Write up by Turk.
The Elite went into this top-of-the-table match with modest expectations; With always-late Turk responsible for the kit, Kengo shuffling the letters of his name into “K, Gone” and many other players away, it felt best to assume things might not go well against the league’s top team. At stake was the possibility of an Elite victory seeing both teams promoted into the dizzy heights of Cap 5.
But things got off to an unexpectedly fantastic start!
Turkey was early and 100% of the things that were washed were clean *and* dry. Other things that were left hidden at the bottom of the bag… yeah not dry. This upset CJ as he fished out a soaking old keeper top that was supposedly his favourite (I call BS - he just wanted another angle to fine a Turk!).
The warm up was pretty tame for such a big match. No shooting drill was had and no high tempo preparation. Would this be regretted?
The early minutes of the game saw the teams trading jabs and sizing one another up. After 10 mins it was hard to get a read on who the important players might be. And then Tim stepped forward with a right hook to their previously untested jaw! The build up to the goal was efficient as a central ball was controlled by Gav and laid on for an onrushing Tim. From 18 yards he first-time curled low into the bottom right corner, clipping in off the post! It came a bit too early and unexpectedly to generate the kind of celebratory response it warranted but it was a quality strike.
From there concerns grew that we might be on the ropes for a lot of this game holding on to our slim lead. Much of the first half involved us throwing possession away as the low sun blinded us on attack. But as good as their mids and attackers threatened to be they found our defence formidable and any spark was quickly nullified. Angus was a monster getting a head or a toe on all incoming balls. At one point he took a body shot that left him winded when blocking a goal-bound shot, but he was back for more punishment instantly. Dan on one side of him looked far too comfortable for a guy who’d already clocked 90 mins. And Faizulla continued his good form (better every week) by combining determined defending with a genuine attacking threat running out from the back. There were a couple of times where he overlapped and continued his run up the pitch which I don’t think we expected so he never got the ball back, but it’s a real option now we know about it.
Apart from Tim’s goal I think our only other first-half attack was a Tim cross that dropped invitingly for a Rolf Van Persie half-volley that dipped wickedly and skimmed the top of the crossbar. Rolf made a noise that made you think he knew it was a great chance to avoid a nudie run at end of season!
Into the 2nd half and we fortified the defence for another onslaught. The mood of the game was pretty good so far - there wasn’t any real aggro in the 1st half but as the minutes ticked by in the 2nd you could feel tension building. They were frustrated and it only got worse for them :)
CJ made 4 or 5 top saves that kept them out. They were getting quite a lot of shots from the edge of our box but CJ was getting his feet or his guts or anything in the way to repel the threats. He wasn’t getting any peace - the poor guy just wanted to have a nap in the goal to clear his hangover.
So it’s 1-0 and our defence is keeping us in the game when a counter attack opportunity sees Turkey receive the ball at halfway. He sees Tim bombing it down the left and releases an optimistic through-ball for him to chase. Tim turbos ahead of the defence to collect it, takes it wide, looks up and sees the goalie has left his near post empty while anticipating a cross, so he casually slots it into the net from a tight angle! Wow! I loved the goal but I also loved that their keeper was embarrassed - he’d been a thoroughly sh1t bloke all day :p
2-0 to us only increased the tension and Tawa did then find a goal. A long ball from the centre back should have been prevented by Turk and then cut out by Faiz but was just missed and despatched into the corner by their striker, 2-1.
Angus ratcheted up a gear as the opponents turned the screw. One massive tackle at full stretch melted one of their attackers as he prepared to shoot, leaving him clutching an injury but it was a solid fair tackle. To make matters worse for Tawa, Damo came on for some extra niggle, and Rori had gone full beast mode by 2/3 of the game breaking up play in defence and midfield - and even howling in approval at Angus’ mega tackle. But the thing that really upset them was Rori punting a ball into the next field to delay their throw in. Some real hate was generating - in particular from their screw-loose in goal.
Into the last 15mins and all the energy saved from the no-warm up would be drawn upon - a masterstroke by Rori. We had a couple of long shots towards the end, including Tim trying for a magical hat-trick goal from 30+, and Paul Gav-scogine chipping over a defenders head with his left to shoot with his right, but nailed it at the keeper. Gav had a good game and looked at his best when he took extra touches to hold up play.
A mention too for Rahmatulla who had his best match yet - making good tackles on the wing and offering an option to receive the ball. One area for him to focus on is nailing that final pass/cross - keep going and it’ll come. He nearly burst his lungs with a couple of big sprints in the 2nd half including one that ended with a two footed lunge to try stop a ball going out. It was clearly a long-jumping technique he’d picked up from Newtown 1 and I’m betting it caused a mean wedgie.
Every single player put in a shift (oh, forgot to mention Isaac was a WALL in midfield) - it was an epic team win and one to be well proud of. As it transpired we did finish 2nd in the table and are promoted to Div 5. Well done boys!
Hard to choose where to spread the points but :
3: Tim - a very good performance everywhere.
1: Faizulla - good in defence and attack
1: Angus - a monster of ball winning, comms and leading by example
1: Rori pips CJ by a bawhair with his commitment to winning via any method necessary.