Match report: Raiders 5 – 1 Arsenal Artists
In front of the TV cameras, The Raiders lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with a backline of Captain Pete, Collin and super speedy Scott. Mick was once again asked to break up the play in front of the defence and he did so superbly. In central midfield Andy and Nico French were tasked with showing Arsenal Artists what beautiful football really is. Gary and Wouter started as wing-backs, whilst Hoggy and Rick were the pacey poachers up top. Big thanks to Pat for stepping in to cover for Mirko. As always he was solid and reliable, pulling off a beautiful save early on and injuring himself in the process.
What a bloody performance that was, we absolutely battered them from start to finish. Raiders controlled the play from the outset taking the lead through Rick who knocked it in after great build up work down the right to create the opening.
Despite dominating the first half, the AA striker did manage to momentarily escape from my pocket for a few seconds, bursting down the left and crossing in for what looked a certain goal only for Gary to produce a wonder tackle after a lung-busting sprint back to defence. From the resulting corner the big man nodded in to undeservedly equalise just before half time.
Not to be disheartened, the Raiders responded immediately and after great work by Hoggy – who managed to touch the ball with every part of his body to get past the defence – crossed to Rick who notched his second of the evening. The immediate response epitomised our spirit as we took a 2-1 lead into the interval. Coach Colin could be seen cracking a wry smile as he tore up the half-time team talk he had just written.
At half time I set Rick the challenge of completing his hat-trick within ten minutes of the restart. Our very own Dutch Oven was clearly fired up and it only took him around five minutes to bag his third. Hoggy once again turned provider and after more dogged running and (mis)control, he served it up on a platter, allowing the Dutch Oven to blow away the defence and seal the easiest hat-trick he’ll ever score.
The third goal killed the so-called Artists and they never really looked like scoring from then on, with their only attacking outlet, the big man up top, rarely finding his way out of my pocket. If he did pop out, I made sure to give him a little kick back into place. The Raiders continued to push forward and after several bad touches somehow allowed him to elude the defence Hoggy managed to grab a couple of goals towards the end with flukey finishes.
5-1 was a fair reflection of the game, however, with a few minutes left, Ben felt that AA needed a bit of a chance to reduce the deficit, so he opted to collect two bookings within seconds of each other. The first for a horrific challenge which he followed up by complimenting the standard of refereeing. This did not go down so well and off Ben went for an early shower.
Sharing Ben’s compassion, I also thought that the Arsenal boys could do with a chance to pull some goals back. After winning the ball, I decided against flicking the ball over the opposition player’s head as they had been humiliated enough and I knocked it past him instead. I was tired after carrying their striker deep in my pocket all game and took a heavy touch before clattering into an unfortunate defender. The referee had got a bit card-happy by this point and I picked up my second booking of the game, the first was for a beautifully cynical foul which my hombre Sergio Ramos would have been proud of. On my way off the pitch I had to be reminded to take the opposition striker out of my pocket and pop him back on the field. The last few minutes petered out as the nine men sealed the 5-1 victory.
The real artistes on the night were the boys in black, and a special mention must go to the subs too, with Nico Belgian pulling out a René Higuita tribute mid-game, Craig continuing his penchant for hitting shots out for throw-ins, and Rich for producing an absolute worldie of a cross. Lest us forget our home-grown boys who came off the bench, and as we all know, there a three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and Danny Vo getting booked. Unfortunately, Bao looks to have picked up a really bad injury and we all wish him and his delicate body well.
Playing like this we’ll be a match for anyone, hopefully we can achieve katakiuchi against Japan next week, even without me.
Coming soon. The picture below will be here to entertain in the meantime.