Ed Balls unveiled an aggressive cuts strategy today - as he left an opponent bloodied in the annual football match between Labour and Lobby journalists.
The shadow chancellor was involved in a nasty clash with Northern Echo hack Rob Merrick as the politicians struggled to overturn a goal deficit at Manchester City's Etihad complex.
Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer come footballer extraordinaire
The pair were contesting a 50-50 ball on the edge of the Lobby penalty area when a stray elbow from Balls left a slash under the reporter's right eye.
Merrick had to leave the pitch for medical treatment as blood covered his shirt - but later returned to be named man-of-the-match.
Rob Merrick of the Lobby Journalists leaves the pitch
After the match Balls, known as a political bruiser, said he hoped Merrick had not sustained any lasting damage.
"I was about to score a brilliant goal in the top right hand corner," he said. "As I steadied myself to shoot Rob came piling in from behind attempting to nick the ball and came off worst."
The Labour team - which featured a host of frontbench stalwarts including Andy Burnham, Jim Murphy and Sadiq Khan - eventually suffered the pain of a 3-1 defeat.
Graeme Demianyk of the Western Morning News opened the scoring by bundling home from close range, before the Financial Times's George Parker doubled the advantage.
But a strike from political aide Dave Hodges sparked a shaky spell from the Lobby, and it took a goal from Matt Dathan of The Times to settle the issue.
It is the second year running the Labour team has been defeated in the conference showdown, which is supported by the Football Association and helps raise funds for charity.