14/05/2008 - Game 6Opposition:
Cold but calm
So this was the game postponed from the ANZAC holiday weekend a few weeks ago. Got the number 1 pitch which was good and was also a first time playing a proper match under floodlights. An official referee turned up which was good. Very rare to get one at this level but apparently the opposition had asked for one and with it being a midweek game, there were no other games on so 1 guy must have volunteered to do it.
Conditions were pretty cold and also damp as it had rained during the day.
Opposition had done worse than us so far so this had to be the day we turned our season around and got back to winning ways. Another loss and we would be well on the way to going straight back down next year to where we have come up from this year.
We were on top from the start, having most of the possession in midfield and creating all the early chances. A few chances came although there was nothing too stressful for the keeper to deal with. About 20 minutes in one of their guys got given a yellow card for repeated shirt pulling. I believe an official yellow card is a $25 fine.
They finally got down our end a couple of times and a couple of speculative shots were seen safely over the bar.
They got a free kick in our half and I heard the ref tell someone that there were 2 minutes to go to half time and I realised I had not actually touched the ball once in the game! All I'd done was fetch it for a couple of goal kicks.
The free kick was launched into the box, and our left back miscued his header, heading it across the box to an open striker 6 yards out. He controlled it with one touch then hit it on the volley and with my outstreched left arm, I got a hand to it and a defender cleared the danger. Probably my save of the season so far. Not too bad for my 1 touch in the half.
So the 2nd half began and immediately they came on the attack. Cross came in from our left and I came to catch above the striker, but looked straight into the floodlights and completely lost it. Had to go with a punch and hope for the best and fortunately I got a decent enough connection on it to have the danger cleared. We started to get back on top and about 10 minutes into the half a long ball was played for my brother to run onto. While my brother is not short, he is also not very bulky. He was up against a Peter Crouch like defender so there's absolutely no way he should ever be out-muscling this guy. But he did and beat him to the ball then got a touch before the keeper to make it 1-0. Pretty good finish and good strength shown. Very pleased for him to get his first goal for a couple of years having played a season at left back last year in the school first 11.
Straight away they started raising a gear. They got a corner which was half cleared and a shot was hit low from the edge of the area. As it came through the crowd I didn't see it until late and managed a excellent stop at full stretch down to my right, parrying it away and the re-gathering the loose ball. A minute later our defence let the ball bounce and a striker ran onto the long ball. I rushed out to the egde of the box, slid in and blocked his shot out for a corner. This one even prompted a hug from the defender who let the ball bounce past him! My Mum who was watching reckons he called me a "magician" when he was subbed off for a breather later on in the 2nd half.
I was having one of those days where everything just went perfectly. Although I'd only touched the ball a handful of times by now, I'd made probably the 3 best saves I'll make all season.
And the best thing was they were making a real contribution coming at 0-0 and 1-0 as opposed to the pointless saves I'd make at 5-0 up last year.
A few minutes later we had a penalty with our striker being brough down after my brother played him in. Up stepped our right winger and I just knew this was going over the bar. He blasts everything and no way he'd play safe and put it in the bottom corner. Our regular penalty taker had missed one in the friendly game I missed last week so decided not to take this one. Now, not only did he put it high and wide of the goal as I expected. It also went over the top of the club rooms behind the pitch. I hear a search party is out looking for the ball as we speak.
So this raised their morale again and quickly they were down our end. Another cross came in from the our left and I made quite a good catch at full stretch which on another day with the ball that wet I possibly would have parried or punched. But today seemed to be my day. So I launched the ball forward, one of our players flicked it on for our striker to run onto. He rounded the keeper and made it 2-0. So now I even had a major hand in a goal too.
A couple of minutes later we were in again. Ball was played into my brother and his shot was deflected and fumbled by the keeper and he tapped in from a yard out for 3-0. Very happy for him to have a couple of goals and make the game safe. A minute later it was almost 4. Absolutely brilliant shot from about 30 yards had the keeper completely beaten. It was in from my hand but cam back of the corner connecting the bar and upright. What a shot.
They did manage to pull one back with about 10 minutes to go. Ball across to an unmarked striker at the far post for a tap in. Pretty disappointed as I really wanted the clean sheet and would have deserved it. But there was a still a nervy 10 minutes to get through. They were really going for it, and I was again called into action making another one-on-one save with about 5 minutes to go. It was a brief touch and the ref signalled a goal kick from his position. Now I'm usually quite honest and at 3-0 I probably would have put my hand up and said I touched it. But with a few minutes to go and 3-1, I didn't want them having another corner so decided to keep quiet and let the official ref call it as he saw it.
There was time to make another save. This time a shot from just outside the box which I had to dive left and turn away for a corner. This one was probably going wide but couldn't take the risk so had to go for it.
Finally the whistle blew for a pleasing 3-1 win.Result:
3-1 WinPersonal Performance:
For Julia, this time it was 'excellent.' One of those days were pretty much every piece of action was a great save. Very pleasing performance and I really enjoyed the game too. Can't remember enjoying a game as much while on the field in recent times. A combination of my brother playing well and scoring the goals and making a defining contribution myself must have done it.
Special mention to the referee too. He was really good, probably the best official one I've ever had. Often when you get them they are either pedantic control freaks who blow the whistle every 30 seconds, or they don't want to blow for anything and just let the game go on without calling the fouls. This guy got it spot on for both sides. When it was a foul, he called it. When there was advantage, he let play go on and he didn't let anyone give him any crap. Really friendly guy off the field too. Obviously he really enjoys refereeing so was happy to volunteer when a midweek game came up.
Also worth mentioning that my brother says every outfield player should be made to play a season in defence sometime in their mid teens as it improves your game so much. He had always been an attacking midfielder or winger until last season when he a played a full season at left back in his high school first 11. It has improved him so much. He is much stronger so he can compete with defenders he couldn't have competed with a couple of years ago. He wins his fair share of headers against bigger players and he's brilliant at dropping deep and winning the ball back in midfield. It really is noticeable how a season in defence at a high level has changed and improved his game as an attacking player.
Note the much longer report when the game was memorable.
Although to be fair it was tonight so it's easier to remember most of it.