Sunday, 7th September 2014
Deptford  – S. Optimists  – NXI 
Anticipation and excitement were in the air as players gathered for the opening game of the first fully-formalised Deptford 3SF League. Although many players had over two years of 3SF experience this would be the first time playing in a league structure, with fixed squads and results counting towards more than mere post-match bragging rights.
Before the season could start it had to be formed, and that meant fixtures. In an attempt to ensure a fair distribution, fixtures were to be allocated on a semi-random basis – a fixture list had already been drawn with letters a-f taking the place of team names, and before the first round of matches representatives from each team picked a letter out of a bag to seal the fate of their team. The full list of fixtures can be found here.
While each team was keen to pour over the newly formed fixture list that would have to wait, as it was straight on to the first round of matches! For New Cross Irregulars, this meant a tough match against league founders Deptford 3FC and relative newcomers Strategic Optimists.
The game started in traditionally tentative fashion – without a clear adversary at the beginning of 3SF matches, teams can often be reluctant to be too aggressive as they try to avoid upsetting the delicate diplomacy that informs a lot of 3SF gameplay. But first blood must be drawn, and the opening goal of the new season went to NXI’s Laurence Galpin, scored against Deptford 3FC. It would prove to be a prolific day for the NXI striker, and he quickly added to his tally with a second against D3FC and one against SO. With NXI’s goal enjoying a relatively untroubled third they went into the first break in the lead, with a score of 2-1-0.
As the match resumed, the NXI team were under no illusions as to what the second third would bring. Being in the lead in a 3SF match invariably invites pressure onto your goal as the opposing two teams look to restore parity, and so it proved once again D3FC and SO joining forces to lay siege to NXI’s goal. Despite some sterling defensive work from the entire NXI team, the pressure eventually told and they conceded three goals to SO players to end the second third in last place.
The final third started with SO keen to continue the alliance they had formed with D3FC, but for reasons that remain unclear the team in black proved more evasive, seemingly happy to follow play in whichever direction it flowed so long as it wasn’t toward their own goal. NXI sought to take advantage of this shift in dynamic and through a combination of opportunistic play and a frankly bizarre own goal the game was back level at 3-3-3. With the final whistle approaching there was still time for one more goal, inevitability scored by Galpin who collected the ball in front of a crowded SO area and showed excellent composure to slot the ball through the bodies and into the SO goal. Despite further chances against each team no more goals were scored and the game ended 3-4-3, with NXI 33FC and Deptford 3FC sharing a ‘winning draw’ (for further explanation of 3SF results see here).
As players shook hands and dragged their weary bodies from the pitch it was agreed it had been an excellent 3SF match with archetypal swings in momentum and numerous examples of deception and switches of play.
This was one match in a season of ten for NXI, and while the team were happy to come away with the winning draw there was definitely a sense that there had been a chance of an outright win and the team showed plenty of potential which they hoped to build on as the season progressed.
The other match of the first round also saw a winning draw, shared between Philosophy 3FC and Aesthtico Athletico, with Polscy Budowlancy suffering the defeat in a 2-2-3 scoreline.
The next round of matches will be played on Sunday, 5 October, kicking off at 2pm.