After three successive league wins, the 4th placed Whites were brimming with confidence coming into a traditionally tough encounter with the 5th placed Unley. A win for either team would keep us in touch with the top 3, whilst a loss would surely consign us to mid-table mediocrity.
Surprisingly, Steve had a pretty familiar looking squad of 15 coming into the game… Not a single first gamer in the squad. That being said, there were still 7 changes from the previous week!
Glyn returned to goals after a week off, with Kurt joining myself (Saf) in the middle of defence and Bobby and Eddie on the flanks – interestingly Eddie this week playing on the left, with Steve trying to exploit that wing as our area of attack.
The midfield was Saber & Jan in the middle, with James Z and Phil out wide, James B was our target man and Alister sitting just behind him.
After all the rain we’d had, we expected the Unley pitch to be pretty slushy. This was compounded by the fact their 5th team played a game just before us & ensured we had a very difficult surface to play on.
This didn’t deter Steve from his game-plan & nor did it deter the boys, as we immediately took a firm hold of the game, as short passes followed by flowing moves to our wings ensued. James B was getting a lot of the ball up front, but his passes weren’t quite connecting.
He soon made amends though, as a searching run from Eddie down the wing (went past 3 players) resulted in a nice interplay between James & Eddie, before Eddie banged the ball in from about 10 yards!
Not long after we were 2 up, as Phil and Eddie again tore up the left flank before Eddie passed to Saber, who returned the favour for Eddie to score an almost identical goal.
Across the midfield and at the back we’d looked largely untroubled & had been employing Glyn as a sweeping-keeper to good effect.
It came as a shock then to concede a goal just before the break, as their nuggetty forward had space on the wing & his cross somehow drifted into the far post.
This stirred the coach into action as Steve made a double substitution, bringing Jan and Collins on for James Z and Alister.
At half time, Steve was largely happy with the performance. He asked us to keep passing it around & to take on their slow back 4.
Unley though were the first to open the scoring, as a long ball in from left to right found their winger, who was too strong for Phil, bumping him off before slotting home.
The boys though responded well & for the next few minutes we had control of the play. Unley had switched their quickest player to the left (to negate Phil and Eddie), but this also meant that space opened up on the right. Collins exploited this & made a good run down the wing before belting a cross into the box – Phil was there to send it home! 3-2. The boys weren’t done though, as a good piece of play down the left wing ended with Saber. As the Unley boys gave him a little too much space, he curled a shot into the near post goal to give us some breathing space at 4-2.
Now with 8 minutes to go (someone asked the ref), and a 2 goal lead really that should be the end of the match report.. Unfortunately that’s not the case.
From the kick off, Unley broke down the right; Darren was first to the ball but hesitated just long enough for the Unley winger to burst through. The sweeper (me) was caught flat footed, as he skipped past me to belt the ball in & make it 4-3.
Again someone asked how long left – this time Jackie said 2 minutes… again really that should be the end of the match report.. Unfortunately again that’s not the case.
Unley pushed everyone forward & won a corner, which we cleared; the ball was banged in again & cleared again before the ball bobbled out to the edge of the 18 yard box & to one of their better players who scored to make it 4-4.
The match report does end there, with a deflating 4-4 result. In a game that we had control of for all but the last 10 minutes, the draw really did feel like a loss.
A special mention must go to Eddie, who scored his first and second goals for the club in an utterly dominant first half display, and his performance has probably also landed him the highly sought after left back position for the remainder of the season.
The half way mark of the season is next round against a struggling CBC. This is a game we really need to win to shake off the disappointment of last week’s result.