In a balmy night at Kings Park Spartans took on KCC Royals in a must win game not only for 3 valuable competition points but also passage to the quarter finals of the cup.
KCC in recent weeks have been stringing a few wins and have created a few upsets along the way including a win against current leaders Hamsap. So this fixtures was always going to be a tricky one especially given the number of resources at hand from the entire KCC Club and the unbeaten run the Dragons are having in Yau Yee Div 1 many of whom play in the Royals.
So a minute silence for the late Gary Speed and kickoff, starting 11 of H in goals, Thomas D on left, Sean on right Mike Marriott and Bertie in centre, David and Rob in the engine room with Lionel and Adam outwide and Hermod and Muzza upfront. On the side line ready to battle was Joe (who was early at venue but late to team announcement), Dan, Nick D and Andy B.
We started off the blocks better and should have really gone one up early doors if not for a terrific save from their keeper from a Rob header. Mike Marriot had a great chance with the next corner but didn’t hit it cleanly. As the half continued we could tell KCC were well organized outfit and were going to be difficult to break down. We created a few good chances with Hermod having the pick of them but they were few and far between.
KCC have the leading goal scorer in the league and it was fairly evident he was going to cause us problems all night. We got slightly lucky with a push by Bertie at the edge of the box which could have been a red and penalty but instead saw a yellow and free kick.
As the battle continued David P had to come off due to injury and we push Marriott in to midfield with Thomas D coming back in centre. 0-0 at the break with the KCC hoard of subs and fans clapping sensing another boil over result over their much fancied opponents.
The second half we failed to get into gear. However our defending was outstanding and they never really had a chance at our goal with only a few tame shots outside box. Bertie and Thomas D along with Sean and Andy B flinging themselves at everything were having cracking games. In midfield Rob and Mike were trying to contain the ever dangerous Luca Merlone who was dictating traffic for KCC. However as the half went on he tired (obviously playing two full games in two days is never easy) and we started to take a bit more control of the game. Nick D setup Andy B but unfortunately the ball skipped away from him. Sean got a yellow for late challenge that saw the game almost boil over while H didn’t take too nicely to being hit late three times by their striker.
With 12 minutes to go the crucial goal came about. It was nice lead up work on the right with Dashti run and putting the ball for Marriott. Who weaved and beat two men before slotting an inch perfect pass to Hermod who slotted home the winner with ice like precision from the Norwegian master.
Muzza had a well earn rest and we played 5 at the centre of the park with Adam helping out in last 10 minutes with much able legs. We still got caught out again on the break at the death when we were 3 against 6, very reminiscent to Monopoly game however some desperate tackling this time from Andy B and Thomas D saw us home.
A grafted out battle hard win that had much more character than finesse or skill. Very tough opponents that no doubt will cause a few more shocks to the teams above. MOM could have gone to anyone in defence who were simple irresistibly outstanding last night. But Bertie get’s the honors edging out Thomas D and Mike Marriott for die hard full of heart display.