Shrew! What a Scorcher
The 2015/16 season ended just as it began with a victory. Brendan Hobbs enjoyed plenty of cheese at the County Ground…
Sunday’s match was a special one for me, not just because it was the last game of the season, but because it gave me the opportunity to take my 6-year-old son to his first game. A rite of passage that I undertook for the first time at the exact same age. But Instead of a cold, drizzly Saturday in October, my son was treated to a glorious, sun-drenched Sunday lunchtime.
And instead of a dull mid-season encounter against Hull City, he was treated to the white hot crucible that is the STFC derby. Was this fixture going to be too passionate, too frenzied for him to cope with, who knew?
Leading one nil from the first leg, Swindon approached the game feeling confident – especially after the recent upturn of results. The draining conditions would probably grind the fixture down to a walking pace though, which hopefully would suit the Town.
I certainly was hot, my replica top was causing me to sweat profusely before kick-off, I spent most of my time peeling myself away from the back of my seat – super-clima-technology my arse! I felt like tearing it off after ten minutes and flinging it down towards row A.
Anyway, yes it was hot, too hot to be bothered with any real details. There was a formation change I think, players came in, some went out due to suspensions, injuries and laughing gas, probably. My son wasn’t interested in all this tactical nonsense either, he was too busy noshing on his Star Mix and wondering why one stand was completely empty, or why there was a sparkly Bishop ranting and raving in the away end.
Town started sprightly, with a show of energy which not just defied the heat or even flicked the v-sign at it, but kneed it hard in the groin. Rodgers got stuck in, Iandolo twinkled, Ajose ran, Obika just cooled it out, accomplishing fantastic things with a minimal amount of effort and in the process, tested the Shrews goal a couple of times early on. My son asked me why everyone was shouting ‘cheese’ when we got in front of goal. (It was ‘shoot’, but he carried on shouting ‘cheese’ for the rest of the match.)
Doughty huffed and puffed, Sendles-White towered whilst Brophy glided, like a gliding glider, gliding through the sky. But maybe not as slow as a glider, more like a jet, yes that’s it, a jet powered glider. He glided like a jet powered glider, giving his opposite number a right torrid time. I was overheating just watching.
Anywho, something happened at this point, I dunno what, I was too busy rummaging around in my bag trying to locate a drink for my lad, I looked up just in time to see Obika sliding into a defender, winning the ball before witnessing Nate Thompson being hacked down in the box, penalty to Town.
Ajose took the responsibility and drilled the spot kick high into the roof of the net. My son was a bit taken aback by the noise, the music, the sight of grown men dancing to ‘glad all over’. He seemed pretty happy though. One nil on the day, two nil on aggregate, the STFC derby shield was in the bag!
The half-time break came and went and I was left wondering if the players would have the strength to improve on their impressive first half showing. Well, they certainly appeared full of beans and were rewarded with some good chances early on.
Thompson continued to push, Kasim controlled, Iandolo tried and Henry watched, and watched and watched. The 17 year-old must think this professional football lark is a total piece of piss, he could only stand and watch – and marvel as a defensive mix-up presented the ball straight to Iandolo who rasped in a snapshot that looked destined for the net, but alas it hit the post.
But Town didn’t have to wait too long for a second though, as Ajose pounced to double Town’s lead. At this point I should be all incisive in my description of the goal, but to be honest I was too busy counting the number of Star Mix rings my lad had forced onto his index finger. I looked up due to the building crescendo from the impressive attendance of 8,012 – just in time to see Ajose in on goal, show a bit of expert control before lashing it home. It was a difficult chance made to look stupidly easy by the master assassin – how many times have I said that this season? The goal took my son by total surprise as the sudden cheer made him jump somewhat.
Town were in total control at this point, with the STFC derby shield now secure, they could relax and enjoy the occasion. And relax they did, allowing the pacey Larnell Cole through to enjoy a one-on-one chance with the bored Henry. If the youngster’s concentration had been affected by total inactivity he didn’t show it, as he dominated the striker with a beast of a save. Bravo lad!
The Shrews continued to push forward and it was via one of these rare attacks that my personal highlight of the game emerged. A Shrewsbury player tangled in the box with Turnbull and decided to theatrically throw himself to ground in a vain attempt to win a penalty. Instead he was left in a heap on top of the prone Turnbull. “Oh dear” I muttered “that was pretty embarrassing” to which my son replied “Why Daddy? Did they start kissing?” Genius.
Kasim rattled the bar with an exquisite freekick before Town decided to throw on a couple of children, with Jake Evans and Jordan Young taking to the field. Wow, what an occasion for the youngsters, will they be nervous and tentative in their play? Well no, as with probably his first touch Evans, a midfielder by trade, fizzed one towards goal from about 30 yards. Confident are our kids!
Town did get the third goal they so richly deserved when the impressive Brophy scythed through the Shrews backline before cutting the ball back to Young, who calmly controlled and finished like a seasoned pro.
Game over, season over. So my lad and I made our way to the front of the DRS for the customary lap of honour – and it was here, at this point that I got hit with a massive spade. A metaphorical spade of course, as there I was, no more than five feet away from Messers Henry, Evans, Brophy, Iandolo and Young, and they were just that, young! So very, very young and if I was to put an age on them, with my old bastard specs on, I would say they were 15 at the most, it was quite shocking. I mean, what was I doing at the age of 16/17? Doing weird stuff with a poster of Tiffany or Debbie Gibson quite possibly.
Great report Brendan. So the main question is…if Will Henry, Jordan Young and Jake Evans are this good, why haven’t they featured much sooner this season?
I’d say, Henry did very well but it would be mad to expect him to start games in such a high-pressure position in games that matter. Fans have slaughtered enough of ‘our own’ when playing much higher up the pitch (Macklin in particular). One mistake and he would quickly become the new Belford…
Give him time and he might make it but he won’t be first choice for a long time. Only exceptional ‘keepers make it that young.
Young looked highly technical and well able to use his small frame, even against bigger players. Game was won before he came on though. Let him bed in off the bench first…
Evans was out of position so hard to say much…
Maybe they were too busy studying for their GCSEs?