It was another bitterly fought but enthralling contest between two finely balanced sides last Saturday. Due to the distractions created by Chen Hong making himself available to be manhandled by the opposition attackers (mind you he has a 3 year old boy!!!), the whites narrowly scraped a 3-2 win over the reds in a game that could have gone either way and the reds probably shading it in the "Shots on goal" statistic!?!?
Looking the stronger team on paper, the Reds got out of the blocks with great confidence, dominance and energy. The attacking trio of Babs, Rainer and Brendan played a high attacking line pressing the White defenders from the get go and forcing numerous defensive mistakes. On two occasions, these forced errors resulted in goals scored by the marauding Red attackers and they established what looked like an unassailable 2-0 lead with only 25 min of the game transpiring??? The Whites could have easily collapsed at this point, the defenders were run ragged and the shape of the team was shambolic. However in typical Saturday GIFFA emotional roller coaster game fashion, the Whites settled their nerves, toughened up their defensive grit and formation; and started to claw their way back into the game... It is worth mentioning that to add fuel to the fire, Whites captain and main source of goal threat had to be withdrawn to play GK for the remainder of the match having pulled a back muscle. Things were looking bleak for the Whites...
Unable to play out of defence effectively, WHites resorted to launching quick long balls to their big target man upfront, Christian who complemented his physical strength and determination with surprisingly twinkle toe touches and visionary one touch layoffs for advancing supporting midfielders. This strategy paid off and eased some pressure off the Whites defence. Slowly but surely, the Whites midfielders Lynz, Mark and Kien began to develop some game empathy with each other and a series of slick one touch short tikki takka style passing movements were created. One such move down the left flank saw a neat back heel from Lynz release Mark on a lunge bursting run which was rounded off with a toe poke finish into the near post of the Reds goal! The score was 2-1 and the momentum started to shift at this point. Further Whites attacking pressure on the reds defence resulted in a corner on the left side. The mercurial Mark launched a perfectly weighted and precise head level ball at christian who delicately glanced it into the bottom corner of the Reds goal for the all important equaliser!!
With the game tied at 2-2 and about 15 min left to play, the game was up for grabs by either side!!! Reds with their superior ball players and physically dominant attackers were plummeting the Whites defence with everything they had. A combination of good luck, great goalkeeping by Fred (who kept clean sheet between the sticks!!!) and rather wasteful finishing by the Reds kept the Whites goal from being violated again for the remainder of the game. There was even a debatable claim for a penalty when Raj appeared to have been bundled over by Kien in the Whites penalty box... however good sportsmanship and sensibility prevailed and the penalty wasn't given (the theatrical nature of Raj's fall would have made Drogba blush even in his prime!?!?!). Nearing the end, a fast break found desmond free on the right flank, he shot venomously at goal but a deflection followed by some really shambolic defending complemented by a huge slice of luck saw the ball trickling across the line. The decisive goal was claimed by Christian i believe.
The saturday encounters are becoming increasingly competitive and unpredictable affairs! I think this is one of the main factors that keep us coming back to play as if we were addicted on heroin every weekend!!! Kudos to the team selectors... we look forward to this coming weekend's Battle Royale!!!