick by Federal Mogul for them to play the way they can. Immediately from the restart, Federal took a 2 – 1 lead. Yet another piece of indecision by the Toddy’s rearguard, saw the opposing centre forward storm through on his own and strike a shot, which took a wicked deflection of Patrick Walsh to totally wrong foot Lewis in the Toddy’s goal. Toddy’s now found themselves behind yet again. Federal Mogul seemed to cash in on the unease running throughout the Toddy’s side. When Toddy’s played ‘football’, they pieced through the Federal rearguard like a hot knife through butter, but their problem was sustaining it. On too many occasion through the first period this happened. The half time whistle couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Toddy’s management.
|No problems, as ever, for Wilson
as he came on and changed the
The second half kicked off with no changes made. However, changes were imminent. The urge to change things was heightened when Federal Mogul went 3 – 1 up just five minutes after the interval. Toddy’s tried in vain to play the off side trap but failed miserably. Lewis in goal was left one on one with the Federal Mogul forward. Their was only one winner. Gordon Robson was taken off to be replaced by Stephen Wilson. It was clear that Robson was still feeling the effects of his toe injury that has dogged him all season. It took Toddy’s the fact of going 3 goals down before they finally set about rectifying the situation. Federal Mogul looked like they were going to set out their stall to sit on the 2-goal advantage. They found to their cost it was the wrong decision. At this point it was decided to take off Patrick Walsh and replace him with Gary Gilby. In the eyes of the management, it was only a matter of time before Patrick would be sent off. The fact that Walsh ran a full 30 yards to involve himself in an incident increased the need to vacate him from the field of play. Gilby’s introduction brought a sense of calm to the defence, a calm that was sorely lacking throughout the morning. Once Toddy’s had halved Federal Mogul’s advantage, Neil Middlemiss and Stephen Jackson finally decided to perform the heroics that have seen them be so influential to toddy’s this season, they began to run at their opponents. This in turn saw midfield at last take a firm hold of the centre ground. The defence seemed to feel conceding 3 goals was as much as they could bear. The format of the game was set. Federal Mogul to defend at all costs, and Toddy’s to throw everything including the kitchen sink at them. The right-sided partnership between Joe Middleton and Neil Middlemiss was causing Federal all sorts of problems. It was from this side that came Toddy’s second goal. A sharp cross from Middlemiss to Wilson, saw Wilson fire in a superb left foot drive that slotted perfectly into the bottom right side of the Federal goal. 3 – 2, there was hope. Toddy’s continued to push forward. Federal were getting tired, they couldn’t even launch counter – attacks to relieve the pressure that was mounting on their defence. It was only a matter of time before they would buckle. And buckle they did. Again, a combination of Joe Middleton and Neil Middlemiss launched a raid down the right wing. It resulted in some superb interplay between Middlemiss and Wilson, which saw Wilson fire in a fabulous bicycle kick to level the tie at 3 – 3. 5 minutes later, the whistle went for full time. Both teams would have to play out another 30 minutes of extra time, the possibility of penalties loomed large on the horizon.
|Joseph Middleton and Gary Gilby
celebrate an extraordinary win.
Who could have predicted the events that were to take place from here on in. a mad 2-minute spell saw Toddy’s reduced to 9 men. First a rash second challenge by Lee Tait saw him dismissed form the field of play. Then a moment of madness by captain Steven Ridley, who should have known better saw him sent off for verbal abuse aimed toward the official. Extra time should have seen Toddy’s finally wear down their opponents who looked physically shattered, but with nine men, surely a penalty shootout was all Toddy’s could hope for. John Hunt was taken off to be replaced by Dean Wardle, who’s job it would be to shore up the now vacant midfield. But incredibly, the fact that Toddy’s were now down to 9 men saw them produce their best football of the match. They still took the game to Federal Mogul. The speed and skill of Toddy’s attack still proved too much for the Federal Mogul defence. A tremendous burst through the middle by left back Ryan McNaught saw him by pass the entire Federal Mogul rearguard and calmly slot the ball into the corner of the opposing net. With 9 men, Toddy’s were 4 – 3 up. And still they wanted more. Wilson should have increased the score when he was left one on one with the keeper, but amazingly put the ball wide. It was then the turn of Stephen Jackson to miss a similar chance, one on one with the keeper. But unlike Wilson, Jackson fully rectified his miss by scoring a superb solo effort that saw him turn the Federal defence inside out before calmly slotting home the ball with wait for it! His right foot. 3 minutes later, the final whistle went. With 9 men, Toddy’s had turned despair into delight.
In the end, the team fully deserved the victory. They had shown a determination and grit, that so far this season had not been needed. Many questioned what the teams response would be if they went a gaol down, a factor that had not occurred at all this season. Well, the fact that Toddy’s went 3 – 1 down and still managed to claw their way back was a credit to the team. Federal Mogul were seen as the toughest opponents Toddy’s had faced so far this term. The results bear witness to that. Next week sees Toddy’s take on not only the Title favourites, but their fiercest rivals Redhouse WMC. As the season has progressed, Toddy’s have been asked particular questions. So far, these questions have been answered. Next week. The exam reaches new heights. We hope Toddys.co.uk will be able to provide the correct answers.
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Despite a worrying few minutes, Toddy’s prevail in the end.
