So rarely can a scoreline fail to tell the story of a football match. A 1-1 draw, between the sides that finished second and third last season respectively, would have been considered a good result for both sides before kickoff and a safe bet for the observer. However despite the relative quality of the two sides, the game quickly descended into farce.
None of this was helped by a no-show from the qualified league referee, leaving both sides to offer an inexperienced, unqualified individual to adjudicate over a game at the highest level of college football. The result was, almost ineviteably, chaos.
Yet the game started in good spirits as Anne’s had the entirety of the pressure in the first ten minutes as Wadham started poorly and failed to clear their lines. The closest effort early on came from left winger George Kynaston, who latched onto a neat through ball on the right hand side of the area to lash a shot off the bar. Anne’s contined to press, peppering numerous shots form range, but failed to beat an inspired Marc Rimmer in the Wadham goal.
Yet the game soon fell apart, with a number of tough challenges from both sides leading to unnecessary squabbling between the players, and without an impartial figure to provide authority in such a pressured environment, tempers rose sharply to boiling point.
Initially this failed to break Anne’s stride, with two further Kynaston efforts striking each post and a scrambled effort at a corner was headed over the line by Sean Lennon on the post. Yet with tempers fraying beyond repair, Wadham’s stand-in referee was soon subject to a barrage of abuse, particularly from Anne’s central midfielder Stephen Clarke who provided one expletive comment too many directly at the referee and was swiftly ordered from the pitch. Pandemonium ensued as the vast majority of the twenty two on the field, and some substitutes, rushed to air their grievances.
All this finally stemmed Anne’s flow and Wadham began to find some fluency to break the deadlock. A handball ten yards inside from the right hand touchline gave Tim Poole the chance to swing in a freekick, which deflected off countless players before Rob Deakin bundled it over the line.
Wadham held their lead until half time, allowing both sets of players to cool off and assess a farcical first half. With the boundaries of respect set by the new Anne’s referee, the second half started more conventionally, yet neither side provided any sort of flowing football. As legs tired, chances started to come; first a Wadham cross swung in on the right hand side was swiftly controlled by Michael Edwards but his attempt at a shot was quickly cut out.
Soon though Wadham’s continuing sluggishness cost them, and Anne’s began to again pepper Marc Rimmer’s goal. Yet much like in the first half, genuine chances were hard to come by. When last season’s top goalscorer Ed Border finally did get the chance to move clear he was cut out by the magnificent Shane Grosser at the heart of the Wadham defence.
The pressure though, finally told, as a switched ball sent the Anne’s left back racing along the left wing before sliding along an exellent ball into the path of substitute Jonny Pearson to slide into an empty net from a yard out.
Just as the game looked settled, there was still time for tempers to flare one more time, Tim Poole was sent free on the right hand side to square the ball to Wadham captain Adam Searles to bang the ball into an empty net. Poole though, was controversially adjudged offside by the Anne’s referee without a decision from the linesman, much to the suspicion of Searles, whose own four letter rant lead to his dismissal. After that, little drama ensued and the game fizzled out to a draw. Both sides though, will ultimately see the draw as a good result given the opposition, and will be looking to forget this absurd encounter and move on in their attempts to break Worcester’s dominance.