Drove to Paisley Park from Sunshine with the last quarter of the Blues-Pies game on the radio, and dreading arriving at the ground with the Pies having lost... thankfully no nonsense hundred metre penalty could prevent a Collingwood victory. Thankfully also that I had to stop at just about every red light on the way, which allowed me to refocus on the road.
After arriving at Paisley Park (and waiting out the last couple of minutes of the footy while parked), I managed to catch most of the under 20s game. We dominated proceedings, but failed to get the win. That's less important than the performances of the players of course, because it is a development team in a development league that's a subsidiary to another development in a development league. Of most interest of course was the ongoing form/status of Manny Aguek, who played well but could not manage to convert any of his many chances on the weekend.
|There's safe standing, and then there's this; people standing on old flimsy|
chairs, on soft, muddy ground. Photo: Luke Radziminski.
The first half performance wasn't too bad. A bit dull, to the point where a idle chat about certain non-NCIP compliant flags at the venue turned into a full-blown vexillology discussion, and whether or not flags from JRR Tolkien's universe would pass the test, seeing as how they are often explicitly linked to particular races.
Anyway, apart from a near own goal (well-saved by Roganovic), Magic didn't really create anything resembling a threatening chance. The game was a messy one, which I thought would suit us, in the sense that if Magic got up and about and started playing in the way they're capable of, we'd struggle to keep up. But then towards the end of the first half, we started to eke some nice moves, and I suppose we felt good that we were still in this game.
The second half could not have started off much worse, with KK giving away a goal. Magic had struggled to make attacking inroads, but instead of clearing the ball up the field, KK had one of his brain-fades and turned the ball over while dribbling in circles on his own byline. Another day, another goal coughed up cheaply. If teams were scoring 30 metre rockets or goals from 25 pass moves, I could cope a little easier with that, but most weeks so many of the goals are self-inflicted.
Look, that's not such a surprise. That's what happens to teams like ours, regardless of the opposition. If one were to use a cricket analogy, one is as likely (perhaps even more likely) to get out from a single bad delivery than several good ones.
And we finally managed to get a bit of luck going our own way. I am glad that Marcus Schroen's free kick (I am not calling it a shot) went in, but there is no way that Marcus meant for the ball to end up in the back of the net. But they all count the same, right? And I suppose the delivery was good enough in the sense that KK was there at the back-post anyway, after faking(?) despondency on the edge of the 18 yard box before the free kick was taken. Say what you will about KK, but he is actually quite adept at making some nice runs into the box from set piece situations.
The other goal, the one that put us into the lead, was a bit more orthodox, but in some ways no less accidental. A decent Schroen pass from deep released Pep Marafioti into space (thanks in part also to the Magic defender who was too high upfield - a common theme on the night, as the home side played a very high line), who after making his run, bobbled the ball at his feet, managed to squeeze the ball under the Magic keeper. Maybe one could be generous and say that the surface contributed to the bobbling, but the net effect was that the stumbling effort to control the ball actually sucked the keeper out further than he may have otherwise committed.
At any rate, Pep's penchant for hitting shots straight at the keeper went his way this time, and he moved into outright leader for our golden boot, with the still miserly total of three goals. Say what you will about Pep though, chances do tend to fall his way, even if he hasn't managed to convert as many as he should've.
And accidental or fortunate goals are still worth more than orthodox no-goals, as could be seen by the normal chances we created we which failed to score from - most notably a Bates one-on-one and a Billy Konstantinidis header. Credit to the opposition goalkeeper on that one, who would've probably walked away with the man-of-the-match plaudits had his team walked away from this game with a point.
I am a bit worried though by our players celebrating by jumping on the fence at Paisley Park - I only say this because I know from unpleasant personal experience that several parts of the field's perimeter fencing has bits of unclipped metal sticking up. Anyway, the only damage done was getting soaked in beer from someone launching their cup in the air during the goal celebrations. And there's me with an umbrella for the rain which never came, sitting closed at my side. At least the guy next to me complaining about being soaked had a waterproof jacket.
The game was interrupted during the second-half by a low flying drone, which stopped the game for a little bit, and led to this reworking of the 'hooligan blood' chant:
Hooligan droneAlong with the three goals, the substitutions and stops in play for injuries, the appearance of the drone saw the officials add six minutes of injury time, which ended up being closer to eight. Naturally this upset quite a few South fans, but one has to remember that the added time as displayed on the fourth official's board is only the minimum amount of time to be added on.
Flying through the air
Hope it doesn't crash
Hope it doesn't crash
Hope it doesn't crash
Still, one can understand the frustration with the game not ending, because there was the feeling that a very good performance - probably our best of the season, if we limit it to the second half - could've been undone by late moment of misfortune. But at least we didn't have our official Twitter account sooking about the officiating.
I'm a fan of official media streams going off the rails (even if it's just ever so slightly), but what was the Magic Twitter account complaining about here? The late 50/50 contest between Jake Marshall and Dusan Bosnjak in the dying moments of the game? That's a bit of a stretch and to extrapolate that into numerous other decisions is mind-boggling, especially as they tended to get the rub of the green, especially in the first half.FT SCORE|— Altona Magic S.C (@AltonaMagic) May 11, 2019
Was not our night as our seniors go down to South 2-1 as some decisions did not go our way.
Our 20’s played a 1-1 draw with a great performance.
📸 @Avellino_Photo… https://t.co/S23HiLpmyT
The thing is that even with their player outs, Magic have a much a stronger (and more expensive) squad than we do, and with a couple of notable exceptions, there'd be few of the players we fielded on Saturday night that they'd swap into their side at the expense of the players they had themselves.
Apart from being worthwhile in its own right, the win was also useful in the ongoing struggle to avoid relegation, especially as Oakleigh took beat Pascoe Vale the day after. The other relevant results tended to go our way this week, but our failure to beat any of the six sides below us at this point of the year (with the exception of Dandy City and Port) is beginning to bite. We're just three points above the playoff spot, and it's that fact which makes you wish we could have scraped more than a combined one point against Oakleigh, Thunder, Kingston, and Pascoe Vale.
The Bergers away on Saturday night.
Shedding excess baggage
The mid-season transfer window has opened, and our first move has been to part ways with
Wishing ex-South man Andy Brennan all the joy and happiness in the world.
“I tried to hide my sexuality a lot and tried to push it aside. Not admitting the truth even to myself, just because of the way I thought it would be perceived."— The PFA (@thepfa) May 14, 2019
Former @ALeague player and @GreenGullySC forward @AndyBrennan36 has made the courageous decision to come out publicly pic.twitter.com/1UEH8s76pQ