Another first half goalmouth scramble. Total domination resulted in only two goals.
Mountain Daisy 1 Toddy’s 4
Stephen Wilson 2, Stephen Jackson, Steven Ridley
Darren Lewis, Patrick Walsh, Ryan McNaught, Gavin Wilson, Liam Dingwall, Stephen Jackson, Gary Gilby (Christian Baines), Dean Wardle (Lee Tait), Steven Ridley, John Hunt (Neil Middlemiss), Stephen Wilson
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
|John Hunt and Patrick Walsh walk
back in celebration of Wilson’s
Following last weeks stunning 14-goal demolition of Hollymere, it was of little surprise that the same eleven were chosen to start this league encounter with Mountain Daisy. This meant the likes of Neil Middlemiss, Lee Tait, Ian Palmer, Christian Baines, and Joe Middleton had to be content with a place on the bench. The formation remained the same, the familiar 4-4-2. With Gilby and Wardle occupying the centre midfield positions, Ridley was pushed out on the right wing, a role he has played to such brilliance when asked before. Stephen Jackson remained on the left side, while John Hunt and Stephen Wilson lead the charge.
It was clear from the off, that Mountain Daisy had a game plan. They obviously knew a little about Toddy’s and the firepower they possessed. Mountain Daisy made it clear it was their intention to try and knock the young Toddy’s team out of their stride, and prevent them from getting the ball down and playing their natural game. Mountain Daisy are a big side, and a big part of their game relies on their physical strength. But as has been the story on a few occasions this season, teams have found out Toddy’s are a side that can not only match, but also out do a side, if the game generates into a physical affair.
From a footballing point of view, Toddy’s dominated the game; Stephen Jackson and Steven Ridley were causing mayhem down the wings. The contrast between the two was fascinating to watch. Ridley has a robust all action feature to his game, while Jackson is all about speed and the ability to take an opponent to the cleaners. Both players have skill in abundance, but some of the moves Jackson pulls of are a joy to watch. Both players were having a huge influence in the first half. Mountain Daisy had no answer for them. In attack John Hunt and Stephen Wilson were having probably their best performance as a partnership for quite a while. For the first time, they both looked as if they totally understood the others game. This meant they were anticipating what the other was going to do thus giving them the vital yard needed when in attack. With the movement of the front two coupled with the raids down the flanks by the wingers, it was inevitable Toddy’s would score. Duly they did, a cross ball fired in by Stephen Jackson was latched upon by Stephen Wilson, who fired in an unstoppable drive. This settled the Toddy’s side down completely. The defence was lapping up anything Mountain Daisy had to throw at them. Walsh and Wilson as centre halves were marshalling their troops magnificently. Gilby looked as comfortable as any midfielder on the park at the heart of the action. He had an excellent Dean Wardle alongside him to make sure he didn’t put a foot wrong. The sheer exuberance emanating from the Toddy’s side meant there was not long to go before the second goal was going to go in. A wonderful solo run by Stephen Jackson saw him ghost past two defenders and fire in a shot that came back of the inside of the post. As it came out, it struck a Mountain Daisy defender, who couldn’t have known much about it. It must have been despairing for the home side to see the ball dribble into the back of the net. 2-0 to Toddy’s. It was looking oh so comfortable for the away side. If it wasn’t for some superb goal keeping by the Mountain Daisy keeper, Toddy’s could have quite easily gone in at the break at least 4 goals to the good. As it was, the halftime whistle went at Mountain Daisy 0, Toddy’s 2.
When the second half kicked off, many thought it was going to be business as usual. Toddy’s to go on and run up a cricket score. John Hunt was took off to be replaced by Neil Middlemiss who immediately took up his preferred residence on the left wing. This meant Ridley was back in his favoured role as a central midfielder. Wilson was left up front as a solo striker, but the emphasis on Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss was to join him as often a possible. However, when the whistle went to commence second half proceedings, for the first time this season Toddy’s looked a little shaky. Mountain Daisy came at them with renewed vigour. The Toddy’s defence was starting to make errors, to be fair the opposing forwards were forcing them into them. Hanging onto the ball for too long, passes that were not reaching their intended targets. And making rushed clearances, when they had more time on the ball. Toddy’s were also playing a risqué offside game. It was this tactic that lead to Mountain Daisy scoring. Ironically, the player was at least 10 yards offside, but the referee allowed the game to go on, and he slotted it passed Darren Lewis who did magnificently just to make it hard for the centre forward. The game was now 2-1. Mountain Daisy had a glimmer of hope. The next 15 minutes were probably the most uncomfortable Toddy’s have had to endure so far this season. Mountain Daisy were having a great deal more possession, and looked more threatening, but to be fair, Lewis in the Toddy’s goal still hadn’t really had a save to make. Dean Wardle was took off and replaced by Lee Tait. Dean had picked up a knock, and was tiring. It was Tait’s job to go in a grab back the strangle hold Mountain Daisy were beginning to maintain in midfield. That is exactly what he did. A couple of wonderful touches and the pace of Neil Middlemiss just to his right was all that was required to gain back the initiative. A raid down the right by Middlemiss which resulted in a dangerous cross was rebounded out by the Mountain Dasiy defence, only for Ridley to fire in a fantastic right foot volley which nearly burst out the back of the Mountain Daisy net. The wind had been blown right out of the Mountain Daisy sail. At 3-1, Toddy’s took full control of the game. Lee Tait was commanding the centre of the park along with Steven Ridley. Middlemiss and Jackson were up to their old tricks and tormenting the opposing fullbacks. The defence had come through their sticky patch, and now looked well assured of themselves. The pendulum was now clearly swinging Toddy’s way. Mountain Daisy were getting tired especially at the back, it was only a matter of time before their defences were breached. The goal that secured the win for Toddy’s was without doubt the best of the afternoon. Jackson picked up the ball on the left and cleverly switched it to Ridley, whose vision picked out Middlemiss on the right with a beautifully weighted pass. Middlemiss skipped pass his marker with ease and sent in a precise low cross to Wilson who had totally alluded the Mountain Daisy defence to slot in his second and Toddy’s fourth of the game. Final score 4 – 1 Toddy’s.
