Another Game of Two Halves

(AKA: “ if we thought it was hard to score first half – wait for the 2nd half”)

John Motson and Jimmy (Chinner) Hill

The first challenge of the night was retaining the carefully nurtured and fragile psychological state of the City team as they rocked up to Park Avenue to find the cheeky opposition had camped all night to secure the “home” change rooms and throw a spanner in the game plan for City.

But the boys in blue were un-phased and eagerly familiarised themselves with the new abode as they settled into pre-match banter.

City took to the field with a line up of Attwood, Park, Starfrace, Stock, Gough, Sciola, Singh, Brown, Harrison (who had secure a pass-out from his new domestic duties), Moore, Whan, Jenkins Jnr, Caridi and Sims .

Note and disclaimer courtesy of our illustrious legal sponsor :  The following narrative excludes names to protect the guilty.

The redacted elements include :

S. Har_______son

P. __ridi

M. ___s

_. _ro__

The 1st half started with City stamping their authority in midfield and before long there were 2 well crafted chances that nearly resulted in goals. The radar was switched on (really?) and City attackers were hungry (and remained in a state of severe malnutrition all game).

The signs were good with an increased level of creativity in the final 3rd to provide opportunities which were not converted but kept the Beauy side under the pump.

Then against the run of play, a burst from the Beauy striker resulted from a poorly conceded turnover had the City defence flat-footed. The striker took full advantage and the final 1 on 1 with the keeper did not worry him.

1-0 and City wondering what had happened.

The game resumed and City kept pressing.  Another 2 chances soon materialised but a header wide and a shot saved kept City scoreless.

At the other end, the back 4 kept their heads and Park’s vision and calm control of the defence and swift transition thru’ Moore and Sciola kept much of the possession in the Beaumaris half.

The half time whistle came and the team looked up for a positive performance 2nd half still scratching their heads about how the score line remained 1-0 against. 

So the 2nd half started and up-beat pressure from City continued the foray on the Beauy goal.

Once again, good attacking moves down the flanks with dangerous crosses were common and a multitude of shots, headers, challenges and speccies did not hit the onion bag.

Finally a stroke of genius from City – firing in a corner that:

  1. was in the air
  2. avoided the mass of defenders
  3. managed to get well into the penalty area

Harrison positioned himself well and got his right boot onto the ball resulting in a deft flick flying passed the keeper into the net.

A well-deserved equaliser 1-1

With renewed vigour, the City boys pressed harder and secured a free kick on the edge.

Parks stepped up and knocked in a swerving shot that beat everyone but the bar.

By this stage all the City attack line were sniffing for goals.

Suffice to say the killer last touches from inside the 6 yard box were missing in action with posts, keepers and cross bars coming to the rescue for Beaumaris.

City did everything but score – many chances were created but luck and clinical finishing were absent on the night.

Any other game could have been a 5-0 win – but football can be a funny game.

The “woodwork” was the loser tonight – with a hefty repair bill for the bent cross bar resulting from the “nearly goal” from 2 metres out from our illustrious striker (sergeant someone?)

On the bright side – securing a point and getting something from the game was good and the way City created chances was very positive. 

Muppet Moment(s) – Can’t split the difference Pauli and Brownie for missing when it was easier to score! 

BOP – Can’t split the difference – Martin Park and Johnny Moore – class! 

Memorable Moment – From my biased position , some banter between the ref and City keeper about getting the ball back from the corner flag for a goal kick whilst busy helping Maurice work out what position he was supposed to be playing in. This was the ref who was very happy actually taking a kick off himself and taking a corner in a previous game (so he can go and fetch the F___king ball himself if he likes it that much).

Back to the Business of Football

Steve Brown

With all the off field dramas being put to the side United rocked up to take on high flying Alphington on a Saturday afternoon with welcome returns after long lay-offs for Singh, and McLoughlin (maybe not so welcome).

United lined up with McCulloch in goal McLoughlin, Gough, Attwood and Whan in defence, Marcus, Stock, Shaw & Jenkins in midfield and Sims & Singh up front with the solitary Brown on the bench.

