Coming off an impressive demolition of Westminster the week before, the Bs were pumped for the game against the Reds.
A work-in-progress Bs had come up against the Reds in pre-season, and matched them pretty well. The main memory being of a team that was big, strong, hard to the ball and able to pass it around – but the second half in that game was dominated by the Whites and it was felt that if the team could hold solid for the first half, then it would be in with a real shot.
The Whites started with largely the same back line as against Westminster, but with Superman partnering this time with Kirsten in the centre (in the absence of Paul K) and Matt Bate slipping in at left back. This back line did its job, massaging the ball around well and holding the line. The movement was good through the midfield – with Alan, George Tan and Titus providing lots of movement and running nice triangles from the defence and out wide where Chris Neale and Ian Routledge were able to exploit a lot of room.
It was an impressive first half display – probably the best half of football all season by the Whites – and the reward came when the whites pushed forward and a ball squeezed out the edge of the penalty box where red-hot-goalscoring-form Juan stopped, propped and guided the ball across the keeper into the bottom far corner. Glory Glory Juan Livore.
Half-time 1-0 and the whites felt pretty good. Perhaps too good.
Second half, and a bit of reshuffling happened with Chris Neale having to be taken off, and Superman pushing forward with Matt Mostak coming on, hoping that the job had been done at the back.
While the second half started OK, though, some sort of, what? – lethargy? overconfidence? – crept in and the Whites seemed to go to sleep for about 15 minutes. Although to give them credit the Reds had come out a lot stronger in the second half, and had begun to really press hard. But the result? A two goal sucker punch.
One movement on the left committed a lot of players from both sides, the ball lofted over them all and bounced in the penalty box, with no one seeming to want to take ownerhsip of it. Next thing a Reds player smacked it with a vicious strike into the top of the net and it was 1-1. Whites visibly dropped heads, and couldnt get composure back.
The next goal came from a mistake, that led to a free kick, which floated to the far post. While Juan seemed to be pushed from behind, there was no call from the ref, and the large Dolf Lundgren lookalike striker had the simplest header from one foot out. 2-1.
From this point on, while it was not exactly champagne stuff, the Whites worked back in the game. What was missing was the passing around the back line, and through the midfield, that had characterised the first half – and there was much debate after the game about what this occurred (changing tactics of the Reds who ushed more numbers forward? or just not enough Whites composure?). Despite this, the Whites fought hard, and carved out a few chances.
Juan Livore sent Superman on a sprint (well the term sprint is perhaps overcooking this goose) with a well placed pass which he did get to before a defender but could only strike straight at the keeper with his left. The best chance also fell to Superman after good work on the wing by Jay P, on as a sub, who sent a peach of a ball to the back post which Superman ran onto, only to have the spread eagled keeper somehow beat it back from point blank range. Amazing. After the game the keeper admitted that he had no idea where the ball was when he’d jumped and it had actually struck him fair in the family jewels – so no goal but at least some damage had been inflicted.
But huff and puff as they might, the slickness was gone, and the Whites couldnt pull back the result. 2-1 final score.
Disappointing result, but the Bs can hold their head up and know that they have the ability to match it with any team if they can make sure they dont fall asleep like they did for 15 minutes in future. Alan Evans man of the match, but overall the midfield with George and Titus in the engine room did very weel for most of the match
Let’s hope we’ve learned our lesson