The result leaves Toddy’s with a 100% record in all competitions. Five straight victories in the league, 35 goals scored, just 2 conceded, and a 12 – 1 aggregate win over Hollymere in the John Lockey Memorial Trophy. Next week sees Toddy’s open up their defence of the Arjan Sangha Cup against Federal Mogul, which they won so memorably last season. The following week sees them take on their fiercest rivals Redhouse WMC, who today fell to defeat against reigning Champions The Club. Critics have said Toddy’s have not yet come up against any ‘real’ opposition so far this season. If in two weeks time, Toddy’s still remain top with a 100% record in all competitions, they will have earned the right to be considered serious Title contenders by all.
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14 goals with no reply.
A goal direct from a corner kick by Joe Middleton.
Hollymere 0 Toddy’s 14
Stephen Jackson 4, Stephen Wilson 3, John Hunt 2, Gary Gilby 2, Dean Wardle, Liam Dingwall, Joe Middleton.
Darren Lewis (Gary Davison), Patrick Walsh, Gavin Wilson, Liam Dingwall, Ryan McNaught, Stephen Jackson, Dean Wardle (Joe Middleton), Gary Gilby, Steven Ridley, John Hunt, Stephen Wilson (Gordon Robson).
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
|Over the top celebrations from
Patrick Walsh (top)after a rare
goal from Liam Dingwall (bottom)
The word ‘awesome’ comes to mind, especially if you wanted to sum up Toddy’s performance this afternoon. It would be fair to say, opponents Hollymere would not have looked forward to the game at all, when taking into account the 12 – 1 aggregate victory Toddy’s achieved over them in the John Lockey Cup a week ago.
Toddy’s were without central defender, John Young who sustained a back injury during the midweek victory over Shiney Row; Neil Middlemiss was absent through work commitments. Lee Tait was absent through problems of the alcoholic kind. Otherwise the squad was pretty much as usual.
The flow of the game was determined right from the opening whistle. Toddy’s immediately went on the offensive. They looked like a side that was determined to stay top of the league, thus knowing goal difference may prove to be a crucial factor come end of the season. Hollymere did not know what hit them as Toddy’s with Stephen Jackson in blistering form on the left wing, continuously raided down the flank. In the absence of Neil Middlemiss, Steven Ridley covered the right wing, when many thought Gordon Robson, who knows the position so well may have come straight in. Dean Wardle and surprisingly Gary Gilby occupied the centre midfield positions, which were lacking so much in midweek. It proved to be a well thought out move, especially for Gilby as he had probably the best game he has ever had for Toddy’s. It didn’t take long for Toddy’s to strike. Stephen Wilson blasted in a shot, which took a slight deflection to open his account. It was now time for the flood gates to open. Shot after shot reigned in on the Hollymere goal. By half time, Stephen Wilson had bagged a hat trick, Gary Gilby had scored twice, Dean Wardle had converted a header, while eventual M-o-M Stephen Jackson had grabbed a brace. Even John Hunt had the luxury of missing from the spot kick, disturbingly for him, this was his second miss from the penalty spot this season, having converted just once. Incredibly, the score was 8 – 0 to Toddy’s at the interval.
|Gary Gilby celebrates his second
goal in a brilliant individual
What could you say? It was a stunning 45 minutes from the away side. Stephen Jackson was causing havoc down the left wing. Ryan McNaught, who was switched to left back so he could link up with Jackson, superbly assisted him. The management felt with Steven Ridley playing on the right instead of Neil Middlemiss, McNaught would be able to link up with Jackson far better than he would with Ridley. This was simply because Jackson and Middlemiss play the type of game which allows McNaught to attack more, while Ridley’s game tends to rely less on the attacking side and more on the holding role. The management got it right. The amount of damage caused by Ryan McNaught and Stephen Jackson down the left side of the field to Hollymere was immense.
The second half kicked off with two changes. Gary Davison was brought on to replace Darren Lewis, while hat trick hero Stephen Wilson was brought off for Gordon Robson.