United almost made the perfect start when Sims dispossessed a defender in the first minute and set off for goal. As the keeper came off his line Sims chipped the ball over him and it seemed destined for the back of the net but unfortunately the ball came off the inside of the post and was cleared to safety.

This seemed to wake Alphington up and they started to spend more time in their forward third, however they were struggling to break down the resolute Utd defence although Whan did give away a free kick in a dangerous position by sliding in to a tackle but the opportunity was scorned.

Just as it seemed that United had weathered the storm a tame cross ball into the box was met by McLoughlin whose attempt at a long up field clearance went horribly wrong with the ball ballooning off his shin, spinning high in the air toward the goal and sneaking just under the bar in the postage stamp corner for his second own goal of the season and giving the lead to Alphington.

This unfortunate incident only spurred United on and from the next attack a Jenkins shot from the edge of the box was parried by the keeper and first to react was Singh who prodded the ball into the middle of the box and Sims was there to bang home the equalizer.

Alphington, suddenly realizing that they were in a game, upped the pace and pushed forward once more and were lucky to regain the lead when a dangerous cross was cleared by Attwood to McLoughlin who in trying to make up for his earlier error was dispossessed on the edge of the box and a good strike found the back of the net.

Worse was to come when Whan replicated his sliding tackle but this time inside the box with the referee rightly awarding a penalty. The well struck spot kick was brilliantly saved by a diving McCulloch and it looked like the danger was over for the half but another cross into the box was met on the volley and although McCulloch got his hands to the shot he couldn’t hold on and the ball squirmed over the line for a 3-1 lead to Alphington at half time.

A good robust discussion at half time on structures and keeping play simple saw United step out determined to make a better fist of the second half. To a great extent United managed to limit Alphington to control of the midfield but with Marcus going off injured it meant that there was no opportunity to bring on fresh legs or have a breather and as the half wore on United found themselves defending deeper and deeper.

A fantastic back to the walls performance with Shaw rock solid in front of the back four and McCulloch having some fine saves meant United were able to keep Alphington limited to only one more goal in the game with the final result being a 4-1 loss.

The manner in which this game was played (and reffed) is exactly what the Over 55s league is all about. Two teams playing hard but fair with the referee in total control and lots of banter between the teams rounded off with a beer or two afterwards – let’s make this the norm.

MMM Memorable Moment – Maurice Sims almost scoring directly from the opposition kick off
MMM Muppet Moment – the returning Stuart McLoughlin continues to excel in the manner that he scores own goals
BMW BoP Although conceding 4 goals – our elder statesman John McCulloch saved a penalty and had a few other top class saves

 

Chances Galore…………but no Glory

Steve Brown

Another Monday evening at Park Avenue with United still searching for their 2nd win playing Endeavour Hills. United lined up with McCulloch in goal, Gulec, Gough, Attwood and Whan in defence, Moore, Sciola, Shaw & Jenkins in midfield and Brown & Boyte up front with Lamb and Sims on the bench.

Unfortunately for United the same story that’s been happening all season played out again by conceding a very soft goal early in the match with indecision in the defence allowing the striker to tap home from a very acute angle.

Chances were created at the other end with a Boyte shot deflected over bar and then long range efforts from Jenkins, Sciola & Sims failing to trouble the keeper.  Another ball played into the box just missed Sciola who was on his own at the back post.

The only other scare for United in the first half resulted in a mad goalmouth scramble where the ball pinged all over the box for 30 seconds before being gratefully hoofed over the half way line without the goal being breached again resulting in a half time score of 1-0 down but United definitely in the game.

The 2nd Half saw United taking the game right to the opposition and the attacks flowed right from start with a succession of 3 corners which caused panic but United were unable to get clean shot on target.

Against the run of play another 2 soft goals were conceded which knocked the wind out of United’s sails, however they persevered and continued to attack with Brown heading over an open goal after Jenkins floated the ball in from the keepers poor clearance and then Moore played in a beautiful cross perfectly to Sciola whose powerful downward header was just the wrong side of the post.

