Oh, and we had a good look at who the ref was going to be for the senior match.
Oh no, it's Bruno! #nplvic #smvgg
— Paul Mavroudis (@PaulMavroudis) July 6, 2014
He actually ended up having very little impact on a game that was littered with lots of little fouls but no serious ones until the right at the end, but more on that later. Of more immediate concern was the fact that as good as we were looking going forward early on, the back end was messy. Those fear were only partly allayed by Matthew Theodore's early goal and the decisive moment of the game, heading home from close range with the Gully goalkeeper Kieran Gonzalez stranded thanks to Jamie Reed's superb cross from the right. Even more impressive was Reed's burning of Osagie Ederaro to create the space to get the cross in the first place. If reed's not going to score goals, then at least play him into space so he can make fools of the opposition, because no one on our side comes even close to having the dribbling skills that he does.
Speaking of dribbling, remember when that was a skill that lots of players had? Check out the SBS classic world cup matches - I'm talking up to the mid 1980s here - to see what a fundamental and entertaining part of the game we've lost, that marvelous moment where you just sat there mouth agape at the way feet, ball and mind combined to outwit and humiliate an opponent.
But I digress. Within two minutes of our goal, Gully surely should have equalised - the space and time were both there - but could only watch on in horror as Tim Mala cleared it off the line. Now Tim Mala, there's a player I did think highly of last year, but his improvement has been a key reason for our good run so far this season. Yes, he still mistakes, but he's making fewer of them, and for a lot of players that's as good a place to start as any.
The rest of the half saw us on the back foot,with Gully having the better of both territory and possession, and us requiring the intervention of Saldaris far more often than I would have liked. Nick Epifano, who's been in the wars injury wise this season, copped another blow, and had to be subbed out during the first half. With Leigh Minopoulos unavailable - overseas attending a family wedding according to smfcboard - Tyson Holmes entered the field, necessitating a reshuffle in midfield. More important than all that though was the fact that we held onto the lead going inot the break. which allowed us to regroup.
The evidence of that was there to see in the first part of the second half, as we turned on the style. Unfortunately, neither Reed nor Milos Lujic were able make the most of chances that are bread and butter for any striker. That inability to close out the game of course meant that Gully were going to be a threat once our period of dominance faded, and so it came to pass. Only their own wasteful finishing, and desperate defending with bodies being flung in the way of incoming shots kept them out.
The game went into a 95th minute - and even though I'm not a fan of the re-tooled scoreboard's colour scheme, I love that the clock now goes past 90:00, so thanks to Cuddles for taking my suggestion on board - because James Musa was apparently stomped on while on the ground, to which to our mate Bruno only dished out a yellow card. Nevertheless, we held on for all three points, and got Frozen Tears' official club song blared over the speakers, another nice feature of the 2014 match day experience, even though the 'summer's here' line is now representative of an increasingly distant past.
Some other thoughts. Shaun Timmins may be a decent player, but I'm not yet convinced that he's any better than Brad Norton, the bloke he's dislodged from the starting eleven. He hasn't yet shown the attacking ability that Norton has over the journey, and if Timmins has been recruited because he's more solid defensively than Norton - not an unreasonable assumption - than he's yet to impress me on that front either. Though it's only been two games, Timmins seems to play very narrowly, which is great if he times his interceptions, but horrible if his aim is not true. Indeed, his positioning reminded me somewhat of Ramazan Tavsancioglu, who also had a habit of finding himself far too central when he was with us.
Also of a concern is the centreback situation, with Dimi Tsiaras now off on his honeymoon I assume, and Andrew Mullet - was he even on the bench yesterday? - getting precious little game time, and likely to get even less now that Timmins and Norton will be, in theory at least, fighting over the left back position. More pleasing at the back end of things was the improvement in Jason Saldaris' kicking. Though there were still the occassional iffy moments - as much as to do with the problematic footing situation at Lakeside at the moment - the apparent instruction, and I really I'm only guessing this is what has happened, to get Saldaris more touches of the ball and to make the first priority to get it as far up field as possible seemed to lead to him getting real purchase on clearances.
After all that, our lead at the top remained at six points, after Oakleigh brushed aside Port Melbourne on Friday night. They've got Gully away this week, so there's conceivably a chance of Oakleigh dropping points out there, though I doubt that their forwards will be as profligate as ours have been recently.
Hume City at home. Will I even make it to the game? Who knows, but never fear dear reader, I do have a backup reporter in the event that my return from Sydney becomes complicated. Will the Hume players on holiday in Brazil - apparently one of the Franjics and Kliment Taseski - make it back?
Hilarity ensued when for some reason the scoreboard somehow ended up changing to display Gully as being up 2-0. Cue the '2-0, to the Gully' chant from Clarendon Corner. When the scoreboard the chamnged to show the Adidas logo, the chant became 'Adidas, Adidas, Adidas'.
As usual with a Gully game, there was fun to be had at the expense of the Vargas brothers, with Andy copping the brunt of this time. To some hostile chanting directed at him, he at least had the good sense to stick his thumb at the crowd rather than the middle finger, to which he received the 'you can stick for fucking thumb up your arse' chant. At the end of the match, a few people headed down towards the players' race, both thumbs stuck up in there as the Gully players walked past them down the race.
Asian Cup is coming! (because you all care so very much)
Sure, we're all still in world cup mode, but if H.G. Nelson hasn't compelled you to book your seats for the Asian Cup, I'm here with my own exhilarating story.
I bought my tickets to this tournament during the week after conferring with two other blokes to splurge for Category 1 Melbourne venue pack tickets. We ended up with some pretty decent seats for every game - though naturally slightly worse (though still more than acceptable) for the opening match with the Socceroos and the quarter final). For some appropriately vague but still obviously stupid reason, I'm looking forward to Palestine and Jordan in particular.
The scheduling is quite packed - all the Melbourne games are two days apart - but the value is very good whether you want to buy venue pack or single tickets, especially since there's no thing as a bad seat.at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. However, those looking to chase the Socceroos up and down the east coast come January 2015 - like our old mate Steve from Broady - will have their work cut out for themselves with organising tickets, flights and accommodation, because the Asian Cup organising committee couldn't give a stuff about those types.
More Shoot Farken world cup stuff
Has the law of diminishing returns been achieved here? Find out for yourselves below.
Meanwhile, over on the Melbourne
Short lived franchise, now
frontier corporate outpost;
Still keeping it real.
Around the grounds
Sweet rays of afternoon sunshine
Headed out to Campbell Reserve to see what's become a bit of rivalry in this division and its predecessor. Sadly the contest provided by Altona East on this afternoon was meek, with Morerland running out 4-1 winners, though could have easily scored twice as many as that, hitting the post twice and having a penalty saved among a host of missed opportunities. Still, the outing did give a chance for Ian Syson to photograph the late afternoon Melburnian sunlight he's so fond of.
#MCFCvAEPAOK 4-1 now pic.twitter.com/tlcjGCX33I
— Ivan Sysonovic (@IanSyson) July 5, 2014
As Cuddles noted to me the other day, 'no wonder no one's coming to games anymore, everyone's busy porking birds'.