It would have been perfectly understandable if Toddy’s would have let their feet off the gas, any team that finds themselves 8 – 0 up at the break could be forgiven into thinking the match as a contest was over. But Toddy’s started off as if the game was all square at 0 – 0. It was clear the players were in a real mood to run up a record score for the club, which stood at 12 – 2 from last season against Shiney Row. Actually, as a spectacle the game was not as impressive in the second half as it was in the first. Toddy’s were happy just to knock the ball about and try to make the opposition do all the running, only searching for an opening when need arose. It was the sign of a team that was playing with absolute confidence in their ability. Gary Davison in goal had virtually nothing to do but take the odd goal kick. It seemed the game was going to pan out like so many do when one side has such an unassailable lead, but around 10 minutes into the second half, the game sprung into life when yet another raid down the left by Stephen Jackson caused an opening and finally John Hunt managed to get his name on to the score sheet. The biggest cheer of the game came when full back Liam Dingwall made a rare foray into the opposition half down the right side, only to find that he had engineered himself a goal scoring opportunity. Lo and behold, a right foot low drive and the ball was in the back of the net. 10 – 0 to Toddy’s. Hollymere were in despair. Two more goals by Stephen Jackson, one more by John Hunt, and a splendid goal by Joe Middleton, which he fired in directly from his own corner left the final score an astonishing 14 – 0.
It seems that every time this Toddy’s side take to the field, they set new standards upon themselves. The sheer confidence that is running through the team is tangible. Critics have accused Toddy’s of over confidence, that they haven’t played any of the so called ‘top’ sides. But you can only beat what is in front of you. The so called ‘top’ sides will soon get their crack at Toddy’s. And than they will get to see if we are the genuine article or not. What people tend to forget is that Toddys.co.uk did not start the season with any real ambition to be crowned champions at the end of it. We are happy to know that as a team, we are a better unit than we have ever been before. We left those aspirations to some of our more ‘vaunted’ adversaries. Toddys.co.uk do not have the pressure on them that some have to be champions. We are happy to go on as we are knowing the team is getting better and better with every performance. However, that does not mean we do not consider ourselves in the frame for the Title, it only means that if we do fail to achieve the ultimate goal, it will not be the end of the world for us, as it might be for some.
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A bad performance, but another win.
Defence holding firm.
Middlemiss challenges for the ball watched by McNaught.
Toddy’s 3 Shiney Row Oddfellows 0
John Hunt 2, Stephen Wilson
Darren Lewis, John Young (Patrick Walsh), Gavin Wilson, Liam Dingwall, Ryan McNaught, Stephen Jackson, Neil Middlemiss, Lee Tait, Dean Wardle, Gary Gilby (Stephen Wilson), John Hunt.
Man of the Match Liam Dingwall
Well, that makes it five consecutive victories in a row. A record for Toddy’s F.C. But this latest win was by far the least impressive of the season so far. Both William Harper and I had gone to great lengths in discussing the factors that could undermine our ambitions for the season ahead. It was by unanimous agreement; our biggest threat could well be complacency. Last season, we were guilty of underestimating teams. On some occasions we walked onto the field of play thinking all we had to do was just waltz around for 90 minutes and walk away with the 3 points. This attitude cost us a great many matches. Up until this latest game, it was felt maybe the team had learnt its lesson. Following the post match analysis, maybe not.
|Man of the Match: Liam Dingwall|
New signing John Young was making his full team debut. Patrick Walsh was made to give way. The thinking behind this was that Walsh would soon be missing through a 35 day suspension. It was important for the Management to see how the Gavin Wilson, John Young centre half partnership would work. With Steven Ridley and Gordon Robson out through injury, and Stephen Wilson on the bench. It was testament to how far this team had come in that we could leave out the likes of this calibre of player, players could be justified in thinking they were first team regulars. Gary Gilby was given his first start of the season. A justified reward for his endeavours in the previous match against Shiney Row, when he came on as a second half substitute and performed so well.
For the first time this season, Toddy’s did not grab the initiative in the vital midfield battle. I have gone on record as saying ‘to enforce your game upon an opposing team, it is this area of the park you must have under your control’. It is very fair to say, throughout this encounter, Shiney Row had the upper hand when it came to the centre of the park. Both Dean Wardle and Lee Tait were consistently coming out second best against their counter parts. It was clear, Shiney had learnt their lesson from the pasting they took at the hands of the two wingers, Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss just three days earlier. The defenders seemed to be a lot tighter against them, and the youngsters didn’t get nearly the space they found in the corresponding fixture. But when the ‘young guns’ did break free from their ‘shadows’, again they caused real problems for the opposition. For the fifth game running, the most pleasing part of the Toddy’s game was the defence. It is wonderful to see a team that was much maligned last season for its defensive frailties look so good and assured of itself. There is no doubt, the inclusion of young Ryan McNaught, who has been unbelievable this season, the recent acquisition of John Young, who really does look a class act, has made a huge difference. But the way Liam Dingwall, Patrick Walsh and Gavin Wilson have raised their respective games has contributed immensely to the way the back line has worked together. Even though Shiney were winning the midfield battle, it was clear they would have to produce something special to breakdown the Toddy’s rearguard.
