It has to be said that I was nervous about this game, not only because Durbanville are our main competition for winning the league, but also because they are unbeaten and, until yesterday, had only conceded one goal. The entire season. An own goal at that. No-one else had scored against them. It was also perturbing that I was lurking outside the change rooms in my jeans at 13h45 waiting for the other 6 players and Durbanville had already changed, walked to the field and were warming up already. Difference in commitment some passer by remarked. My response was “it doesn’t matter what you do before the game, its what you do during the game that counts…”. Regardless of whatever anyone said, I was sticking to that….
To be honest, the game is a bit of a blur for me. For the first 10 minutes of the first half, I thought that the wrong team had pitched up, because we had it that easy. We put them under pressure and Almiro collected the ball in the midfield dribbled through half of Durbanville and slotted it past the goalie into the net. We walked back for them to restart and I was secretly adding up how many goals I would be satisfied with. Too soon I guess, because that’s when everything went pear-shaped. Clearly Durbanville weren’t accustomed to conceding a goal, never mind being behind and it showed in their response. What started out as a friendly banter between old rivals became out-and-out aggression and attack, and not necessarily at the goals. I felt like I was part of a team EFC or mixed martial arts competition. I couldn’t hear myself think for the screaming and shouting that was going on. Durbanville also attacked poor Mike the referee at every decision he took, and he had a good game it has to be said, it was most bizarre. Mike showed a lot of character indeed, in the face of adversity reffing as fairly as possible whilst being castigated, criticised and cursed at by Durbanville. Almiro on the other hand, showed his years of experience by taking out at least two players that I saw, never mind what I missed. In the meantime, I had to defend myself in midfield with onslaughts from left and right, front and back, including a body check by the 300kg centre back. But fight back we did and bravely so. It was an even competition it has to be said because we had our chances but didn’t take them. Our best chance came from a one-on-one with their keeper but we missed and they had the same opportunity in the second half and didn’t score either. With their onslaught on goal, Kurt saved the day by sticking a leg out at the last minute deflecting the shot for a corner, but did so in style with a graceful pirouette and landing on his buttocks as a result. It was a thunderous shot and to spin Kurt like a top indicated the strength of the shot. Kurt had a great game and was well-placed for all their shots, even getting a compliment from our local Godfather (aka Almiro). Mighty Mouse had the slip on their left back and beat him every time with pace but when the crosses came through, there weren’t enough bodies in the box to make a difference and the ball inevitably came out again.
Their tactics were simple…every ball out of their backline was aimed at their front man who looked like he was Goliath reincarnate. Even our strong tall centre back Ruben had little effect when jumping for the ball as Goliath continued to flick the ball on or header towards goals. However, having said that, our backline was as solid as a rock with Davey and Ruben in the centre letting very little through and between Johan and Spike out on the sides, Durbanville had very little opportunity to get a shot at goals. In fact Spike having another cracker met their aggression with some of his own, earning himself a yellow in the process, but back down wasn’t an option for the lad and played hard throughout the game. Richard and Dereck had little opportunity up front probably because they were outnumbered 5 to 2 when they did get the ball with Almiro, Warren, Neil and myself struggling to cover the distance between defending and attacking quickly enough.
Midway through the second half, Durbanville were awarded a foul just outside the big box to the Keeper’s left. We formed a wall and my thought was “if they cross it to Goliath…” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out their tactics, particularly as I had it worked out already. Being extra medium in height, I knew that I didn’t stand a chance in defending the cross so I took the easy option of standing in the wall leaving the big lads at the back to fight it out. The cross landed squarely on Goliath’s forehead and bulleted into the back of the net. I learnt afterwards that Goliath has scored hat tricks this season, just from his head. They continued to put on the pressure after that but we defended well and had a couple of breaks which wasn’t supported enough from the midfield. The game ended 1-1 and was probably a fair result in the end given the play, but I felt like it was a loss. We had gone up early and a second goal would’ve sealed it I feel, but it wasn’t to be. Durbanville certainly wanted it more than us and fought hard for the full 70 minutes. We had patches of good play but probably didn’t deserve the win as we didn’t want it badly enough. They’re a side that practices regularly, the whole team I am told, and does drills for different scenarios. I suspect they probably feed Goliath some growth hormones at the same time because in our age group there are few so big and agile as the man. Even so, without him in the team, there aren’t really any threatening players who can score. Ah, hindsight is 20/20 vision indeed.
We play next week away to West End. A good bunch of lads and I look forward to the game. The week after that we play our cup game at home to Old Mutual and I suspect they will be visiting with a vengeance. We will be tight on numbers over the next few weekends with some players out due to injuries and travelling. We only had 11 players on Saturday so I am concerned about our next game already. I’m hoping for Gavin, Stevie, Stuart and Stephane to be back in action soon but I may have to recruit additional players to help out the numbers.
For the record, here are the numbers…we have 21 registered players of which 2 (Abel and Justin) play mainly over 40’s. We have 5 serious injuries aside from those who play with their injuries viz. Dezroy, Stuart, Gavin, Clive and Stephane. Stevie was under the instruction of his wife not to play yesterday and one player doesn’t play on Saturdays – Richard Gurtel. Do the numbers… 21-2-5-1-1=12 and Wayne picked up the dreaded lurgy at the last minute leaving us with 11. Almiro is away from today and Dereck is away for two weeks in July… we’re going to struggle. I have some potential recruits but we need the whole team back and fit as soon as possible.