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United Push Masters to the Limit
Steve BrownSo the 2018 season kicked off for Doncaster United with a tough opening fixture against Juventus Masters on a chilly Monday evening and with a late kick off time. Legends line up was Janssen in goal, Defensive 4 of Machin, Attwood, Gough & Gulec, midfield of Kearney, Harrison, Boyte & Lamb and Brown & Crompton up front. The bench consisted of Whan, Hassan & Capodistras. The early play was fairly even as both sides probed to find weaknesses and most of the game was played in the middle third. On the occasions when Masters pushed forward on the flanks both Machin and Gulec were up to the task and often they were able to set off counterattacks by releasing Kearney and Lamb out wide. The Masters defence were happy to stand off as Legends pushed forward and this allowed Legends to create some opportunities and on one occasion Boyte and Brown tried to pass their way through the middle but to no avail as they were eventually closed down. Harrison was also seeing a bit of the ball in the middle and some dangerous through balls were only just cut off by Masters. Masters started to see more possession in the forward third and a break down their left saw Ivan surge into the box and lift his shot over the advancing Janssen only for it to fortuitously clip the bar and go over. This was a wake-up call to Legends and they then pushed forward with Lamb setting Brown through on goal on the left but his tame shot was easily gathered by the keeper. Kearney was also finding good space out right with Harrison solid in the middle. Legends were starting to dictate the pace of the game and the increased pressure finally paid off when Masters played a ball straight to Boyte who was set clear 40 metres out, he ran in on goal and coolly slotted it under the keeper to open the scoring. Masters response was swift and they tested the defence with some good interplay and a great challenge by Attwood on the edge of the box averted real danger despite the pleas from Masters for a free kick. Gulec and Gough were also doing dome sterling work on the left of the defence and this was clearly frustrating Masters and the half drew to a close with them trying to con the ref into awarding a free kick. After a very positive half time team talk, Legends took to the field determined to hold onto their slender advantage. With the introduction of Hassan & Capodistras there was a bit more pace in the forward third but it proved difficult to create scoring opportunities. Whan was his usual self with some mesmerising touches (not all of them intended, I think). Masters were gaining the midfield advantage despite the endless running of Boyte in the middle and they began exerting constant pressure on the legends defence with Janssen pulling off many critical one-on-one saves to keep Legends in front. However, eventually the dam was broken and Masters were able to level the game after a defence splitting move saw the keeper exposed once again and unable to prevent the equalising goal. With tiring legs, Legends were finding it difficult to penetrate the solid Masters defence and some tactical changes saw Hassan sitting on the Masters playmaker to try and stifle their forward thrusts. This tactic worked well and allowed Legends to see out the game without any further threat to finish with a very well deserved 1-1 draw.
|MMM||Memorable moment of match – Masters central defender Craig, laying off a perfect pass to Rod Boyte who sauntered into the box and opened the scoring|
|MMM||Muppet moment goes to the Masters player who called for a free kick by claiming that Stu Machin elbowed him.|
|BMW BoP||Rick Janssen in goal who continued his excellent form against Masters by totally frustrating their forwards time after time even to the extent that some of them refused to shake hands at the end of the game.|