The break through for Toddy’s eventually came through the most bizarre of goal keeping errors. The Shiney keeper was clearly trying to waste time by leaving it as long as possible before picking the ball up. Some razor sharp reactions by John Hunt enabled him to run on to the keeper’s hesitation and snatch the ball away and cheekily back heel it into the net. It must have been a devastating blow to Shiney, who up until then had been the better side. It was hoped this would lead to Toddy’s settling down and playing their normal passing game. It was not to be. Still Shiney were keeping the ball and passing it better. The shape of the Toddy’s team looked wrong. Gilby who was playing the holding role just in front of the defence seemed to be more interested in holding and scything down the opposition. We either had our midfielders sitting too deep, or they were too far up field. It was this that was leading to Shiney Row’s dominance in midfield. Toddy’s passing was the worse it has been all season. For the teams attacking players to hurt the opposition, the ball must be played to their feet. Long balls are no good whatsoever. The same has to be said when playing the ball to John Hunt. People automatically look at his height and think high ball. It couldn’t be further from the truth. John’s strength lies at his feet, the sooner his teammates realise the better. So it could be said there was a little irony that Toddy’s second goal came from a well flighted free kick from Gavin Wilson, which John Hunt cushioned brilliantly with his head into the back of the net. It took the score to 2-0, and it seemed the game was safe, even though it was still in the first half. Gary Gilby did himself no favours by getting the inevitable yellow card; it was left to William Harper to take him off after just 20 minutes or so. Gilby looked like a red card waiting to happen. The choice was simple, either take him off, or the referee would send him off. Stephen Wilson was brought on as the replacement making the team revert back to its normal 4 – 4 – 2 formation.
The second half went pretty much the same as the first. Shiney still continued to pass the ball better, but without too much penetration into the heart of the Toddy’s defence. John Young and Gavin Wilson were like rocks, while Liam Dingwall’s and Ryan McNaught’s industry and energy were no match for the opposition forwards. With the inclusion of Wilson in attack, it seemed to give Toddy’s more belief and Shiney certainly more to think about. Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss were starting to wear down the Shiney full backs, thus creating openings down the flanks. It was this opening that lead to Toddy’s third and easily best goal of the game. Stephen Jackson stormed pass his marker, and sent in a superb waist height cross, that Stephen Wilson placed in with the most delicate of volleys. It left the Shiney keeper with no chance at all. Toddy’s were now leading 3-0, and the game as a contest was truly over. Major blow to Toddy’s on the night however, was the back injury to John Young. It was serious enough for him to have to come off. If it is long term, it’ll prove to be a huge set back for the team, especially with Patrick Walsh’s ban due to start. Just to confound things for Toddy’s, Lee Tait got himself booked. The booking came after a spate of rash challenges. It could be said he was fortunate to not possibly get a red.
The final whistle went with the score remaining 3-0. It meant Toddy’s remained top of the DBS League on goal difference from Roseberry Leisure. The team had clearly not played well. The major disappointment of the night was the performance of the midfield. Against stronger opposition, the team would have certainly struggled. The players have to realise that the strength of the team lies in playing the ball to feet at all times. The long ball is something that is and should be alien to the Toddy’s way of playing. From a plus side, the defence was excellent. The entire back four looked comfortable and composed on the ball. I think it would be fair to say Toddy’s F.C will not be conceding 80+ goals this season. I hope I am not tempting fate.
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Title Contenders? Maybe, just maybe.
Toddy’s head the League Table on Goal Difference.
Shiney Row attempt to find a route through the Toddy’s midfield.
Shiney Row 1 Toddy’s 8
Gordon Robson 3, Stephen Jackson 2, John Hunt, Steven Ridley, Lee Tait
Darren Lewis, Patrick Walsh, Gavin Wilson, Ryan McNaught, Liam Dingwall (John Young), Stephen Jackson, Lee Tait (Dean Wardle), Steven Ridley, Neil Middlemiss, John Hunt (Gary Gilby), Gordon Robson.
Man of the Match Gordon Robson
There are influential people in the corridors of power that are beginning to whisper the name Toddys.co.uk alongside reigning champions The Club and Redhouse WMC as potential Title winners this season. It is to such extent, that Toddy’s have come on leaps and bounds since the end of last season. The team arrived for today’s clash with Shiney Row Oddfellows expecting to win. This was not born out of arrogance, but sheer belief in ones ability. Toddy’s have now scored 18 goals in their last three competitive matches and conceded only 1 before today’s encounter. A record like that must bear confidence. With Stephen Wilson still out injured, it was decided to place Gordon Robson in attack to partner John Hunt. Neil Middlemiss returned, but instead of taking up his role on the left wing, a position that has earned him two M-o-M’s this term, he was told to take up the position vacated by Gordon Robson on the right wing. This was to enable Stephen Jackson to remain on the left side, a role he played so well midweek. In midfield, Dean Wardle was relegated to the substitutes bench, as the preferred partnership of Steven Ridley and Lee Tait was employed.
The game started in very blustery conditions. It was clear, that to create any constructive football, it had to played on the ground completely cutting out the long ball. However, similar to Wednesday night against Hollymere, Toddy’s started of a little shakily. Darren Lewis was called upon to make a superb one-handed save after just 3 minutes. It would turn out to be his best, and only real action of the game. Shiney Row played the long ball. Looking at the height advantage, it was a tactic best suited to them. The first 15 minutes were not pretty. Toddy’s couldn’t get a grip of the midfield. It is this central ground that is essential for Toddy’s to gain if they are to be successful in a match. As the game went on, Toddy’s began to settle. Ridley and Tait were starting to exert some authority, thus enabling the team to gradually gain the initiative. It was no surprise to see them go ahead when John Hunt fired in to extend his marvellous goal scoring start to the season. From here on in it was all one-way traffic. Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss were causing all sorts of mayhem down the flanks. Shiney Row had absolutely no answer whatsoever for them. Ridley again was showing a captains performance holding the centre ground, admirably aided by Lee Tait. Defensively, Toddy’s again looked very assured of themselves and were giving little away to the Shiney Row centre forwards. Toddy’s grabbed their second of the game when Lee Tait latched onto a loose ball in the Shiney goalmouth and fired in an unstoppable drive. Halftime 2-0 to Toddy’s.
