The weekend’s time change to Pacific Standard Time may have given most people an extra hour in bed, but it gave Old Boys’ manager Graham Tweddle an extra 60 minutes of angst as he scanned the horizon for reinforcements to the Old Boys starting lineup.
The boys were scheduled to meet the beast-like Victoria Centaurs Sunday morning at the Fernwood Elementary School Hippodrome.
Prematch discussion focused on the Old Boys’ morale after their previous week’s 8-2 shellacking as spectators rolled on the sidelines. When the whistle blew, Antonio Alonso had yet to appear, once again falling victim to the absence of a Government of Canada country-wide information blitz about the time change.
Dave Toynbee won the toss, and Old Boys chose to play uphill in the first half to save their energy for the second, where all was sure to go downhill.
Alonso arrived mumbling something about “federal taxes,” quickly followed by the whirlwind himself Ben Cooper joining the fray.
Centaurs, making the most of the early running and a downhill slope, had two glorious chances on breakaways.
A Donny Brown slip on the greasy surface gave the Centaurs a clear shot on a defenceless Jack Braak, but Old Boys cleared the danger.
A close offside call prevented a great passing movement by the Old Boys as they began to find some sort of footing in the tarry midfield quicksands. Mike Berendt, injured by the Centaur “beast,” limped off the field. A Braak diversionary slip took Centaurs attackers by surprise as they once again tried the chip to no avail. A further save by Braak when faced with a one-on-one kept the scoreline tied at zero.
A fantastically fast through pass found Toynbee beating the offside trap, making a run up to the right corner for a cutback that allowed Mike McCormick time to measure a fine shot, which the keeper saved low to his right.
Half-time encouragement from the manager and sideline support preceded Charley Mayer’s opining that it was like playing in the Alberta tar sands. So deep and thick was the quagmire, he expected to find fossils out there. The obvious retort needs not be repeated, but fossils and dinosaurs came to mind.
With the return of some key players — Stefan Cermak, the returning Dave Eadie for whom the Centaur “beast”had fond memories, the MIA Martin Thorn and, of course, the ever-vocal presence of Jim Witherspoon — the Old Boys confidently ventured out to tempt their fate in the second half.
Playing against the slope would give the Old Boys a psychological advantage, but a Centaur pass through the penalty area saw Scott Howe become entangled with an opponent, which led to a Centaurs penalty kick. To add insult to injury, Howe was in fact injured on the play and left the field not to return for the rest of the game. Braak made a valiant attempt, but a well-placed penalty shot gave the Centaurs a 1-0 advantage.
The Old Boys stormed back, attempting to negate the penalty, but only encountered further calamity as a cross from a corner kick saw Braak collide with an attacker. The ball deflected towards Tweddle, who was pushed from behind to force the ball over the line for an own goal that gave the Centaurs a two-goal lead.
Fired up by the lack of any call against the Centaurs, Old Boys pushed back for revenge, and Toynbee soon had the Old Boys on the scoreboard.
Cooper followed up by taking off, beating man after man with nice linking passes from his midfield colleagues, to make a wonderful solo effort to tie the game at two.
Moments later, Mark Aston appeared to have curled in the winner, but the square goal posts rebounded the shot, and Aston was unable to collect the rebound and seal the comeback with mere minutes left to play.
Centaurs managed a counter attack, only to be thwarted by Brown and Doug Fraser, who prevented a last-minute calamity before the final whistle blew to seal the 2-2 draw.
The Old Boys play the third match of a four-game home stand on Sunday, Nov. 13 against Vic West 48. Kickoff is at 10:30 a.m. Location was still to be determined at press time.