Menacing Frenchman, 7 foot pikeys and a mind blowing penalty!
Another statement made by the Raiders!!
With the Saigon raiders first official pool party looming, moral was high coming into our first Friday night fixture. A great squad had been assembled both on and off the park and players were chomping at the bit for 3 more points. An inspirational team talk by the coach and skip added to our preparation and reminded us of the importance of the encounter and the need for us get our game faces on!
Raiders started very strong with the defence sweeping up everything in the air (Shout out to el capitano against lanky lankerson), midfield getting stuck into some serious challenges (shout out to silent assassin Craig), and attacking options always a danger. It wasn’t surprising to see the raiders dominate in the early stages and be rewarded with a thumping finish from Clemens after a delicate assist from Rick. A great goal which left raiders brimming with confidence. This was shaping up to be an easy game! Mmmm….perhaps not!
From out of no-where Hotshots equalized with their first real passage of play with an easy header leaving Mirko stranded on the edge of the box. Ouch, where the fuck did that come from?? To double compound our confusion at not being in front, Mike missed a simple header at the near post which allowed a corner to be converted by Hotshots. A double blow, in quick succession, left us feeling dumbfounded!
Heads didn’t really drop after that, but raiders just needed a wee bit of time to process what had happened. However, after a positive spell from Hotshots, raiders began to get a hold on the game again and started to play the ball around more confidently. Sipho came on for Craig (perhaps due to his knee recovery) and Colin moved Mike into the middle to shore up the midfield alongside the ever reliable Ben and the French menace. It seemed to have an impact as raiders dug deep to find an equaliser. A beautiful ball floated into the box by Ben, nodded on by Mike with Rick pouncing instinctively to side foot into the corner. Nice! A great move and a classy finish, which contributed to a MOTH performance! Just what we needed before half time! A notable mention for the ref who decided not to dismiss a Hotshot for bringing Clem down twice when through on goal. One of many bizarre decisions as the Hotshot player was already walking off the park!!! Weird!!!
It was clear from the team talk at half time that no-one would be happy with a draw against these guys and raiders were desperate to set up our weekend with a victory! Pool party after 3 points. Yes Please! This mentality drove us to fight harder in the second half as we realized we needed to dig a lot deeper for the victory!
Scott, Olly and Vincent continued to keep their strikers on the leash and even forced the big pikey up top to be substituted with his tail between his legs! Good effort guys! Nico, Ben and Mike continued to communicate effectively in the midfield trying to release the front 3 who had real pace behind them. Nico, under strict instructions from the coach to be a dick and get stuck in, took the job on literally and made some crunching tackles and earned a yellow for a sensible foul to break down play. Chances were continuous for raiders as Hotshots saw less and less of the ball. It was evident we wanted it more! A few glorious chances were agonizingly missed by Clem and Rick as the keeper and the post denied the raiders. At the other end, Rich, who had come on for the tiring but effective Vincent, continued his duel with Fox and scuppered a clear goal scoring opportunity. I think anyone would have scuffed their shot knowing Rich was up your arse at full speed! Great effort Rich!
Towards the end of the game, Sipho, who was a constant threat down the left, played the ball into feet in the box and both Mike and Clem seemed to be fouled (perhaps looking for a pen). Boom! Finally, the ref, who should have sent off 2-3 Hotshot players already, got a decision right (I think). Mike stepped up, brimming with confidence (not really), eager to convert……. and fucking SMASHED IT! No fucking chance keeps! 3-2 with 5 minutes to go. Great timing! To settle our nerves, Hoggy, who’d been battling all game down the right, pounced on some poor Hotshots defending to semi-lob the keeper who was well off his line. 4-2. Game over. Well, it certainly was for the Frenchy who was sent off in front of his folks for another solid challenge. Nice! Good shift though Nico! Hotshots managed to get a wee consolation goal, but it was shite and took a deflection, so who cares.
A valiant effort by all involved and great support from the touch line to spur us on. As Olly pointed out, it really drives us on the pitch and played a big role in our victory. A special shout out to Rick who barely put a foot wrong and worked tirelessly up front creating chances and holding up the ball tremendously. Less of a shout out for me for taking a ‘fairy throw in’ as our brummie would call it. Let’s not forget that pen tho! Fucking smashed it!
On to Friday where another 3 points is fully expected!