A couple of major changes were made at the start of the second half. Lee Tait was took off to be replaced by Dean Wardle, while Liam Dingwall was brought off so that new signing John Young could make his debut at centre half. This meant the defence had to be slightly reshuffled. Gavin Wilson vacated the central position and took the left back role. However, although defensively, Toddy’s looked as good as ever, Shiney were starting to get the slight upper hand in the midfield. To counter this, William Harper decided to take off John Hunt and replace him with Gary Gilby. The idea was to shore up the midfield with Gilby, and enable the wingers, Middlemiss and Jackson to not just remain on the flanks, but to join sole striker Gordon Robson in attack. The words ‘tactical wizardry’ come to mind. The whole direction of the game changed. Any slow momentum that Shiney Row built was immediately obliterated as Toddy’s turned on their most impressive performance of the season so far. John Young was marshalling the defence superbly. It could well be that Toddy’s have finally found the authoritarian type figure they have required so badly at the back. Middlemiss and Jackson were now running riot on the wings. Ridley’s engine was beginning to show signs of easing up a little, but was immediately re-ignited by a wonderful display by Dean Wardle. First Ridley fired in yet another goal to continue his excellent run. Then Gordon Robson and Stephen Jackson took over affairs in the goal-scoring department. Robson was benefiting hugely form the width that was being created by Middlemiss and Jackson, to such an extent that he fired in a second half hat trick, which could have been a double hat trick had his luck been in. Stephen Jackson should also have bagged at least three but had to settle for two, as Toddy’s rattled up an 8-1 score line. It is no brag to suggest the score could so easily have been into double figures. A nice sign was to see the sheer disappointment in the team’s faces when Shiney grabbed what turned out to be just a consolation goal. The fact that Toddy’s had let a sloppy goal get past them appalled the players. Surely a good sign.
The final whistle came as a godsend for Shiney Row. They can have no complaints over the validity of the final score line of 8-1. The signing of John Young may well be the catalyst for the side to possibly go on and be seriously considered as potential champions. He brings a calm and maturity that is required at the heart of any defence in a team if it is to succeed. His distribution was superb, along with his positional sense. Toddy’s rearguard have been accused of a lack of communication amongst themselves. These accusations are not without substance. The introduction of Young may well go a long way to dispelling these fears. The outstanding feature of Toddy’s play after just a few games this season has to be the wing play. Once Stephen Jackson and Neil Middlemiss fully settle into their roles, they will bring a whole new dimension of attacking play to the side. A wonderful plus for the Management was to see Gordon Robson fire in a hat trick in his new role as centre forward. It will make the likes of John Hunt and Stephen Wilson sit up and realise they are not automatic first team choices at the club. Exciting times ahead.
It’s no secret that Toddys.co.uk have been on the lookout for a commanding central defender since the end of the last campaign. The fact that the team conceded over 80 goals last season determined it. I am pleased to announce, Toddys.co.uk have signed one of the best in the business. John Young. As a youngster, John had trials with Blackburn F.C, he currently plays for the excellent Hylton Castle Arms F.C on a Sunday morning. A side that is fully expected to be crowned champions come the end of the season. At the time of writing, John will have already played his first game for Toddys.co.uk. I am fully confident he will have impressed enough to not only determine a successful career with the team, but to help the side to push for all the major honours this season.
John Locke Memorial Cup 1st Round 2nd Leg
5-1 result from a mediocre performance.
Stephen Jackson and Steve Ridley a cut above the rest.
Despite winning 5-1, a much changed line up resulted in a below par performance
Hollymere 1 Toddy’s 5 (Toddy’s 12-1 on aggregate)
John Hunt 3, Steven Ridley, Stephen Jackson
Gary Davison, Ryan McNaught, Davinder Sangha, Gavin Wilson, Liam Dingwall, Steven Ridley, Dean Wardle (Gary Gilby), Lee Tait (Christian Baines), Stephen Jackson, John Hunt (Patrick Walsh), Chris Devlin.
Man of the Match Stephen Jackson
The tie as a contest was already over, as Toddy’s lined up to face Hollymere. It gave the Management ample opportunity to try out a few players who weren’t regarded as first team regulars. Players who were left out due to injuries or managerial decisions were Stephen Wilson, Gordon Robson, Neil Middlemiss, and Patrick Walsh. In came Davinder Sangha to make his full team debut at the heart of the defence at the expense of Patrick Walsh. Likewise Chris Devlin took his place in attack to partner John Hunt in the absence of Stephen Wilson. Stephen Jackson made his long awaited debut on the left wing, and certainly didn’t disappoint. The rest of the team was pretty much as expected.
