Elite 1 - Olympic 1
Last Saturday involved a below par morning in the maimai, so I was eager to return to the theatre of dreams that is Macalister Park. After a downpour on Friday night that any duck hunter would fiend, the pitch surface looked perfect for the impending clash between the fifth and sixth place teams of cap 6. Unlike previous occasions, an uncharacteristically soft top on the rolling hills of pitch number two greeted the lads.
CJ, with many Elite vs Olympic clashes under his belt, pumped the team up with an inspirational pep talk. The effects of the previous night were eliminated and we got underway. The opening 15 minutes saw some of the best football that has graced the pitch this season.
The passing was fluid. Between the backs. Between the midfield. Between the forwards. It could not be faulted. We were moving forward well, with opportunities coming in the form of nicely worked balls to Ross as always. Sitting back a little, Clem was repeatedly dropping some pinpoint bombs over the top of the defence. Adam was unlucky not to score on a number of occasions from these balls, going ever so slightly wide of the goal. One of the highlights of this spell would have to have been Ross’ bicycle kick from 20 yards out, only for it to drop in front of the opposition keeper.
As time went on, we eased back slightly. Our once Barcelona-esque play soon fell away while Patrick was unlucky to have his powerful snap shot stopped. All the while the defence were holding more than adequately. Minimal opportunities came for the opposition, as Dave “De Gea” in the sticks stopped anything coming his way. An incredible dive to the right and an outstretched palm kept Elite in the game. Niall soon blew the whistle to conclude the first half.
We all knew we were very much in the game at half time, with unconverted chances on everyone’s minds.
The opening minutes of the second half could only be described as that of a barrage at our goal. The opposition seemed camped in our half for nearly the opening 10. The odd shot made its way through to Dave who had no difficulties.
However, the corner count was rising with an endless string of them that tested the defence. From that point onwards, we took over and put some good pressure on. Clem, Ross, Patrick and Ants were hounding the back 5 (or was it the whole team?) while the opposition parked the bus. Both teams knew the game was on a knife-edge as we pushed forward and they looked dangerous on counter attack. Soon enough, the opposition striker pounced on an incisive through ball, where it was deftly chipped it over Dave. Despite this, Elite continued to push forward with our heads held high. A flurry of corners put the heat back on Olympic, but their defence remained as hard as the pitch before rain.
Yet another corner was awarded to us sometime late in the 80’s. Crispy stepped up to take it. Straight out of a FIFA game, he nailed a pinpoint low cross that made its way into the mixer. Decs found himself at the near post who flicked it in to the goal for a well-deserved equaliser. The game carried on as it had, with no other real opportunities before the game concluded.
Regardless of the result, we played some good football that we can take into future fixtures. Sharing the points was a fair result for both teams who fought and defended well for most of the match.
Dave - 3 points: great performance with many outstanding saves that no doubt kept us in the match.
Clem - 2 points: Continuously hounded the opposition and made some exceptional balls.
Damo, Ants - 1 point each: Went about their business like troopers with a solid all-round performance.