Tough Morning at the Office

 Reporter  – Graham Attwood

A Sunday morning game for the United Team obviously doesn’t suit the bio-rhythms of the reds. Maybe it was the remnants of the night before beverages or maybe just the concept of putting one foot in front of the other towards the opposition goal that injects a sense of “shock and awe”.

Anyway – the weather held up OK and it was better than laying in bed or something?!

So a social gathering was held before KO at the centre circle with both teams ensuring the spirit of the game remained victorious regardless of the final result.

Also a pitch inspection identified a massive trench about 47 cm deep adjacent to the “drop-in” cricket pitch across the centre of the field. After full consultation and distribution of crampons, climbing axes and shovels, the game started.

The starting line-up needed to call up a couple of ALL – stars from the City squad due to injuries and the reds took to the field with McCulloch, Gough, Rathner, Coard, Stock, Harrison, M. Jenkins, Boyte, Gulec, Brown and Sciola (Sims, Marcius and Whan on the bench) with Wimp/Coach/“poor little toe”  Attwood calling the shots from the touchline.

(Note from Reporter:  during the post-match analysis, it was decided to limit the narrative to the really good parts of the game from Utd perspective – hence the brevity of the report!!!!)

Ashburton attacked form the first minute and pushed hard into the Utd half.

In the first 5 minutes, the Utd defence looked out of shape and our Veteran keeper made 2 vital saves to stop a full-on onslaught.

But yet another long ball from the Ashes penetrated the defence and led to a simple shot and the first (of many) goals. 1-0

Utd looked to settle down a little and play the ball to feet. A neat LHS attack through Harrison and Jenkins released the latter into some space and a decent shot from Jenkins went wide.

Was this the turnaround? Alas not!

In the blink of an eye, the Utd defence and structure disintegrated and despite several offside appeals, the Yellows continued their out and out attack slicing through the defence as if they were not there.  It was 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 within 20 minutes and the heads started to go down.

Did some of the players wish they were still at church praying rather than “enjoying” their Sunday workout?  Answer –Yes

But then at the 40 minute mark Utd had one of their more attractive spells with a snap shot from Mario that cause their keeper to put gloves on the ball.

Then Rod also had a shot that journeyed wide.

Things were looking up – but then more average defending let in Ashburton who banged in 2 shots in quick succession which big John managed to block, the second shot forcing a great tip-over.

Half time – 4-0 down but it could have been a lot more if it wasn’t for JMc keeping the score within grasp of a possible come-back.

The half time motivational talk was truly inspirational! The Coach gently pointing out the slight tweaks necessary to instil a sense of “we can do this”

Key points:

  • “If you’re too tired to run back and defend – I’ll sub you”
  • “Get back to basics you prima-donnas”
  • “Quit the fancy shit – you’re not good enough”
  • “Go up the guts with the big donkey hoof”

With such invigorating talk – the 2nd half commenced with the significant advantage of running downhill.

Michael Jenkins had obviously taken on board the modified game plan and within a minute of the restart secured some space at 20 yards out and unleashed a fierce shot that sort of made it to the by line.

A great start – but then – you’ve guessed it, a decisive Ashburton attack playing down the inside channel (again) releasing their striker who coolly buried the ball 5-0.

By this time Dr. Marcus had seen enough and went on a roaming run out of midfield. He managed to get off a shot which again caused their keeper to take action. The other shot (of adrenalin from his secret medical stash) must have kicked in.

But the match returned to it’s predictable trend and unfortunately a further Ashburton push gave away another goal 6-0.

By this time you could be forgiven in thinking the Utd team would capitulate but no!!

Maurice was still full of running and managed to spring the offside trap advancing on the goal.

He maintained his composure and slotted the ball home to get Utd on the score sheet with 10 minutes to go.  Yeah!

The positive was that some of the Utd forward runs were still causing some degree of concern within the Ashes defence.

Maurice blasted another shot from distance which the keeper had to tip round for a corner.

The resulting corner dropped out to the edge of the area on the 2nd phase and Bas managed to get a shot in which wasn’t too far away.

The end to end game was true to form with yet another break against Utd which resulted in the seventh goal.

Yet even at this late stage, the reds did not give up.

Two final Utd attacks looked attractive. Goughy had come on in the last few minutes and was given the role up front to cause some damage and leave a mark on the game – he certainly did that!

A great phase of attacking play down the right culminated in a delightful cross to the far post finding Goughy unmarked, 6 yards out with the keeper nowhere.  He started his stopwatch to work out whether 10, 20 or 30 seconds was appropriate to pull the trigger. He decided on a 20 second delay which unfortunately didn’t really work out OK.  His final kick bounced around and came off the keeper when it was truly easier to score. 

Was it a plane, seagull, UFO that distracted Steve – we’ll never know.

So the game was now approaching its conclusion with the result in the bag for Ashburton but not without a final flurry from the Reds. A tricky one-two down the right followed by some intuition from Michael which saw a well-worked push into the box translate into a well –deserved goal at just about the last kick of the game.  

Final score:  7-2 in Ashburton’s favour.

Truth be told – it wasn’t our best performance!!!!    We can only improve from here.

BMW POP:  John McCulloch – without John’s intervention, particularly in the first half, we would have been looking at a double figure loss

Muppet Moment:  Undoubtedly Steve Gough’s “guaranteed” goal to get him on the season’s score sheet.  Unfortunately the miss was painful for all to watch.  Does this mean Steve’s venture into the attack line is over for the season or is there more to come – watch this space!

Memorable Moment – the final whistle!  Thank God we can revert back to the rest of Sunday to try and obliterate the memory of a pretty dismal morning.

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