Whether it was because the tie was over due to the huge first leg advantage, or whether it was because Toddy’s had made changes to crucial areas of pitch, the team couldn’t seem to raise their game to the levels seen so far this season. This was particularly noteworthy in the first half, especially for the first twenty minutes. Davinder Sangha looked decidedly shaky at the heart of defence. This could have been due to the lack of communication between himself and Gavin Wilson who was alongside. Or it could have been just down to nerves. The same can be said of Chris Devlin up front. He also seemed a little unsure of his play. Devlin’s running off the ball was completely non-existent for the first half. And it seemed as if he and John Hunt were struggling to make much of an impact. It would be fair to say, Hollymere could have been a couple of goals up in the first twenty minutes. Toddy’s midfield were struggling to get a grip of the ball, thus preventing them taking a strangle hold of such crucial part of the pitch. However, it wouldn’t be out of line to say the pitch was not exactly in the best of shapes; this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season considering this was only the second or third match being played upon it.
The one true shining light of the game was the performance of Stephen ‘Pud’ Jackson. His constant forays down the left flank, and confidence in his ability to take on opponents was fabulous to watch. It was clear, for Toddy’s to make an impact, it was vital to get the ball to his feet. This factor was proven as it led to his endeavours that led to Toddy’s first two goals. First, he tracked down a ball that he lost and through sheer determination found the vision to lay the ball on to John Hunt who fired in the opening goal. Second came through a solo run down the left wing, and a superb pin point cross that John Hunt only had to guide in with his head to grab his second of the night. Toddy’s were leading 2-0 without really playing anything like to the potential that they could. The third goal of the night came via the penalty spot. A shot fired in by John Hunt was handled on the line by one of the Hollymere players who was subsequently sent off. It was left to Hunt to take the spot kick, which he did admirably and take Toddy’s into a seemingly unassailable 3-0 half time lead.
The second half saw Toddy’s settle a lot better than they had in the first. This must have been due to the fact they were 3-0 up. However, the football was still not to the standard expected. It would be fair to say, Hollymere gave Toddy’s their sternest test of the season so far. Manager William Harper was extremely displeased at how the defence seemed to be struggling to get to grips with the running of the Hollymere forwards. Toddy’s were very fortunate to get the better of the off side decisions. It seemed they were more by chance rather than any tactical manoeuvring. The same could be said at the opposite end of the pitch where both John Hunt and Chris Devlin were continuously venturing off side and failing to strike up any type of partnership. The one real plus point of the second half was the partnership that was being formed down the left side between the Ryan McNaught at left back and M-o-M Stephen Jackson. Their combination play was a joy to watch, and it was clearly giving Hollymere a considerable problem. The understanding between the pair was clearly down to the fact they have played together since the age of 9. I have a feeling that the two could well have cemented their roles in the team, if not, they have a severe case to hold down their positions. Steven Ridley was again taking the mantle of ‘Mr Consistency’. I have yet to see the lad have a below par game. His reward came via a superb solo run through the heart of the Hollymere defence, which resulted in a goal. Stephen Jackson also got the merit of his endeavours as he also fired in goal for what is hoped will be the first of many this season. Hollymere did found what little solace there was when they hit in a late consolation, but they can have little qualm in saying Toddy’s were the far better side over the two legs. As for substitutions, Gary Gilby was brought on for Dean Wardle to shore up the midfield. Lee Tait was took off to rest his suspected groin strain and replaced by Christian Baines, while hat trick hero, John Hunt came off to be replaced by Patrick Walsh who went up and took an extremely unaccustomed role in attack, and could have got himself on the score sheet, if it had not been for a superb piece of goal keeping. Gary Davison made an extremely competent debut in the Toddy’s goal, when he was called upon.
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3 points in an impressive win.
Early days but Toddy’s are in second place.
John Hunt misses a first half penalty but Toddy’s recover to win 6-0
Toddy’s 6 South Shields Studio 2000
Stephen Wilson 2, John Hunt, Patrick Walsh, Steven Ridley, Lee Tait
Darren Lewis, Steven Ridley, Patrick Walsh (sent off), Gavin Wilson, Liam Dingwall (Ryan McNaught), Gordon Robson (Davinder Sangha), Dean Wardle, Lee Tait, Stephen Wilson (Gary Gilby), Neil Middlemiss, John Hunt.
Referee Ronnie Bates
Man of the Match Neil Middlemiss
Following their stunning opening game performance in the John Locke Cup during midweek, Toddy’s went into this opening league fixture full of confidence. Little was known of the opposition, only that they went down to a narrow 2-1 defeat in the same competition midweek against newcomers Silksworth Catholic Club. After some deliberation between Manager Tarnjit Sangha and Coach William Harper, it was decided that the same line up would be kept form the previous match. This meant that Captain Steven Ridley would again be occupying the Right – Back position rather than his favoured central midfield role. Current Right – Back, Ryan McNaught who was available for the game would start on the bench.
