Goals: Nick W & Cowley
This was a major battle of attrition at a very hot King’s Park. With Briggsy celebrating his departure from Hong Kong, there were always going to be casualties the next day. The squad was already whittled down to bare bones, so when H texted me with some disturbing pictures of his body rash, I knew we were going to struggle to get 11 out on the field. With only minutes before kickoff we only had 11 players and no goalkeeper to be seen.
Flabbo and Paul quickly muster the players together and end up with the following 4-4-2 formation with Nick L in goals, Paul, Bobby, Scottie and Jay in the back, the midfield consisted of Rob, Tom, Jeff and Cowley and Flabbo and Nick W up front. Considering the disorganized mayhem at the start, we actually started off very brightly and were soon pressuring the ANP backline. Cowley was lively on the right and Nick was using his pace well to cause problems to the ANP back line. Rob goes close but is denied by the woodwork, soon after Nick gets away from his marker and calmly slots the ball home. 1:0. We continue to attack ANP and from a set play Rob rockets a shot goal bound, only to see a player on the line clear the ball (unlike the Juan Mata NO GOAL!!!) it ricochets to Cowley who thumps the ball home. We have further chances with Tom, Nick and Flabbo all coming close. HT: 2-0.
Having completed an Action Asia event in the morning Cowley is now exhausted, but glad to see that Rick Man has shown up. Rick replaces Cowley at right wing.
Understandably, we start the second half a little sluggish and that gives ANP some hope. They get a chance early on, but Nick saves well with his legs. At the other end we continue to pepper the ANP goal and are unlucky not to extend the lead. The ANP players are also getting more physical and Tom is constantly getting his ankles kicked every time he gets the ball. The defence had stood firm all day, but finally ANP break and get a one-on-one situation, which the striker converts to make it 2-1. Now with renewed vigor, ANP threw everything at us. Sanju finally arrives with 20 minutes to go, but we decide not to use him. Flabbo then finds Nick free in the box, unfortunately his first time effort smacks against the crossbar. However, somehow with everyone completely exhausted we play out the final 15 minutes. FT: 2-1.
If only we had shown some of this fight and determination at some crucial times, we would be up there vying for promotion. I can’t express how well everyone played. This was certainly a fantastic overall team effort against a lively and young ANP outfit. The back four were immense and countered many ANP attacks with controlled ease. Rob (also carrying an injury) and Jeff at center midfield battled throughout. Tom and Cowley, with Rick in the second half gave their all and provided great support for the front two. Nick ran his socks off all day long and was unlucky not to add to his goal tally. I’d like to say a big thank you to young Nick for stepping in between the posts. Fantastic effort. Anyway, my MOTM: the 12 who showed up and played like true Spartans.
We have two more games left and although mathematically we could still get second place (assuming other teams phuque up).