First game of the season, chance to see what we could do in our first ‘competitive’ match, after playing some good football over the previous weeks against top opposition, brought us to Kings Park on a sunny, cloudless hot day.
The plans were all ready, the speech was prepared, everyone looked up for it, except our goalkeeper decided to not turn up & not tell anyone except Tom, there may be reasons for that, which we will go into later, but I’m still confused why he didn’t tell me the previous day, anyway, Bertie steps up & offers to go in goal, while I was planning on a churchillian speech, I have to instead find some gloves & a tight blue top for Bertie & before we know it we are off, with a back 4 of Stef,Ben,Scottie & Olivier, Knowlser, Rick O pulling the strings in the middle, with an attacking 3 of Jeff,Dave,Mehdi & Ashley playing the lone striker together with a strong bench.
We start well, with some good movement & passing down the left with the Stef/Jeff combo bringing some joy & putting Jeff through one on one with the keeper who made a good save, we continued to pressure & further chances fell to Ashley, Mehdi,Jeff & Dave & on another day, we could of been a couple of goals to the good early on.
Dynamo then started to get more of a grip on the game & create a couple of chances for themselves, especially on the break, which perhaps started to put some early season doubts into our minds, which I suppose was expected, together with a combination of the heat, some players having played a very physical, competitive game the previous day & the celebration of Sanj’s Birthday during the evening, a little bit of panic set in & we did not relax & play our style of play we had been over the previous weeks against better opposition, we had to step up, or we could get into a bit of trouble!
Luckily for us, our own Ricky ‘Iniesta" O, has seen it all before, & with a little swivel turn, which would of put my back out for weeks, played a sublime ball through, from a good run for Mehdi to latch onto & finish over the keeper to score our first goal of the season, 1.0 up, & the game had swung back into our favour.
Dynamo lifts the tempo & create’s a couple of chances, but all are off target & no problem to Bertie, we hold out until half time & know were in a game.
A couple of changes @ half time with Andy coming on for Stef, who picked up a dead leg & Dave whose been lashing it up around the world @ various weddings, being replaced by an unexpected secret weapon Tom.
A very strange half time change conversation with the assistant Ref, who was basically chatting up Tom, saying ‘Your a very handsome man", "Yes Yes are you a model?, well in the second half I swear Tom was off-side several times, but no flag to be seen, just a smile & a little sparkle in the assistant Ref’s eyes, his name’s Daryl by the way & i’ll pass your details on, & whenever he’s officiating our games you start & finish every game.
So after feeling a little like ‘Cilla Black’, the second half starts, & the game seems to continue in the same pattern, with us causing problems with our pace with Jeff/Ashley/Mehdi & supermodel Tom & defending well with the movement of Dynamo & keeping our slim lead intact.
An attack from Dynamo stretched us at the back & stretched Ben’s hamstring too, so on came Lionel, to right back with Andy B slotting into center back, we may however be vulnerable to set pieces, but all fears were allayed with Bertie who collected everything & took so much pressure off the back four & was excellent throughout the game.
Matty C came on for our goalscorer Meds to freshen up the right a bit & we basically dug in & fought which was fantastic to see, especially when we were not playing to our full potential, the back four were outstanding with Scottie, playing his first game for a bit & struggling for fitness, still made some terrific challenges, Andy B out of position but excelled when asked to do a the job, Lionel & Olivier on the wings clearing there lines & getting stuck in, & in Olivier case, must of been painful as I did’t realise how bad his shoulder was until I tapped it after the game.
The midfield were working hard to close down attacks & we were always a worry for them on the counter with Andy H, who should of come on a bit earlier, holding the ball up & taking the pressure off the team & creating opportunities for other players & himself, we managed to complete our first game, get the points & start off the season on a winning note.
It wasn’t pretty at times, but the commitment & work when we needed it, the goal, clean sheet are all promising signs going forward, once we get into our groove we are going to give some teams a good spanking & it won’t only be for Daryl’s benefit.
Well done lads.
Clean Sheet: Def&GK