Saigon Raiders 8 – The Ex Pro’s 1

When Raiders Rocked up at the new venue kindly arranged by Clem and ‘WeSport’ there was one thing on everyone’s mind. How small are those 11 a side goals… surely they are more like 7-9 a side sized? On inspection, after an incident in the first half that shall go unnamed it was found that indeed, the goals were shorter than the required size. With the main point now cleared up, on we go with the match report!

Once again Raiders squad was strong, new faces were coming into the team and competition for places continues. Games like this continue to give opportunities for players to keep fitness levels at a decent level as well as pointed out by the coach, put themselves in a position for a start in the league games. It was evident that several players were keen to do just that with some very solid performances.

Raiders started the game with an old Raider – Henri in goal. I am sure that all Raiders would agree, he would definitely give Mirko competition was he around for longer periods in HCMC. At the back to start, Niko straight from Bui Vien, via the wrong pitch, obtaining the first pre match turkey vote! In the middle of the three was Rich and to his right Aron. In the middle was Craig flanked by Raiders own coach/closet football hooligan Jon and Rubes. Then pressing higher Clem, Mike Owen – we will come to him later (He may still be in shock that he is not writing this match report) and finally up front the lethal partnership of McD and Hoggy (Who is still in shock that Mike Owen is not writing the match report). The bench was made up of Jerry2, Magnus, Nano, Arvin and Niko’s compadre Yann.

The game began at a fast past and raiders were in control from the off, moving the ball well and quickly in-between the opposition. Chances came early that saw Rubes and Clem link well before the keeper blocked a good effort. It was the same combination on 3 minutes that led to a goal, Craig threaded a pass to Ben on the wing, he laid in Clem but his shot from a tight angle bounced off the keeper and Hoggy was there to follow in to give Raiders a 1-0 lead. Minutes later Hogg turned provider, a smart ball by Mike Owen sent Hoggy away down the line, he cantered for Clem to slide home, 2-0 and it seemed like the boys hadn’t broke sweat yet!

Raiders continued to let the ball flow out and move it well across the pitch, all players looking relatively comfortable on the ball. It was slightly longer between goal 2 – 3. In between we saw Craig drop out of the game, he had started well but an illness seemed to get the better of him and brought his game to a halt. Step up Magnus, instantly slotting right in to the whole left, flying around the midfield collecting the ball and distributing it well. On 19 minutes McD rolled a ball into Clems path and there was only one way that was going to end, a classy finish across the keeper and 3-0.

Next comes the first half’s big talking point. A quick break down the left, the ball moving too quick for the opponents sees Clem break away, Mike Owen screams for it at the back post, Clem sees him and rolls the ball – some may say on a plate… as the ball trickles across the area, keeper stranded at his near post, defenders nowhere to be seen Mike’s eyes open/or close, who knows! All we do know if the ball rolls under his foot for the fresh air shot of the year.

As the half was coming to an end, unfortunately for Rich so was his involvement in the day. A clash in the centre of the park gave him a knock that was worth protecting and so Jerry mark 2 made his way onto the field. Another man who took a good opportunity and put in a fine display. The half was not done for others though, some good work from Jon saw Hoggy set away again and he rolled in to Clem for him to tap in and make it 4-0. Clem’s first half hattrick quite impressive, our party animal doing the business on the pitch as well as off it 😉

Before the fifth of the half a clumsy tackle inside the opponent’s box saw the referee point to the spot for a penalty. With nobody wanting to step up as the goals were so small it was left to Hoggy. No excuses for this one really… the ball smashed the inside of the post and came out. Ah well – better that it happened in this game and not the next!

Clem himself wasn’t finished with the half. More good link up between him and Ben saw Clem dispatch another cool finish to wrap up the half at 5-0. Things that may have been missed from that half, Ben also got nutmegged. Raiders were solid at the back keeping a clean sheet in the half and all in all the defence had worked hard to keep it that way. Aron the ever-present wall. Nano alert – yes alert! Working well on the right whilst Niko and fellow French man Yann contributed well, Niko at one point getting a head cold as he tried to curl a screamer in from around 40 yards.

The second half took longer for Raider to get off the mark. In-fact Aron may have got so frustrated with that point that he felt the lads needed a kick up the arse and so took it upon himself to kindly assist the opponent and rolled them in 1 v 1 with the keeper, their striker thumped the ball past Henri. What clever thinking by the wise full back, it may or may not have resulted in the lads then pushing on. Arvin using his body strength up front was frustrating the opponent and chances continued to be created by Yann, Mike Owen, Clem and Jon.

The bar shook on two occasions from Jon and Clem but it was Mike Owen who struck first 26 minutes into the second half after Clem squared a ball. The goal was perhaps his saving grace when it comes to the turkey nominations as he smashed it into the top corner at pace, a great finish. A miss later in this half (from inside 5 yards) after running the length of the pitch will not be mentioned. Two minutes later Luke rolled the ball home to make it 7-1, everyone but Luke left trying to work out how the ball actually managed in the net, placed into the corner it bobbled, jumped and bounced its way across the line. To wrap things up Jon got his goal, Hoggy cutting back for Jon to smash home.
8-1 is a big score line but no more or less than what the lads deserved. In games like this defenders and defensive midfielders often go unmentioned, but they all stood firm to ensure Raiders had the ball for the majority of the game today. All did well and worked for the team, in games like this players can become selfish but in the same way Man City are currently dispatching their opponents as a team with goals coming from multiple areas, Raiders are now doing the same. We will all want to see them take it into next week’s game against FCFC. Whether you are on the pitch or off it, support will be required for the next two big games!

Mentions to Jon and Magnus for fine performances and MOM nominations, but how can it go to anyone other than Clements after his thumping performance today. As for Turkey, Hoggy picked this up for the penalty miss… hard to avoid, but we should all remember we have seen worse. Haven’t we McGayver.

Before the game Clem had stated that the opposition was full of ex pros, maybe a tactic to get his team mates to raise their game, maybe true, but the result suggested otherwise!

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