UWMCCFC: Kraus; Haque, Hall, Jewson, Wood; Beauclerk, Kynaston, Gould, David; Platt, Livesey.

Long has the winter break been the scourge of the UWMCCFC, traditionally so strong in the first half of the season only to fade away miserably after the festive period. As Van Howe’s men took to the field against WFS-B, they sought to rewrite this narrative and banish their traditional post-Christmas blues, albeit in a relatively pointless fixture contributing only to seedings for the pivotal knockout stages. (Thanks again to the whoppers at Warwick Sport for the ridiculous format of this year’s competition.)

As expected, the first stages of the match were marked by rustiness, with few managing to find their touch and the UWMCCFC unable to string together a coherent passing move. Conditions also proved counterproductive to any good football being played, with Kraus describing the weather as ‘sleety snow’.

A moment of sheer quality stood out from the mediocrity on display. After being found by a pass/sloppy touch from Raheem David, fresh from his controversial holiday in Jamaica, Jack Gould looked up to see the keeper off his line and pinged the ball over him into the top right-hand corner of the net. An absolute golazo if ever there was one and an instant contender for goal of the season. Or goal of the century. Cue unbelievable scenes in the UWMCCFC dugout.

WFS hit back almost instantly, however. The UWMCCFC defence, carrying a still seshed and largely uncoordinated Jonny Hall, failed to deal with a through ball which fell for the striker to dispatch with ease. Jewson inconsolable, flopping to the floor in utter despondency at having conceded.

There remained one last act before the referee, who had bizarrely led the WFS warm-up before the game (any of some impartiality FA?!), could blow the half-time whistle. Cam Beauclerk used his French flair to nip to the byline, winning a corner which was swung over by Splatt and planted firmly into the bottom corner by the inspired Gould for a 2-1 lead. Haque, incidentally, claiming a slight but critical touch on the way in. One for the (inappropriately named) Dubious Goals Panel perhaps.

The second half started with more inconsistent passing, meaning the UWMCCFC largely surrendered possession to their opponents. Threat up front remained in the shape of Livesey, who flashed a chance wide, while a header was cleared off the line from another Platt delivery.

Just as the UWMCCFC began to think about parking the bus to ensure victory, WFS went up the other end and won a free kick just outside the box after a rash challenge from Hall. The set piece was swept home, with Kraus dismayed at the inexplicable collective decision of the cowardly wall to duck rather than actually get in the way of the ball.

As the match entered its closing stages, with both sides looking to find the winner, a lapse in concentration at the back settled proceedings. Dom Wood, in a pure #headsgone moment, chose to ruin what had been a typically competent individual display with an underhit pass back to goal. The WFS forward was quickest to react, racing on to the ball and schlipping it home with a nice finish.

Howe, replacing the fresh-faced debutant Michael Kimmerston in midfield, sought to provide some inspiration to the UWMCCFC as they pressed for an equalizer in the dying minutes. Despite some tense moments in the opposition area, it was WFS who came closest to scoring, with Kraus having to pull off some fine David De Gea-esque saves before the final whistle was blown.

While defeat is disappointing, it remains largely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The UWMCCFC remain hopeful of lifting the coveted trophy at the season’s end to emerge from their tag as perennial Saturday-league bottlejobs. However, they must improve in the coming matches after this week’s patchy performance.