And then, another defensive mix up saw a 4th goal conceded but a late consolation came from Sciola which was just reward for all of his running.

Another disappointing night at the office ending with a 4-1 loss.

MMM The pinball action in the Utd box just before half time
MMM Muppet Moment – the 2 soft goals in the 2nd half which killed our chances
BMW BoP Mario Sciola for his endless running and getting himself into goal scoring positions, finally being rewarded at the end.

Oh What a Night

Steve Brown

Another Monday evening at Park Avenue with United still searching for their 2nd win playing Juventus Ashburtold Boys.

Dramas to be had before the game even commenced with Rathner ensuring he got an early mention in the match report by completing a half somersault in the changing rooms and ending up on his arse and Gulec being transferred to the opposition for turning up late and after the team had been announced. United lined up with McCulloch in goal, Coard, Gough, Attwood and Whan in defence, Moore, Sciola, Stock & Marcus in midfield and Brown & Boyte up front with Rathner, Lamb and Sims on the bench.

As has been the case so often this season United started slow and flat footed and an easy goal was conceded very early into the match. However, to their credit, the heads refused to drop and some good possession football saw them claw their way back into the game and Sims saw his shot from outside the box tipped over the bar. However, the resulting corner was scrambled clear and somehow the ball found its way to Ivan (why was he even on the pitch?) who ran for 20 metres before lobbing McCulloch perfectly to double the score.

Undeterred by this setback, United continued to play controlled football and Sims played a ball into the box which saw Boyte beat his man and as he was about to bear in on goal Brown snuck in to take the ball off his toes and buried it under the keeper to make it 2-1.

A free kick was awarded to Old Boys when Hassan simulated on the edge of the box under pressure from Whan. This incensed Eddie who debated hotly with the ref and at one stage his arms looked like a propeller preparing for take off. However, the free kick came to nothing and it stayed 2-1 at half time.

The 2nd half saw United continuing their forward dominance and it looked like they were going to reap the rewards when a penalty was awarded for a dubious hand ball. Brown, wisely chose to defer this time and handed the ball to Sciola – much to the disgust of Sims and the joy of Ivan who chose to don the keepers gloves (without changing shirt). He successfully managed to put Sciola off and the penalty kick was pushed away and in the ensuing scramble Ivan managed to pluck the ball out of the air – which should have resulted in another penalty, but was overlooked in all the mayhem.

This incident clearly spurred United on and the attacking moves continued and eventually United were rewarded when a Sims effort from outside the box was spilled by the keeper and Brown was first to react to tap the ball home to draw the game level at 2-2. United could sense that the game was there for the taking and another attack was broken up by the keeper  but his clearance fell to Moore on the edge of the box who stroked the ball beautifully into the unguarded net to give United a 3-2 lead.

It looked to be plain sailing from here on in as the Old Boys started to bicker amongst themselves and Gulec almost added to their misery as his pass back to the keeper almost crept over the line. However, from nowhere Old Boys conjured up a 3rd goal and almost regained the lead but were denied by McCulloch diving full length to tip a goal bound shot round the post.

As the game crept into the final few minutes United were awarded a free kick just outside of the box which saw Sciola, Gough and Attwood all standing over the ball in deep discussion. A simple training ground move was elected and Sciola was to lay the ball off to the left and Attwood would unleash a shot on goal. Unfortunately, as Sciola was facing Attwood it meant that when he laid it off it went to Attwood’s right. However, the ever alert Gough was on hand to stroll up and place the ball perfectly into the top corner to give United a 4-3 lead. Thankfully, the drama was over and United were able to claim their 2nd victory of the season.

 

MMM Ivan for his antics with the penalty and also the referee for actually taking the kick off for Old Boys in the 2nd half.
MMM John McCulloch’s full length diving stop to keep us in the game.
BMW BoP Steve Gough was a pillar in defence and he made many saving tackles but his Sublime finish to the free kick topped the lot.