Difficulty Breaking Down the Last Brick in the Wall

Syd Barrett’s last words as he heads off to Mad Sunday to enjoy the Jorno’s Castlemaine Retreat

The Charity Round and final match of the season witnessed a healthy crowd at the Park. Was this just the promise of free grog and partners running out of excuses of why they hadn’t supported their loved ones so far this season? Regardless, this was an important League friendly game against a much strengthened Regent – courtesy of Masters. However from what appeared to be an injury prone City pool of 12, the unprompted pre-match team photo shoot meant the Gaffer saw injured/unavailable players return to the fold. Not for the first time this season, he had to adjust his already readjusted plan/starting eleven 5 minutes before kick-off.

After a long arduous season, the game kicked off with good intent demonstrated by both sides. Plenty of running off the ball and keeping of possession meant slow build ups and even some good competitive football skills being executed. But then, as inevitably happens with City, fatigue set in and some wayward passes too often went to the opposition players. [Reminder in the off-season – arrange a group Legend trip to Specsavers!!]

With a couple of goalmouth scrambles saved by Gideon and then Jeremy, the game was a tight one and the crowd seemed happy although baying for a goal. Twenty minutes in and Regent’s fluid forward line produced the goods. Mario’s deep cross from the right wing was perfectly placed on their centre forward’s head to power home from six yards. The first goal of this tight encounter was always going to be decisive and this was no exception.  

Whilst City had a fair amount of possession, the strong resolute and organised Regent defence were not letting us through. This meant few clear cut chances being created by our tightly marked forwards. Our best chance came when the returning Martin played a lovely ball through the inside channel (Gary – I think I’ve got it!) to Ray our midfield charging buffalo. Having already kicked someone in the head in the previous game, Ray was well warmed up and although he did not manage to get a shot away, he did somehow lay the goalkeeper out and gained us a corner for his determined efforts. With two other Regent injuries in this half, not I hasten to add due to ‘the charging buffalo’, their bench was slowly depleting and City gained dominance. Half time came quickly – one nil down, but we were still confident we could do this.

Yet again, another shock from the Gaffer ensued. After a season of hearing “slow the game down” we suddenly were introduced to the concept of “faster, faster” via his team talk. Did we understand it? Could we deliver? Was anyone even listening? Only time would tell.

Unfortunately the second half started in somewhat bizarre fashion. Yes, John M clearly understood the word fast and quickly covered the ground. But for others there was clearly some confusion. Gideon took a quick throw to Rick V who passed a first time ball (well we had to be fast remember) straight back to no other than Glenn – 10 metres away. On bended knee, was Glenn re-enacting Steve H’s recent marriage proposal? No he was SLOWLY tying his shoelaces, totally oblivious to the ball coming his way!! As the ball hit “Glenn the snail”, even the ref found the incident highly amusing and had to consult his rulebook as to what decision should he give.

More importantly though City started probing attacks down the left via the overlapping runs of both Gideon and Maurice. Whilst we were rewarded with more corners and pushed forward on numerous occasions, we could not create any decent goal opportunities. Our attacking mobility and penetration were constantly being stifled by Regent’s well organised defensive wall. The more we pushed forward the more their counterattacking strength exploited our stretched defence.

At first Regent’s/Master’s Ivan was shooting irregularly from the halfway line, in an attempt to catch our resident keeper/sweeper off his goal line. But not having his extra Weetabix this morning, even on the third bounce Ivan’s shots were not reaching our goal. Changing tactics, Ivan then decided to run at us. Such was his pace on one occasion that he went straight past two defenders ending up with a close range one on one chance with Rick J. Even though injured, Rick produced another memorable smother save to keep us in the game.

Two minutes later Ivan tried the same move again. This time he drew players towards him and cleverly slipped the ball to an unmarked player, waiting at the edge of the six yard box. Regent’s Niko gleefully accepted the goal completion task and despite another last ditch save by Rick, his follow up attempt made it 2 – 0 to Regent. 

With time running out and no other options available, the Gaffer pushed Paul E into the centre of midfield and reorganised his defence to a three man back line. This immediately paid dividends. Maurice passed the ball from the left to a marauding Paul E. Even though Emery lost possession at least twice in his dribble, he somehow managed to regain the 50:50 balls and finally broke through Regent’s defensive wall. A shooting opportunity opened up and from a full 20 metres he struck the ball towards goal. With good fortune on his side, the ball looped over the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand, hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced in. We were back in it! 2-1 to Regent and 15 minutes to play. Game on!!

This then led to high risk football and counter attacking opportunities at both ends of the park. In fairness, City probably looked the more likely to score but still the Regent defence stood firm. In an attempt to try something different Maurice even performed his windmill pass to the laughing Paul C watching on. And then with just two minutes to go we thought that we had rescued the game. A copy book three player move ended up with Rick V passing to a well-placed Steve H. Steve had cleverly alluded his marker in the box and firmly struck the ball with a left foot volley. However, with keeper stranded and fortunately for Regent, the shot flew just wide of the goal.

With the final whistle ringing in our ears the game ended 2-1 to Regent and some very tired and disappointed City players trudged off to the bar. Despite this very competitive game, played in an excellent spirit, the winner of the day must be the MND Charity which benefitted considerably by the very generous donation of the Legends sides.

After the season’s efforts where 100+ goals have been scored by 22 Legends, The Gaffer could at last relax, put his feet up and smoke his beloved cigars with his besties!!

Congratulations 2018 Golden Thong Winner – Paul C and Golden Brick Winner – Ray S.

Furthermore and on behalf of all the lads, THANK YOU Gary and Graham for yet another enjoyable season, both on and off the park. Your tireless efforts against all the odds, make you the envy of the league!

MMM Who would possibly play a ball back to someone who was tying his laces? Yes Rick V you fully earned the MMM of the week. But equally Glenn you share the award for not being ready for ‘fast’, two minutes after the half time break.    
BMW BoP Rick J for that outstanding one on one save. Even injured you’ve been doing this all season!!   


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