While we await the owners’ verdict on whether Mercury 13’s millions shall be liberally sprinkled over The Dripping Pan like confetti, it seems the budget cuts have hit harder than anyone realised.
Hence, this week, the club appointed a new Technical Director, and he wasted no time sharing his philosophy with the fans on social media:
There was some doubt whether the men’s management would be willing to take direction from this tactical maverick, but we can exclusively reveal his words were taken on board. The proof? The Supporters Club was granted rare access to the inside of Cool Box Tone’s cool box. Its contents are normally so fiercely guarded, the man himself sits on it for the entire 90 minutes, afraid that secrets might leak.
However, we managed to get an exclusive glimpse inside, and what did we find?
The cool box’s primary function is to keep the management team’s half-time snacks at a safe temperature. The box might bear Lucozade branding, but inside it’s a Ginsters haven, and only a lunatic would chance a Bombay Potato & Spinach Pasty stored at anything higher than 4C.
Delve beneath Joe Vines’ favourite Creamy Garlic Mushroom Slices, however, and you discover the mother lode: Tony’s tactics book. And there, writ large on the opening page, was the short but critical speech to be delivered to the players before the match:
All joking aside (“there were jokes?”, we hear you cry), Tony really did need a new tactical plan ahead of this one, because of a sudden drought of wingers. Free-scoring KLK was still recovering from injury, Deon Moore was away on international duty, Ola Ogunwamide was cup tied, and Ryan Gondoh is the club’s new food critic after succumbing to knee-knack, leaving only Deshane Dalling fit to maraud down the flanks.
Hence, Tony switched to a back three of Penney, Vint and Elliott, with Olukoga and Hughes reinvented as wing backs. The recently benched midfield trio of Egan, Murtagh and Whelpdale were all back, alongside Sablier, with Brad The Marrow unexpectedly dropping to the bench. Wood ploughed a lone furrow up front.
The Rooks settled into their new formation pretty comfortably for the opening 13 minutes, perhaps too comfortably, because it was a careless back pass that gifted Aldershot the lead. That fell to striker Lorent Tolaj who planted the ball past Harvey to give the home side a largely undeserved lead.
Two minutes later and our tactical Plan A was being severely stress tested. A pass from the back set Aldershot’s winger free down the right and the ball was squared for another Tolaj tap-in. 2-0 down after 15 minutes. Eek.
It would have been easy for the boys to fold at this point – not least when Olukoga joined the crocked list midway through the half to be replaced by Tamplin – but they clung on. Yes, Aldershot had chances to make it three or four, not least when they popped one off our crossbar, but we had a couple of decent chances of our own towards the end of the half. The Aldershot back line were so worried, the number 5 threw up all over the pitch.
After a half-time chinwag and a Ginsters Cornish Original for the gaffer (he’s such a traditionalist), the boys set about the second half with gusto. A lovely passing move ended with Sablier stabbing a ball through for Wood to run on to. He finished as cooly as you like to bring the deficit back down to one with only three minutes of the second half gone and – much to our Technical Director’s delight – the game was being stayed in.
Sadly, though, the resurgence didn’t last long. Just before the hour, Aldershot broke down the left, popped a shot at Harvey that he could only deflect into the path of Jones for a close-range finish.
We made them wait until the 91st minute to put us completely out of sight, with Tolaj collecting his hat-trick from close range.
There were no real complaints from the travelling band of 180-odd Rooks fans. Yes, we gave away a scruffy opener, but they were the better side, as they should be from two divisions above. Overall, it’s been a very decent cup run and as the Youth Wing regularly reminded the home fans, Europe is still to come.
Lewes: Harvey, Elliott, Hughes, Vint, Penney, Egan, Murtagh, Sablier, Whelpdale, Olukoga, Wood
Subs: Tamplin, Wickramasinghe (no, we’ve no idea either), Dalling, Pritchard, Lumbombo-Kalala, Salmon
Boyesy’s brilliant big-lens photos: