With the European championships still on, injuries still prevalent and people on holidays it was yet again a threadbare team that rocked up for the game against Loko. Fortunately Lee had decided to put his social life on hold this week, and Aryan Nation Al had gotten off the plane at 10am and that swelled the numbers to a massive thirteen.
Loko had frustrated us last time and we’d only just managed to rescue a draw with a few minutes to go, so it was important we started off brightly, and significantly better than in the last two games. The referee starts the game, and we’re off, and we do indeed start off well, pushing Loko back onto the edge of their area. Sean picks the ball up, turns the man and promptly shoots wide when a better ball might have been to Jonesy or John on the right hand side.
A couple of minutes later and Sean picks the ball up, sucks in a defender and then slips Ronan into the channel, who takes two defenders with him, and then cuts the ball back to Sean who had continued his blisteringly slow run into the box, and it’s a cross/shot that strikes the defender, there’s half a shout of “Handbaaaaaaa….aaargh, maybe not” and then the ref does us a favour and agrees that it was a penalty. Cheers Ref.
John Murray claims the ball and strikes it into the corner past the despairing dive of the keeper. 1 nil. We’re delighted, although feeling a bit sorry for the Loko guy, but nevertheless, we’re in the lead. Loko are naturally, not as delighted as us, and mention it to the referee about three hundred times.
“Tough titties” as my pals used to say back home.
Anyway, the game continues in the same vein as we dominate possession with Paul Hartley having an impressive game in the middle, Ricky running his legs off, Jonesy causing massive problems for the Loko boys and constantly wanting the ball. One of Jonesys trademark balls into the box and Seans on it, falling backwards, hits it first time, but this one goes over the bar. In case you can’t be bothered reading the rest of the report, let me tell you now, Sean’s shooting was crap! Passing when he should have been shooting, and shooting when he should have been passing.
I can’t really remember Loko even having a shot on goal first half, we were dominating so much, but we were having problems shooting, tippy tappy football, and no-one wants to shoot. It’s games like this that fray the nerves when you think you’re on top, but just can’t get the ball in the net. Loko made a couple of good breaks up the centre of the pitch but fortunately their final ball was rubbish, and when it wasn’t Big Al or Tiny Daz were mopping everythingup at the back.
Ronan is then through, and the Loko player just grabs his shirt and pulls him back. Definite yellow card – but seemingly not in this game.
With 10 mins of the first half remaining, there’s a quick ball from Sean to Ronan, who opens up the Loko defence, squares the ball to Dan who finishes with aplomb. 2-0 ! Erm… well it should have been, but the referee squares things up by calling offside when the big fat number 34 was playing Dan on by at least 2 feet – it wasn’t even close. Tough Titties for us this time, but that’s even now.
The half time whistle blows and we head off the pitch to have Billy begging us to shoot more in the second half.
So the second half starts, and Loko push us back straight away. The big Lanky 22, who is by far their best player, (if you’re reading this – come play for us next year) starts to win the ball, he carries it twenty yards, beats three players in the process and then scoops it over the bar. A bit of a let off that one.
Now our positional sense starts to fade as we push forward looking for the second goal to kill the game off and we’re constantly relying on Daz, Al, Peter and Jonesy to keep us on level terms. Ricky is pushed into the middle to try and shore things up, surely one of us will stay and defend…but apparently not as at one point Sean, Paul and Ricky then all hare off after a chance to score, and leave the midfield completely vacant. Sunday footy at it’s best.
Loko make a break down our left and it looks like we could be in trouble, but a sterling challenge from Peter saves the day, he’s come a long way since his debut and ‘those’ throw-ins. Then it’s our turn, Dan lays the ball off to Sean just inside the area and it’s a first time shot – this time straight at the keeper.
Then Paul Hartley carries the ball and shoots wide when passing looked a better option. Then Ronan gets his big chance, a lovely ball from Sean releases Ronan 20 yards from goal with just the keeper to beat and Ronan tries to lob the 6ft 7inch keeper, with predictable results. Maybe we’ll practice that one in training eh lads ? Another chance for Sean who looks to strike the ball, but instead picks up his sand wedge of a right foot and takes 2 inches of dirt first, the ball rolls over the bye line.
Loko start making some changes and the big 22 gets out of Seans pocket (a bit of poetic license for that one) and is taken off. They bring on the worst player in the league in his spot and we start to sense that the game is ours for the taking. Jonesy gets dragged off and Lee is on and has an immediate impact straight away feeding the ball to John Murray who is creating havoc against the hapless right back.
Dan gets the ball with his back to goal, tries to turn and is booted up in the air by the defender who makes absolutely no contact with the ball. Yellow card ? No. Not even a free kick.
Just after that, Dan gets his revenge, a defence splitting ball to John Murray, who whacks the ball at the keeper who sends the ball skywards, but it’s still going towards goal, he stretches again and can only parry it into the net as he ends up in heap with teh ball inside the net. An own goal ? 2-0. Thanks very much. Game Set and Match.
Loko are unhappy enough to then get a man sent off for dissent.
We must give an honourable to mention to Marcel who had, as far as i can remember, Sweet FA to do other than smother one cross, and then be alert enough to stop another cross dropping in at the far post, when a lesser keeper may have misjudged it. And Daz is also proving a revelation at centre back for a little fella.
All in all, not a bad performance considering we’re missing half a team.