Going, going, gone – auction winners slip to defeat

Hook Venturers Veterans 2 Rocks Lane 1
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The Independent Online

Most park football sides are never quite sure what their line-up will be until everyone turns up. Ian Martin's men went one better by arriving for their fixture at East Molesey yesterday still uncertain about their name. "Rocks Lane", where this motley collection of engineers, investment bankers, chefs and newsreaders play most weekends, won the post-match vote.

A name was needed after Gill Martin won Lot No 17 – a published report of a match of the bidder's choice – in The Independent's 2007 charity auction. The prize has been claimed only now as her husband and his colleagues rarely play organised fixtures.

It was therefore no surprise that Hook Venturers Veterans, who have been around for 40 years and have won eight of their 11 matches this season, showed the better teamwork and organisation as the rain poured down.

Rocks Lane's football flowed only intermittently, but their spirit was never in doubt and the quality of their back four always kept them in contention. Martin and Simon Beard were solid in central defence, while George Ashford and the BBC journalist Ben Brown blocked Hook's progress down the flanks.

Ashford was outstanding and set up the opening goal. Neither side had taken command in a tentative first half, but a spell of Rocks Lane pressure early in the second was quickly rewarded. Hook's players thought Ashford's corner had gone out of play, but there was no whistle and Beard scored from close range after Mojtaba Baradaran had headed the ball on.

Alex Dai soon went within a whisker of doubling Rocks Lane's lead, but within nine minutes Hook were level, Pete Scally scoring with a fine strike from 10 yards. The winning goal was even better as Andrew Palmer cut in from the left to score with a spectacular dipping shot.

Rocks Lane substitute Alex Gallo went in search of a last-minute equaliser, but Gareth Plunkett, the Hook goalkeeper, clung on to both the ball and the victory with a comfortable save.

Hook Venturers Veterans (4-4-2): Plunkett; Beyer, Fidge, Rowe, Maher; Hollaway, Bluer, Scally, Kane; Smith, Palmer. Substitutes: Richards, Melville.

Rocks Lane (4-4-2): Waylen; Brown, Martin, Beard, Ashford; Dai, Ke, Baradaran, Shengzhen; Marshall, Herbert. Substitutes: Ritchie, Jones, Bhat, Zheng, Gallo, Yue.

Referee: R Brown.

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