Spartans cemented their place as the in-form team to beat by winning at the Football Club for the first time in 18 months to progress to the next round of the cup.
The team lined up with Romain behind a defensive quartet of Grayland, in an unfamiliar left-back berth, Ted at right-back, and Lars alongside the 37 year old, 95 kilo Eneko. Sam and Crossy occupied their regular CM slots with Lozza and Balka out wide. Ed Tizard, and the ever flamboyant Keefe up front.
Spartans entered this cup tie feeling quietly confident despite being regarded as underdogs. The confidence improved further at the starting whistle, with the alleged underdogs starting brighter than their HKFC opposition who must have been surprised by the quality of Spartan’s play. It could have been the Lemon and Orange Lucozade shrine which was the latest addition to the Spartans Team with Nick Day supplying a 12 multi pack (HK$70 from the local Wellcome); the isotonic drink created by sports people for sports people. The Spartans eat and sleep football but they drink Lucozade.
In the opening twenty minutes, the statisticians were out in full force; evergreen turbo-nerd Nick Day on shot count duty, registering four shots on goal to Albion’s one, in a period where Albion were quite honestly pegged in.
Spartans had Crossy, Grayland, Keefe and Ed testing the keeper as the HKFC goal was peppered. The Albion manager turned salty, shouting irate instructions at his team, which largely proved to be foolish instructions to lump the ball into the Spartan box, despite the combined height of our back four exceeding well over 28 feet.
As the first half drew to a close, another Spartan attack resulted in Keefe taking a touch away from the defender… and we all knew what was coming next. With the grace and poise of Tom Daly, Keefe threw his arms into the air, squealed and went down. “ If a man touches anywhere on my body, I’m going down on him every time ” MK was quoted in the tunnel at half-time. Either way, there was definite contact; Keefe made a meal of it, which Ed gobbled up; snaffling the ball to slot in the resulting penalty and send Spartans in 1-0 up at half-time.
Delicious! HT: Club Albion 0 – 1 Spartans
Spartans were aware that we’d been here before. A goal up at half-time vs Colts a few weeks ago, only to find themselves 2-1 down within 5 mins of the restart. The same mistakes weren’t gonna be made this time, and the HT team talk was one of positivity and continuance. The shot count was up to eight and Day predicted that if we had another eight shots and scored all eight, we would have nine goals. The team left Nick counting his fingers and went back out with fire in their loins, in particular Grayland who hit his four year anniversary since last wearing a condom. “ Condoms are for gays and lepers ” Grayland winced as he went for his half-time piss.
The second half resumed, and so did the performance. Lozza was continuing his fine run of form rinsing full backs, and Spartans were carving out corners and chances and more corners and more chances. Sam and Crossy were working beyond themselves keeping the Albion midfield-trio quiet, and it was a Crossy through ball that led to the killer second goal. Seeing Laurie Bear steaming down the left in tons of space, Crossy picked out a ball straight down the middle. Some dithering from the centre-halves allowed Keefe to race through, and a half-hearted attempt from the keeper wasn’t enough to keep Matt’s dainty ballerina-toe from nipping the ball past him, and leaving him an easy chance to roll into the empty net. Two-nil and much deserved daylight between the teams.
A point in the last game vs Albion, followed by a 2-0 lead today – the moons were changing; but it was what happened next that entered twilight zone territory. The ball broke again for Spartans through the middle with some nice interplay. Tizard managed to nudge past a couple of defenders before passing the ball to Keefe. Yes, you just read that correctly! Disbelief all around as Keefe received the ball.
Ed, clearly pissed off with himself having not realised who it was, and Keefe were locked in a stare off as both tried to figure out what just happened. The gaze lasted long enough for the recovering Albion defender to make a last ditch tackle – much to the relief of Ed who now had a reason to never pass to him again.
In other news, Lars was keen to end his last game with a bang – and with the win looming, he decided it wasn’t enough for him and he banged into their attacker earning himself loads of hard-man points and a yellow card. Nice one lad.
Rui and Oli came on to close out the game and take the (little) pressure off Spartans. OM was trying to shake his reputation of going out boozing every week, and very nearly got away with it until being upended in the corner when a can of Blue Girl and two stray dice fell out of his shorts.
In the closing moments, Lars caught another Albion player in a tackle and was red carded. Was it worthy of a second yellow? Was it Lars actually receiving the card amidst the melee? Either way Spartans pick up HK$ 500 fine which looked likely to jeopardise the new Lucozade Lemon and Orange Scheme that Day had recently rolled out. Nick was quick to douse speculation that the new scheme was in fact a comical play on words to summarise his current Managerial Role as a complete Lemon, stating in a press conference that “ no one in the squad comes even close to being an orange – except maybe Eneko who could be a Spanish Blood Orange ”.
The final seconds ticked out, with the only remaining highlights seeing Chris Grayland being kicked into the air, and Matt Keefe getting called a Scouse chav. Great banter.
FT: Club Albion 0 – 2 Spartans ( Tizard, Keefe )
There was talk before the game of a big result today turning a decent start to the season, into a good one – and Spartans delivered. The decision to change the Christmas social proved inspired, with Spartans slaying the Dragons the week earlier after the heavy social, and the early night on the most recent Saturday leaving the team fresh to defeat Albion on their own turf.
A final league fixture of the calendar year leaves a semi-depleted squad needing to overcome a poor French Kiss team. A win will really cement a great start to the season, with everyone genuinely fearing drawing Spartans in the Cup and facing us in the league – including runaway league leaders, Wanderers.
We’re Spartans. We’re gonna win the cup. And now you’re gonna believe us.
Man of the Match: Eneko Goya
Dick of the Day: Ed Tizard
Tom Glen Award: Romain Levaire
Romain’s Fashion Corner: Balka – fully jet black attire complete with film-star rims