Match Report - 03 Nov 2012, Leeds Modernians Football Club 1sts beat Ilkley Town
Surveying a barely credible statistic of three defeats in the last five games, Mods' hero breed took the pitch knowing that a further reverse today would potentially have damaging consequences on their title bid and even promotion itself.
These boys have not been brought up to embrace failure though and whilst the stats don't lie, the helpful expedient of other contenders beating each other whilst we experience our 'sticky patch' may turn out to be a lifesaver.
Psychologically damaged after dominating possession for much of last week's fixture against Old Headingley yet going down to two goals with barely a shot on target for our efforts, manager Birch asked the question - who's up for it and who just wants a run around away from B&Q for a while?
The earlier kick off saw both teams share the early exchanges until an uncharacteristic rick from 'Mr Dependable' Danny Claxton on the edge of the area gifted a surprised but delighted Ilkley forward the opportunity to pass the ball beyond Tom.
Seven minutes, 1-0 down. Not good.
We learned from the corresponding fixture that there is little between our side and these Ilkley boys but still felt diappointed at losing at their place last month despite leading for the majority of the game as Si Lewis was sent off for Frenching their centre half.
This game was likely to be hard enough without gift wrapping goals. It was Danny Claxton though - one mistake in an unblemished season. Everyone deserves a second chance.
That second chance came eight minutes later as a reasonable through ball from their midfield fell between Danny and their centre forward. Using his presence of mind and inate balance, Danny took control of the ball and seemed to be ushering it away to safety until he seemed to forget the bit about ushering it away to safety. Danny was robbed of the ball and what was remaining of his dignity as the Ilkley forward took possession and stroked it passed a despairing and disbelieving Tom in goals. What shape shifter had entered the body of Danny Claxton today?
Fifteen minutes, 2 - 0 down. Really, really not good.
Well, the sages and old stagers watching the game grimaced and muttered things about 'let's see what they're made of now'. Veteran left footed legend Chris Roy, half way through his metamorphosis into an urban pirate, summed it up best with a hearty shout of 'avast ye swabs! It's a keel hauling for ye miserable laggards'!
With the return of Higgins and Forrest to the ranks, Mods were more of a goal threat than last week's frustration fest and gradually, working and moving intelligently, Mods started putting moves together that reminded Ilkley that we weren't contenders by mistake or fluke.
The rest of the half saw Mods combine a sense of desperation with urgency and we moved the ball down the left flank intelligently and forced Ilkley on the back foot. One such move resulted in us pegging one back as a crossfield move from the right ended up at the feet of young Toddy on the edge of the box. Showing a fine combination of determination and calm, the Todster settled, balanced and clipped the ball across the Ilkley keeper and into the inside netting. 1-2. Game, as they say, on.
Ilkley reacted as though this period of Mods domination was somehow preordained and resorted to falling further back to hold what they had. Mods were in no mood to repeat the experiences of last week and the constant pressure paid off when Danny Forrest made the most of a loose ball in the box, kept his head and stroked the Mods justified equaliser past a stationary Ilkley custodian.
Two - Two. Now we're talking.
Mods joined the half time huddle in good spirits having seemingly pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a fine comeback against a strong team who were not disposed to lying down and dying.
First team supremo Birch had the difficult task of congratulating the fightback whilst at the same time despairing at simple instructions not being carried out. How hard is it to stand on the front post at a corner? It's not only been mentioned in training and team talks - it's been chanted like some weird incantation by the good time guys that used to sacrifice each other to their dumb gods.
The first half of the second period was a testing affair as both teams took stock and breath in equal measure. Chances at either end were few and far between and sloppy play by both teams began to spoil the specacle for the fair amount of fans in attendance. Gradually though, Ilkley began to get the upper hand and possession turned into a series of chances only for excellent last gasp defending to thwart what looked like certain goals.
Goalkeeper Tom Day earned his fair share of sherbert on his porridge with a series of barely believeable saves that had onlookers on our side holding their heads in disbelief and their players doing the same in frustration and, to be fair, admiration as Tom put the shutters down and 'house full' signs up.
As the cries of 'last minute' went up from the Ilkley players clearly sensing that there was more points than one up for grabs. a neat exchange in the centre circle from Mods saw the ball reach recent recruit, Not-thin Clarke who showed a neat touch and good awareness to slip the ball to Mods skipper Pouncett, stealing into the area. The panic in the Ilkley ranks at seeing 'the second gingerest man in football' c. A. Atkins, bearing down on goal resulted in a desparate and mis-timed challenge that Alex could hardly avoid being cut in half by. Penalty. Victory from jaws of defeat FC.
Up stepped Mods matinee idol Alex Higgins. On the sidelines, Jai Nai Wilson, showing an architects' eye for detail, muttered; 'he's missed his last three'.
'Please don't Panenka, Please don't Panenka', silently chanted the gripped audience. Not a bit of it. Alex stroked the ball down the centre and wheeled away as the Ilkley keeper flapped helplessly to his right.
Three-Two to us. First time we'd been in the lead all game. Fantastic!
Alex had barely time to get past the 'D' when the ref blew for full time. Last kick of the game. We've won. Payback for the robbery at Cents.
Ilkley trooped off struck dumb with disbelief. Fair enough. We deserved to win or draw at their place and they got the points and the situation was reversed here. Football karma. Report by Lord Smythe of Ilkley
Leeds Modernians Football Club 1sts 3 - 2 Ilkley Town ()