Although Toddy’s dominated the proceedings right from the off, it seemed they were already suffering from a hang over from the Cup clash. This trait was Toddy’s biggest downfall last season, when many games were treated as if they were a forgone conclusion when the opposition were not considered of the highest calibre. However, this is something that will not be allowed this season. It was clear that Studio 2000 were expecting Toddy’s to be all over them, and to be fair that is how most of the first half went. However towards the last 10 minutes or so, Studio 2000, started to put some semblance of cohesion together, thus giving the Toddy’s rearguard something to think about. But it was Toddy’s who struck first blood with Stephen Wilson latching onto the end of a cross, swung in by John Hunt. From here on in it was all Toddy’s. Once they had took the lead, everyone on the pitch seemed to settle and the players started to knock the ball about in the fashion they are all accustomed to. It was no surprise to see Stephen Wilson grab his second on the stroke of half time to double Toddy’s lead and it seemed the game was all but over. Second half continued the way the first ended. Toddy’s immediately took the initiative and it wasn’t long before Studio 2000 found themselves under intense pressure. John Hunt added a third to take his tally to four in two games when heading in a cross. There was no let off in Toddy’s play and Centre Half Patrick Walsh, who was to be embroiled in controversy later on added a fourth from a corner. In fact Toddy’s were enjoying huge success from corner kicks as Captain Steven Ridley nodded in to take the score to five. It was entire one way traffic as Toddy’s were launching attack after attack. Again the main threat was coming down the flanks from Gordon Robson and M-o-M for the second consecutive game Neil Middlemiss, who has been nothing short of a revelation since he was signed. Stephen Wilson was brought off due to a slight knock to the ankles and replaced by Gary Gilby who slotted into the Right – Back role, thus allowing Steven Ridley to push up and cover the Right Midfield role. Liam Dingwall was taken of within five minutes of Gilby coming on and was replaced by Ryan McNaught, who showed his sheer versatility by looking just as comfortable on the left side of defence as he does on the right. He really is a great prospect. Lee Tait made it six goals to Toddy’s as he also fired in surprise, surprise another headed goal from a corner. It was at this point that things however turned extremely sour for Toddy’s. Patrick Walsh was red carded for an off the ball incident involving Studio 2000 player Derek Newton. The incident was that severe, the game had to be held up for at least 40 minutes, while the Ambulance was called. Newton was taken to hospital to have what looked like severe bruising of the ribs. When the game finally re – started, Gordon Robson was brought off allowing Davinder Sangha to shore up the defence. As a contest, the game was already over and it gradually fizzled out to leave it Toddy’s 6, Studio 2000 0.
What should have been a marvellous start to the league campaign, was decidedly soured by the incident involving Patrick. It remains to be seen how much of an impact when his, what should be a lengthy ban arrives from Durham Football Association.
John Locke Memorial Cup 1st Round 1st Leg
A brilliant opening game.
6 goals in the first half, ends the tie as a contest.
A competent performance from an impressive looking Toddy’s team.
Toddy’s 7 Hollymere 0
John Hunt 3, Stephen Wilson 2, Lee Tait, Neil Middlemiss,
Darren Lewis, Liam Dingwall, Steven Ridley, Patrick Walsh, Gavin Wilson (Ian Palmer), Gordon Robson (Christian Baines), Lee Tait, Dean Wardle, Neil Middlemiss, John Hunt (Chris Devlin), Stephen Wilson
Referee Tommy Foster
Man of the Match Neil Middlemiss
Toddy’s went into their opening game of the new campaign full of hope and confidence. The team had had an excellent pre-season, recording impressive victories over good sides. 4-2 against New Slipway and a very good performance in defeating Jacksons 2-0. Both I Tarnjit Sangha and William Harper as Management had been criticised for being a little quiet on the transfer front. We both believed it was necessary to bolster the squad rather than bring in replacements. The four signings were Ryan McNaught (Full Back), Neil Middlemiss (Forward), Dennis Jackson (Midfield), and Davinder Sangha (Centre Half). I must point out however, this does not mean we are discounting the prospect of new faces being brought in.
Hollymere who were formally known as Axciom had made quite a few changes form the team that faced us last season. But Manager Darren Davison was confident they could make an impact.
From the first whistle, Toddy’s went at their opponents in a ferocious manner. They never gave Hollymere any time whatsoever to settle on the ball. Defensively, Toddy’s looked right on their game. Both Patrick Walsh and Gavin Wilson looked like granite at the heart of the defence, while Liam Dingwall and Captain Steven Ridley (in a make shift role as right – back) were making dangerous forays into the opposing half. Lee Tait and Dean Wardle dominated central midfield. Hollymere lost this battle completely. Gordon Robson and M-o-M Neil Middlemiss were fabulous down the flanks. Hollymere found them a real problem and couldn’t come up with any solutions to stop them. Middlemiss was a complete revelation on the left side. He made his debut in the friendly on the previous Saturday against Jacksons, a game in which he also played in the same left midfield role. He was excellent then. His performances in both games have been nothing short of superb, proof being his M-o-M award against Hollymere. In attack we had the tried and tested formula of John Hunt and Stephen Wilson. Both seem to be showing a renewed spirit and hunger. Their interplay seems to have reached a different level. Both William Harper and I noted this in the pre-season games. We were both hoping it would carry on in to the season. Judging by this first game, it seems so far so good. All in all, it was a fabulous start to the new campaign, and can only put us in fine stead for the rest of the season. It is important that we do not let this performance go to our heads. There is no doubt in my mind there are far more difficult tasks that lie ahead. However, on this performance, both I and William Harper are fully confident we can met these challenges head on.