Much like an Agatha Christie novel, F&O matches of late have been filled with drama, mystery and suspense with a dramatic late twist and so it proved again on a freezing night at BACA.
A prompt start meant 9 minutes per keeper and the first half was a tight, tense tussle. Stand out moments were a Wilson rocket which just evaded cross bar and post, whilst Baker struck a fierce left foot drive which hit the angle of cross bar and post before rebounding out.
Skins possibly shaded the first half and had some decent opportunities close to goal but either hit the goal keeper or a defender as Bibs were effective in shielding their goal.
The second half started and it was Bibs who started the brightest and Matt Green had a shot well saved before Wilson surging up from the back hit another screamer which whistled and swerved past Mitchell's mit for 1-0.
The Ivorian keeper made a great save from Tricker to keep the scoreline down to 1-0 and that proved crucial as Brench found room and from 10 yards fired home into the side netting.
1-1 and Bibs were probably the dominant force in this half. Brench made some saves and then with twenty minutes to go the big Iranian went between the sticks and pulled off a series of stunning saves. A greenwood pile driver then a close range header were the stand outs but also a knee to deny Matt Green.
Once back on pitch he then provided a telling contribution as he played a 1-2 with Brenchley from a short corner which allowed the striker time to finish past Lamprell with only three minutes on the clock.
Bibs looked to press but they couldn't get past a well drilled Skins midfield and defence with Ridley putting in some work in the midfield.
MOTM - Neil White - Takes the award by one vote to deny Brenchley. Wilson & Ridley also heavily backed. Not votes from KoW and Tom Green who incur a 3 point disciplinary penalty for abstaining.
Once again a strong bench served F&O well with four experienced heads coming in for (bald), Bahrami, Beebee & Greenwood who all withdrew with an assortment of niggles and injuries.
The night also saw Lamprell once again embrace technology with his fancy dan Apple watch and app which tracked the time and goal scorers on yet another nail biter at BACA.
For once there was an early goal when Hunt's shot went straight through Curry for 1-0. With Dallinger and Ridley bickering like an old married couple it could have been a long night for Bibs as they struggled to get a foot hold in the match.
Curry when back on pitch then went agonisingly close with the goal gaping like a 12 year old youth players arse hole at a Barry Bennell soccer trial.
As expected Brench was likely to be a key man for them tonight and much of their good early work went through him. He eventually wriggled free on 33 minutes and his shot via a small deflection, sped past Whitey in the Skins goal.
1-1 and game on. Both teams traded blows and the half ended evenly.
The second half proved to be a far more open affair as both teams went at it, looking to avoid the dreaded draw.
On 50 minutes a corner eluded Dallinger and Eason with a well guided face, got the ball over the line. Within seconds the game was back level when Green smashed a volley past Harley for 2-2.
The old war horse and fashion retailer had a glorious chance to put Skins back ahead when White squared to him, but his first time shot was sliced wide.
It looked like Skins would pay the ultimate price for this miss when Lamprell dropped his shoulder past Colin who and then drilled home past Wilson in goal. 3-2 and Bibs were looking good to see the game out as we went to the final goal keepers.
It really did look their night when Whitey hit the post. And then moments later Curry went through one on one with Eason but the big man kept up his run of good form between the sticks by saving well.
With only 7 minutes left Ridley committed a foul on Hunt (I think) and the resulting free kick was forced home for Baker's first F&O goal on his 13th cap. 3-3 and both teams were throwing bodies forward with Mitchell & Wilson playing as out and out strikers it seemed. The winner came with 3 minutes to go when White ran clear and finished past Brenchley.
Moments later Tricker had a glorious chance to end the contest but hit the post with a fierce drive.
Lamprell with the Apple Watch called time but Brenchley was in no mood to take this defeat. He started surging out of goal as some players stopped. he made it to halfway but must have run out of puff as he played in his mate Mitchell who had a chance to score his first goal since the days of dial up. Thankfully for Skins Eason saved and Whitey hacked clear, otherwise we may have had a huge controversy.
A highlight of the night for me was Colin trying to pay his subs in Euro's, much to Pete's disgust.
MOTM - Nik 'The Physio' Baker - it was lucky 13 for the top trumps top weight as he played with intelligence and poise and netted the crucial equaliser.
7 heroic lions one stupid boy, to borrow the headline from 98 when Beckham saw red against Argentina in the World Cup.
A nation turned against the future England skipper and one can only help the burning effigies and death threats that tormented the free kick specialist don't spiral out of control for Deen who will have to live with his actions forever as he serves a lifetime ban with no appeal.
Back to the game and it was another dramatic and cold night at BACA as despite uneven numbers the result was in doubt right up to the final whistle.
After Eason made several attempts to change personnel we maintained the line ups, just minus the young idiot.
Bibs despite the numerical disadvantage, more than match their opponents through the first half and maybe shaded it as they retained a disciplined shape and kept the ball surprisingly well.
Eason skipped past a couple of challenges centre field and played the ball into Brench who turned and finished well and the 7 men were ahead.
Rather than just sit back bibs where possible pushed forward and Lamprell after a fine move involving Baker headed just past the post and then Green forced a fine save from (bald)
Skins were having their moments but were kept to long range for the most part. A turn and volley by Bahrami was saved well by the KoW as the half closed out 1-0 to Bibs.
Skins 2nd half response was instant as after several crosses into the danger zone the ball fell to Steve (bald) who finished with aplomb past Brenchley in off the post for 1-1.
Bibs were never really able to dictate terms again although they were still well in the game.
By this stage the constant shuffling of possession between Greenwood & Sandwich Man was begin to tire the gallant Bib lions as Skins dominated possession.
When Bibs did break Virgo was playing brilliantly at the back and he was having a great tussle with Brenchley feeding off scraps for the most part. When he did get free he squared to the KoW who had been working his royal socks off throughout the night. Unfortunately the usually deadly finisher was hitting the corner flag more often than the goal as his trademark finishing eluded him.
With 18 minutes to go Eason went in goal for a double session between the sticks. His first saved was from Beebee as he tipped over for a corner. After that there were several other saves and double saves as he denied Beebee probably more than anyone else but also Wilson, (bald) & Greenwood with a full array of body parts and when needed helped by Lamprell who hacked clear.
With just three minutes to go Greenwood broke the hearts of Bibs fans and players as he just converted a rebound after another Eason save for his 18th strike of the campaign.
The lions came roaring back and when Brenchley took one out of the sky, fell over and still kept going it seemed to galvanise a team if not a nation as Bibs surged forward in numbers. In the end it took two cynical fouls to stop the striker. Could they get a strike at goal, well probably not with Sandwich Man and Greenwood allowing an 8 centimetre gap between them and the ball. Brenchley tried an old Dean Saunders trick playing it against the shins but the move came to nothing and Skins took the victory.
MOTM - The best display of goal keeping since Pat Bonner in Italia 90