Spartan’s showed their mettle and started 2017 unbeaten with a determined performance against a Colloids side who lacked quality.
Spartans lined up with familiar custodian, Romain, with a back 3 of Manc-spitter Lozza, Eneko and Tom Glen – who was very uncharacteristically late. Mr Consistency’s New Year’s resolution; clearly to let his standards slip. Flanking them were unintelligible Scot Stu on the right, with OM
down the left. A packed midfield had soon-to-be veteran Nick Day in the holding role – an old head on… an old body. In front of him, Danny and recent signing Matt Cross.
Colin – and his bird – appeared for the first time in months (rumours: on the basis that Rob wasn’t going to be there), and former USRC marquee signing, Mani completed the line-up as the two strikers. Christian started on the bench, along with Ted – who was there in body having failed to retrieve
his head which fell off in Lan Kwai Fong approximately 12 hours earlier. Club captain Rob was present-but-sidelined with a chronic wrist injury – must have been a lonely Xmas – and club top scorer Matt Queef on hols.
The tardy arrival of many of the Spartans was matched on the pitch in the opening exchanges, with sloppy errors giving the ball to Gimpoids who created a couple of half chances; a warning this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
As Spartans grew into the game, despite the clear lack of quality in the opposition, they proved to be tough to break down. For all of Spartans first half possession, very few chances came and went. Good endeavour from both flanks brought about dangerous looking corners, but speculative free kicks and wayward shots were the story of the first half. The closest either team
came to opening the scoring was an OM shot from the edge of the box which screwed past the post.
The early hesitancy which allowed Cockoids a sight of goal on a couple of occasions was now a distant memory – keeper Romain barely dirtying his gloves in the first half – but this was not a half to be pleased with.
Knoboids went in at the break delighted with a draw – which was testament to how poor they actually are, and reflection of how far we had been dragged down to their level. Manager Nick Day was astute enough to keep his cool at half time and reshuffled for the second half – dropping himself into the LB position. Crossy was moved to his favourite position; more advanced with two men coming behind him – this time in the form of ginger duo Lozza and
Danny. Mani, of previous USRC fame, now up top with Oli and disco-feet Colin out wide.
The second half began in a much more positive manner. Use of the pitch’s width stretched Mongoids, resulting in the warming of the keeper’s gloves for the first time – Loz fizzing a left footed shot which was parried wide. Matt Cross – of the industrial UK city of Birmingham – also showed his keen interest in blacksmithery by testing the iron frames of the fences above and
behind the goal on a number of occasions.
The introduction of Christian to the game marked a turning point when Spartans had a few more outright chances, culminating in the game’s true bit of quality finally arriving. An exchange down the right flank landed the ball at Danny’s feet. It was a bouncing opportunity to good to pass up and he fizzed a rising drive into the top right hand corner. A contender for goal of the season
and had it been caught on film Danny would undoubtedly be HK$ 500 and a case of beer richer.
Despite the opposition’s lack of quality, it wasn’t all quite plain sailing. Some desperate defending resulted in a couple of needless corners and throw ins launched into the box, which were scrappily, but effectively, cleared.
A final chance from Spartans was forthcoming on the break from one such clearance, with Mani sprinting clear of the last man, only to find his deflected effort cleared inches off the line. The chance could have sealed the game but instead proved to be the catalyst for a nervy last 5 mins.
After a quiet game, Romain passed his concentration test with flying colours. A ropey offside call allowed Spackoids through on goal, but the much under-tested Romain stood strong and parried the shot away. An excellent block from the referee prevented embarrassment – not from an equaliser, but the fact the attempted shot was heading high, wide and not so handsome.
Among this, there was still time for Saturday night hero Ted to come on and rake someone’s thigh within 30 seconds – with his foot this time, rather than his wandering hands – his punishment coming in the form of a yellow card, rather than the usual squeal and slap in the face. Excellent work Woodsy.
Full time: Spartans 1 – 0 Colloids
Truth told this was a largely uneventful and uninspiring game. In a season that started with such promise, the last few weeks had been tough to stomach, so the result is a welcome one. Winning is always a great feeling, irrespective of how it’s earned, and will hopefully kicks start 2017 with the winning mentality in which the season started with.
If there is anything the first half of the season has proved, it is that we can mix it and compete with anyone. In today’s case, Spartan’s underperformed; however grinding out a result on the back of a Christmas hangover is a sign of good character – and we have plenty of good characters.
FINALLY, don’t forget Wednesday @ Happy Valley for plenty of horsing around.
Man of the Match: Danny Brown
Dick of the Day: Nick ‘Ted’ Woods – Turning up late, subbed on, booked in 30secs
Tom Glen Award: Stu Pollock
Romain Fashion Corner: Casual – blue jeans offset by timeless leather jacket. Baby blue high tops with gold trim for those subtle seasonal winter tones
OM Racing Post Tip: 7.15 PRECISIONCRAFTSMAN / 8.15 FORMULA GALORE / 10.15 PHOTON