With 20 names on the roster (5 of the them 50:50) it was disappointing to only have 11 players – seems the cold weather, rain and early start induced sudden illness in lots of players.
Starting line up of Andy back in goal, 4:4:2 left-to-right – George, Henry, Colin, Hao, Ed, newbie Andrew, Tom, Chi, Jeff Terry.
5 mins in they won a free kick, cleared out to the edge of the box however the follow up shot went straight in the right corner. 1-nil down.
The balance of the half was a tight affair both teams struggled to pass the ball around given the state of the "pitch", Xi Li relied on breaking down the wings with long balls however our back four held tight and Andy was not tested much, when long balls did break through Andy was off his line to mop up.
We had couple of close attempts:
Andy picked up a long ball rolled out to Henry and the ball was slickly passed from Henry to Tom, Ed, back to Tom nice through ball down the wing which was put out for a through in, passed into the box by Jeff (or Ed) and cleared to the edge of the box however Tom’s volley went over.
Shortly after Jeff was cynically taken out down the wing from the resultant cleared free kick Henry chip in box to Andrew however his shot went narrowly wide that was followed by another chip from Henry to Jeff who headed on to Terry to shoot.
A switch with Terry going left back and George up top for the last 15 mins of the half.
The second half continued in a similar vein with neither side having getting many chances however as the half wore on the opposition resorted to long balls and time wasting, 10 mins to go and Xi Li grabbed a second when the got in the box down the left. however we continued to press and after a quick break Chi was unmarked running towards the edge of the box and let fly with his trademark outside of the boot, all the Spartans new exactly where the ball was going however Xi Li defence and keeper were totally wrong footed and looked on in disbelief as the ball flew into the back of the net.
5 mins of normal time and were we right back in it. A corner won, floated in near the goal and Jeff headed down to the goal line unfortunately their keeper pulled off an amazing save.
As the ref turned up late and the pitch time was up we only played 2mins of extra time and that was that.
This match was there for the taking if we had some subs I don’t doubt it would have made the difference, we are now 6th in the league, 10 points off 3rd spot having played 1 match more, as such promotion is pretty much impossible so we will concentrate our efforts on the cup.
I have complained to the league about the lack of extra time, the ref arriving late and the lineman writing his shopping list and not watching the match, a replay would be nice but highly unlikely.
MOM: by far and away Jeff who was everywhere on the pitch fighting for every ball one of his best games in a long time.
Mug of the Match: a close call between Cowley for organising a run somewhere and taking along Spartans players and potentially shared amongst those that cried off at the last minute – however Cowley edges everyone else out.
Yellow card: Terry