Renaissance 3-3 Gazza Strip
This is thriller, thriller night
‘Cause Renaissance can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So read this match report and share the killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight
(with apologies to Rod Temperton)
Renaissance staged one of the great comebacks of their illustrious history on a chilly Halloween night at Newton Prep this evening. A late screamer from on loan Alex Fahey made it trick not treat for Gazza Strip, who having looked certain to take all three points at 0-3 up surely hadn’t accounted for opposition possessing such second half spirit.
The contest commenced cagily, both sides aware they were in for the toughest test of the season thus far and it was honours even for the first quarter, neither keeper unduly spooked. That was to change on 12 minutes, substitute Sam failing to sense a sinister presence at the back post as a Strip striker ghosted in to poke the opener, which was about as welcome as seeing a gang of local reprobates turn up at one’s front door and stick a smoke bomb through the letter box. (This correspondent would never dream of condoning such Halloween-based hilarity…)
Things took on an even more terrifying turn moments later, again a lapse in concentration at a set play, this time The Artist failing to track a late run at a corner. The Gazza goalscorer finished unerringly to double the deficit. A previously happy home had been transformed into a house of horror for Renaissance! Gazza Strip are only involved in half the battles down at Battersea this season, having joined the league midway through the campaign, but on this dark night were certainly proving serious challengers for any would-be champions with some fluid forward play. 0-2 at half time and there were eerie silences and haunted looks aplenty amongst those of a Blue persuasion during the interval.
The evening was to take an even more tortuous turn shortly though, despite Renaissance looking brighter just after the break. On 25 minutes, a Strip stopper threw off his shackles and like some crazed mummy went marauding upfield, leaving striker Scholesy scampering in his wake. A drilled drive into the roof of Blues keeper Matthew’s net later and it was 0-3 Gazza and high time for the dentist’s chair. For Renaissance, Root Canal would have been a cheery Christmas present by comparison. Mum-Ra was duly booked for his celebration by the resident zombie officiating proceedings for Top Corner.
Three down and staring at the lengthening shadow of their biggest defeat for some time, a heinous Halloween loomed large for Renaissance. A loss here and initiative in this year’s title race would have well and truly passed to rivals the Judean Peoples’ Front but as unexpected comebacks go, what followed in the remaining 20 minutes was enough to surpass the stars of Night of the Living Dead.
Showing they were not the only side able to summon up set piece saucery, Renaissance began to exorcise the demons of the first half via a well worked near post corner routine, Scholesy firing the ball in for Alex to flick home, the Gazza goalie with no chance. 1-3 on the half hour.
Bearing in mind the occasion it was perhaps no surprise that the opponents developed a dose of the heebee jeebees and a second soon followed after some lax defensive work at the back allowed The Artist to atone for his earlier error and stroke home a belated first of the campaign on 35.
What followed was 10 minutes of action that those of a nervous disposition no doubt watched through their hands &/or behind the sofa. It was end to end stuff, Renaissance guilty of the classic horror film faux pas of forgetting to shut the back door properly as they charged forward to eek out an equaliser. Great goalkeeping from Matthew allied to an obdurate defensive display by Brunelleschi and Rembrandt and some slightly profligate finishing from Gazza meant that somehow the score remained 2-3 with a minute or so to go.
The crypt was about to be closed on this contest forever with Renaissance on the wrong side of the door. Mercifully one man had refused to follow this script, a scenario too depressing for even the Brothers Grimm, and in doing so Alex Fahey was to usher himself into an arguably more beloved branch of folklore, those heroes who have scored superb last minute strikes for Renaissance!
Strip were surely sensing the hard work had been done by this late stage in a tough test for both teams and this coupled with the fact they must have been running low on Gaz as much as their more exalted opponents meant they retreated to the edge of their own box as midfielder Alex strode forwards for his side one final time with the seconds on the TC timekeeper’s clock ticking away remorselessly.
With nothing but a long shot on offer, the Brixton & Hove Albion loanee let fly with a simply superb strike from all of 20 yards which swerved low and hard beyond the despairing dive of the Gazza goalie. Halloween heroics! 3-3!
There was still the chance of a late scare via successive Strip set pieces but Renaissance held firm and scenes of jubilation greeted the final whistle which signified an incredible second half recovery effort and more importantly a move back into top spot, a three point lead in the table for the boys in blue with just two games of the season now left to play.
Whatever happens in the rest of this campaign though, few will forget Halloween 2013, the night Renaissance came back from the dead.
Matthew Ball; Brunelleschi, Rembrandt; The Artist, Alex Fahey; Scholesy
Subs: Sam Salek, Greig Marshalsey