Highworth Christmas Cup – our day out at the Swindome

So it was that an intrepid few once again ventured to Swindon early on the Sunday morning of 2nd December; an early start to get there by 9.30am.  The venue this time was the Swindome, part of Swindon Supermarine’s excellent complex.  It is an indoor arena, with a small-ish full-sized pitch and very welcoming facilities.  The tournament was run under WFA rules, with two referees from the WFA there to ensure there was no running and no physical contact.  Or not.

No unsophisticated CCTV here at the Swindome

We opened against Cheltenham Spartacus,and played a good solid game, with periods when both sides were in the ascendency.  It took a spectacular shot from near half-way that bent just inside the post to beat goalkeeper John Kennett, and that proved to be the difference between the sides as it finished 0-1.

Next on our fixture list was Trowbridge, who proved to be a very mobile and quite physical side, so they fitted in well with the WFA philosophy of no contact and no running (?).  A good tackle from Stew Russell saw the opponent follow through with his attempted shot, that contact later proving to have chipped a toe-bone and twisted Stew’s knee. Inevitably their speed and pressure took its toll, and we slipped to another 1-0 defeat.

Our next match was against Oxford United B,and although we also lost this one 1-0, it was far closer than it sounds. Stew had a goal disallowed for having a foot inside the penalty area, and Pete Dolamore hit the post with a long-range effort.

                                 The very excitable crowd even before kick off

We had a long gap between matches now, and took advantage of the Prostate Cancer UK cakes and teas/coffees that were on sale at £1 each  –  we helped them raise over £250 by doing so, and it possibly wasn’t us that spent all of that!

The cake selection before the Many Shades hunted it down

Next in line for us were table-topping hosts Highworth Reds, who had just thumped Trowbridge, so we knew we were in for a hard game.  The fact that they beat us 2-0 hides a little bit of the quality of our performance, as one of the goals was a penalty when one of our elder statesmen stepped into our own penalty area by accident, and the other was a defensive error.

So to our last game, against Rivermead. They were just above us with two draws in their four games, so we hoped to beat them to finish fifth out of sixth.  We nearly did.  After falling behind quite early, we got back level thanks to Keith McNeil’s first ever Many Shades goal.  When Pete Brown blasted home a near-post shot it looked as if we might win our first game of the day, but having to use all our subs disrupted the team’s shape and Rivermead levelled to earn a fair and enjoyable draw.

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The very hi-tech scoreboard unfortunately highlighting the Many Shades’ lo-tech position

The Many Shades squad for the Tournament was:
Back (l-r) : Jeff Pickering, Pete Dolamore, Pete Brown, Jeff Hooper, Keith Huet, Stew Russell; Front : Barry Ingram, John Kennett (g), KeithMcNeil,