Elite 2 - 2 Olympic
The Sun was shining, wind non-existent, kit freshly laundered and a pitch in great condition. The perfect conditions for football. Our opponent were the Greek gods of football, Olympic United. A little less statue-esque but formidable regardless.
Our start was a little laboured and we struggled to find out feet. Olympic started strong mounting several probing runs, but our defence was up to the challenge using both left feet to clear the ball. It felt like barrage, a never ending wave of pressure. Our chance finally came with a break away down the right side, finding ourselves inside the opponents 18 yard box Turk cut the ball back to Nic but the Olympic defence were having none of that and poked it into their own goal to open our scoring! Not how we'd like it but we'll take it regardless. Then their goalie went down and went off in an early injured substitution.
A little shell shocked Olympic were quick to respond finding an opening down our right side, an overzealous tackle push the ball out for a corner. The ref was having none of that and awarded a free kick 5 meters in. The defence was set and in came the free kick. A whipped in kick, Niall jumped heroically but only managed to get finger tips to the ball as it sailed in the back of the net to equal the score.
The game continued with us finding a little more structure, minimising the opportunities for Olympic whilst making a few incisive runs on their goal. Our best chance came from a corner that was sailing in. Seeing his chance to fly high Angus threw himself trying to put the ball in the back of the net, but only managed to net himself there. Tangled and squirming he was soon cut free.
We managed to hold out Olympic for the remainder of the half most of which was on our side of pitch. A few great saves from Niall and a few close calls saw us out. Absent from the half time talk was CJ's renowned pep talk about how we don't lose to the Greeks but nonetheless we knew what we'd need to do the next half and with a small structure shuffle we were at it again.
Now with 2 guys up front they were making themselves a handful to deal with. Jay was constantly running and using his fancy feet to be a menace. Turk and Clem were combining down the right to create opportunities that were absent earlier in the game. Nik tried his luck at a long range floater that looked like travelling over the goalies head, he just managed to get his hand to it to knock it out for a corner. The corner was whipped in and the whole side line stood poised as the most fantastic kick was performed. Keeping one foot on the ground, Declan kicked the ball over his head and into the net. Demonstrating the results of his weekly Callisthenics routine. We'd dealt Olympic a blow they were not expecting.
The game was on! We had everything to lose now. The defence was fierce putting life and limb on the line as Blake demonstrated with his knee high heading. Rory was unstoppable as Olympics strike was soon to find out. CJ was brutal with his clearances, not caring for friend or foe. We were in this for the win. That was till an unfortunate deflection push the Olympic winger wide and with a pin point accurate cutback and an unmarked striker waiting in the box, the scores were drawn equal once more.
Heads went down but we still had a battle on our hands. We had a point to secure and a victory to chase. Our best chance to push on came when Jay found a little space and was one on one with the keeper. Their defence was tight, a clown on the left and a joker on the right, Jay tried to push it under the fill in keeper but he was up to the challenge.
As the final whistle approached, we nervously defended a few more attacks. Niall came quick and snuffed out their chances. And that is how the game ended. Two apiece and a shared point. Not bad given our opponents but something we know we can improve up on for the return match.
Lots of big efforts today, everyone had their moment to shine. I would award everyone a point for their effort if I could.
3 - Declan. Working extra hard, tonnes of talk ( at least that is what I am told that noise is) and a phenomenal goal.
2 - Blake. One of the hardest working men out there today. Constantly putting in the tough challenges, making himself available for a pass and all this only a week after coming off his bike.
1 - Rory. Probably one of the more solid performances from Rory. Very solid on the left. Lots of good defending and not giving them a chance.