Living Hope Church 3 – 4 Maple Leaf Rovers QMC

Pete Hopper writes: With freshly washed kit and players (in most cases), coupled with a spiffing pre-season and new home ground, it was with great anticipation that LHC hosted Maple Leaf today. And it is with a heavy heart that I report a result we were, in truth, not expecting and perhaps (just perhaps) didn’t deserve.

It took 10 mins of the usual opening match jostling and ‘good morning opposite number, how the heck are you’ before some sublime cut-throat passing opened up the guests defence and a fumbled clearance left Josh ‘I-may-be-a-lefty-but-i’m-actually-pretty-balanced’ Steventon to set up Ben ‘pick-this-one-out’ Berrows with a 18.712 yard shot (approx) that pinged beautifully off the right post, causing both the ball to ruffle the net for the first time and the startled upright to sing out with a note that set the key for LHC cheers and songs. Translation: 1-0.

It wasn’t long before our sprightly 11 doubled the lead, this time by Nick ‘stuck-in-the-middle-with-cal’ Timmins  who was set up by our premiere scorer finished with similar aplomb. Very quickly it was 2-0.

From here it went a bit wrong for us. Maple Leaf seemed to arrive at  30mins in and took full advantage of the fact that LHC had decided to nap on their feet. A little helping of concentration loss here, a sprig of ‘he’s miles off’ there and finally Maple Leaf turned up the gas, cooking the score evenly on both sides by half time. 2-2.

It got a whole lot tougher for us on the flip side. Maple Leaf were thrown the ring to rule them all when Matt ‘I-got-the-ball’ Hemming had to make the walk of shame after taking down ML’s No.9 who had slipped through a sleeping blockade and was through on goal. So the work of 9 made us 10 and the climb to the 3-point summit had just got a whole lot harder.

Made harder still when ML’s patience was rewarded at 55 minutes: the pressure finally broke the dam and gave them the lead for the first time. 2-3.

You know the types of game when everything seems to go wrong and  pre-match predictions are but muddy memories trampled into a clean sheet? Yeah, we had one of those. Even when a pressure cooker goal that was
brilliantly finished from Callum ‘the-headband-is-purely-for-practical-reasons-and-in-no-way-a-fashion-statement’ Oakshott who was again found in acres by his willing assistant Ben ‘BB-gun’ Berrows and slotted it like an 8-Ball into the corner pocket.
Even then, it felt deep down that it wasn’t gonna hold for long. And sure enough, the 11 men ‘not-from-Canada-but-sound-like-they-should-be’ pushed and prodded until a well earned corner ball swooped over to the far post and was headed in from close range, restoring their lead. 3-4.

A few more things probably happened after this but the pain of the preceding 80 mins had blinded me by then. The whistle blew. The pain ended.

ML strode to victory and we were left scratching heads as to what had happened to turn a comfortable lead into a millstone around our collective neck.

Not the glorious start we were looking for, however we should acknowledge ML who battled and battled and never gave up – well done lads.

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