Before I wrote the previous post, I assumed that I wasn't going to be at this game, but through the magic of the South of the Border audience, there I was at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex, eating a raznjice roll instead of a pork belly roll (because Gains apparently got the last one), and drinking a non-zero sugar CC & Dry. What a magical evening this was already, and then it was ruined, absolutely ruined, by the muddling team selection.
With a nearly a full week between the St Albans game and this one, and over a week between this game and the next one against Hume, I could not, and cannot for the life of me understand why Esteban Quintas chose to once again rotate the squad Mickey Arthur style. Pick the best damn attacking options and get on with it. My lord, it is so frustrating to watch this team knowing that if its optimal attacking set up was unleashed, it would be in a much better position not just to win games, but to also win them well.
I'm sure Quintas has his reasons. Freddie Sey got a start instead of Gerrie Sylaidos or Zac Bates, and on five minutes should have had a goal, or at least a shot on target. Instead he hit Henry Hore's cut back in such a messed up way, that even watching it half a dozen (and them some) times on replay, I can't figure out what Sey was trying to do. It looks like he hit the ball with both feet at once, but even thinking about the mechanics of that just make me dizzy.
Anyway, these things apparently happen. But despite controlling the early part of the game, having not taken the lead from a great early chance early mean that City could afford to continue to play the game on its terms, in the sense that they were built for rapid counter attacks and making the most of mistakes in the middle. Since we were carrying the ball up field and committing numbers forward to do so, and since the pitch - by far the bumpiest I've seen this season - made ball control in the middle of the park difficult.
And despite being bottom of the table, City were hardly terrible. Certainly they looked more likely than St Albans. To wit - they opened the scoring thanks to a new recruit, secured with a transfer system loophole, a great finish even if our friend did have too much space on the edge of the box. On first glance it looks like Ben Djiba gets turned inside out, but the replay suggests that he's effectively being asked to mark three opponents while some of his midfield teammates are ball watching.
Some may say that wouldn't have happened under, say, Melvin Becket's watch, but that's a story for another day. Second half, a couple of attacking substitutions, and there we were, hunting for the equaliser in a game that had gone from messy and tolerable in a "I'm watching an NPL match, so I need to remind myself not to expect too much" way, to helter skelter, up and down, attack and counter attack, being on the edge of your seat wondering if the next gial would be ours or theirs.
As it turned out, the next - and only - goal was ours. Henry Hore with another cute assist, though Daniel Clark had some work to do to turn on his right and toe-bash the ball into the back of the net. Former South man Gavin De Niese, who was marking Clark, would probably be disappointed with himself for being so far off Clark when the latter got the ball. Either side of the equaliser City's goalkeeper pulled off any number of good saves, though he was also helped by the post after he cocked up one sequence, and also helped by us stuffing up a three on one opportunity.
There's a part of me that can't decide if we thought this game would be easier than it turned out, or if we gave too much credit to the home team. Either way, it was two points dropped for us, and being top of the league playing bottom, there's no way of getting around that. While there are no guarantees in any match, logically a team such as ours, on top of the table after eight games - even if we're not quite sure how we did that - should be winning these games, especially with the quantity of chances we created,
Still, after the game ended there followed the applause of much of the crowd, for I assume (I hope) both teams, who put together a very entertaining second half. And then some argle-bargle happened down near the players race, which kinda took the edge of the feelings of good sportsmanship and appreciation of a good game of football. At least we didn't cop anyone giving us a Nazi salute this time, so that's a plus.
Hume City at home on Saturday afternoon. Prior to the senior game I believe the annual Tony Clarke Memorial Shield game will take place. The under 21s will be playing after the senior game.
I'm not expecting a big crowd up against all those state league fixtures, and on Orthodox Easter Saturday to boot. Even I won't be there, as I will be in Wollongong for a friend's wedding.
So if you want to write up this week's match report, send me a line, because chances are I won't even get to watch this game on delay.
Now it's official
Our cup game against Knights is on Tuesday May 4th, 7:30PM at Lakeside. South memberships won't get you into this game, but tickets are only $10.
I did not expect that
Last night on a whim, I decided to head out and catch our senior women in action at Lakeside against FV Emerging, because that's how much I love Monday night football. Considering the spanking our women gave Bulleen in round 1, and how even an at times half-arsed performance in round 2 gave us a win over Calder, I was expecting good enough things for round 3. Big mistake. I'd heard that the Emerging program (re-badged from whatever its previous name was) has been looking good this season, but I didn't expect it to be this good. I'm told they train four times a week, getting up at six in the morning, and have the odd over-age player, but notwithstanding any of that, they looked damn good. Scary good. They made our team look second rate. We couldn't get the ball; and when we did get the ball, we couldn't do anything with it; and when we did do something with it, it was hardly spectacular. I don't think we had a shot on target all night. And despite one cock-up, if not for Melissa Barbieri in goal, we wouldn't have only lost 5-0.
It wasn't down to fitness, or the individual physical qualities of players such as speed or strength. It was down to the quality of the teamwork from Emerging - their passing and movement a real cut above almost anything I've seen in local women's soccer. Much to think about for our women's team then, and much to think also I assume for any opponent of FV Emerging.
Promotion and relegation chat
I don't normally do this, but on the Australian soccer history podcast that I co-host, we recently had a chat with Australian soccer statistician Andrew Howe about the way promotion and relegation worked in the National Soccer League. Might be worth tuning in just in case you ever wanted to weigh in on the topic on social media.
First you get the streaming; then you get the gambling; then you get the women
Saturday afternoon, and I could not be arsed driving to Paisley Park. I also could not be arsed walking to Ralph Reserve. Decided instead to sit on the couch, fire up the Xbox, and watch some streaming matches on YouTube. Congratulations to all the streaming service advocates, you've won. I was flipping across multiple games, with no loyalty to any one contest. Devonport vs Olympia held my interest for as long the underdog Olympia were leading 2-1. Then when Devonport equalised, that was it for me. Bergers vs Port? Flat sounding commentary and no crowd ambience meant that the game didn't hold much interest, and it looked like the Bergers were in control anyway. The choice then was to flick back and forth between the Avondale-Thunder, and Preston-North Sunshine games. North Sunshine had four ex-South players in its lineup - Mala, Epifano, Zeneli, and Budimir - and the game had its share of tension and a big time feel. And the game at the Reggio Calabria had Avondale trying to win to close the gap to us... and yet I wasn't able to fully commit to the story of either game. It all came across as so frivolous, having all that choice. Richey Edwards had a line about that in a song the Manics completed years after Richey's mysterious disappearance, but that's really only of interest to exactly one person reading this: me.
Thanks to Paul C. for giving me and Gains a lift to and from the ground - it was very much appreciated!