That’s right folks: THE SAINTS ARE BACK! “Yes, I smell a changing in the wind, a turning of the tide, a fresh start, a new dawn to a brand new era, all those things and more,” said Gaffer-by-Default and Skipper Steve Shaw, “And the season is young yet, so who knows where we might end up but mathematically speaking, well, as I always say, anything that is possible, is not impossible.”
Do we need to mention Gemadept are the whipping boys of the entire league?! Do we need to say that the Saints probably took a little longer than they should have putting Gemadept to the sword? Or did I accidentally do that already?
What’s important was the Saints got back to winning ways, no matter who we were playing. No one was more up for it than Chairman Ben Peadon — fresh off the red eye flight back from Dubai, where he was the guest of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the Saints biggest admirers, who has been “gravely concerned” with the club’s winless streak in the league. His spurt — Ben’s, not the Sheikh’s — up the left flank all the way to the byline would have reminded you of the greatest attacking left-side full back of all time, yes, the pocket rocket, Terry Phelan. Wrapping his left peg round the ball, he — Ben, not Terry Phelan — picked out new signing Andy Smith, who managed to avoid cushioning the ball on his magnificent head of hair, a bed of tightly-wound ringlets, to power a header home. “Valderammesque that hair…” said Iaian Campbell to Steve Shaw, wistfully recalling his own glory days with his Hansel (the boy band, not the character from Brothers Grimm, or Zoolander) style hair-do. Incidentally, with this headed goal, his first in the league for the Saints, Smith immediately became joint 4th top-scorer for the Saints.
The Saints probably should have had a couple more before halftime—and done more with the ball in general but they eventually started to turn the screws in the second half with midfielders James Teague, Steve Shaw, Bryan and Aidan McNally all bossing the game at various stages of the match with Chuck and new signing Quan looking lively on the flanks. Powering through the middle to latch on to a Jimmy ‘Half-Iron Man’ Q pass, Smith grabbed a second goal with his right peg from the edge of the box — a strike which, incidentally, immediately put him in joint-second place on the top goal scorers’ chart. The Ultras were starting to get lively now, taunting the opposition’s fans — might have been a couple of randoms, but better safe than sorry, so the Ultras let them have it anyway. Would the Saints pull away? Yes, but only after deciding to let Gemadept have the ball for a while. Sean Boyle expertly let one long-range effort float over him, hit the post, and come off his back to complete safety. “Had it all the way,” Boyle comforted his mostly unflappable central defenders, Ben Hulbert and Sean Campbell, who were soon flapping as a spot of ping-pong broke out around the box, which only ended when a Gemadept striker scored with a scissors kick.
The Saints collectively decided enough was enough and pretty much straight from the kick off, running onto a flick from Chuck, Smith was through on goal again, this time lobbing the ball over the Gemadept goalie and his Gangnam-style googles, to grab his third of the day, incidentally, a goal which made him joint top scorer for the league this season.
The Saints relaxed a little and started to control the game after that. With Ian Pavitt now on as right back, Iaian Campbell was free to run around wherever he liked. Both were involved in a superb team move that built from the right, weirdly making its way further forward, before switching over to the left from where Jimmy Q squared for Andy to tap home with his left peg, a goal which, incidentally, made him top scorer for the Saints this season. “I told the boys if the defenders passed to the midfielders and then the midfielders passed to the forwards, then we’d cause them problems,” said Shaw. “So, yeah, I am claiming a technical assist for that.”
With the match now wrapped up, James Teague took an executive decision to take Andy off before Andy became runaway top scorer for the season, and also so he could milk the fans adulation from the stands, where they were on the verge of getting up to the usual hijinx (setting off flares, doing the poznan, winding up the opposition fans, driving a burning Vespa off the top tier, etc). The Saints had time for one more, the tireless chairman ripping the hapless Gemadept apart with an incisive Phelanesque run before laying it off for the Webmaster to side-foot a FIZZING shot in between the legs of the Gemadept goalie to make it five-one. The icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the “decisive” fifth goal that inarguably determined the final score, I’m not one to brag but that was also my second best (and second) goal of the season.
After that it was party time. The wild celebrations very nearly had all four Ultras kicking off in the stands. The players did their best to intervene, pleading the fans to come down and have a can of beer instead.
Man of the match: Andy Smith
Next week: Saints vs Olympique, Same Place, Slightly Later Time