LCWM45 vs Kissing Point 24/05/2008

Lane Cove West 3 Kissing Point 3

24 May 2008, Blackman Upper

AC Milan 3, Liverpool 3. European Cup Final, three years ago tomorrow. Exciting game, classic goals, fantastic skills, six goals shared. Just like our game today… the six shared goals, anyway.

 

We played well in the first half: we didn’t take our chances. We let them play well in the second; they did. 3-1 down with four minutes to play, but we clawed back a draw. Get out of jail is the cliché, but we certainly locked ourselves in there in the first place! 

 

We started much as last week. Lots of space against a team that seemed weak, lots of good crosses floating over, and lots of off-target headers. But the crucial difference was that, last week, goals regularly went in between the misses, so that by halftime we were three up and our opponents were beaten. But today there was just the one first-half goal.

 

And a good one it was, too. Sustained pressure saw the ball bobble around their area. It went out to James whose shot (as with last week’s first goal) found a way through bodies into the corner. But this time it was really blasted, waist high, and it smacked the net with a satisfying thump. 1-0, and here we go, here we go.

 

But we never really did: go, that is. We still created chances, but couldn’t finish them off (a diving header by me on the end of Eric’s pinpoint cross was typical: well wide). And we lacked the zip and fizz of last week.

 

Though not to worry, it seemed: Kissing Point were creating little; Jon, Martin, Steve B, Eric & Brian at the back seemed to have it all in hand (and Tony was adjudged to have had some hand in a fierce shot that clipped the bar). Ernie, Dave, Howard, Peter and Bob were working well in mid-field, and James and I (but more so James) were finding lots to chase, lots to be confident about. All we had to do, we agreed at half-time, was to keep on keeping on, use the space and the time that Kissing Point gave us, and more goals would follow: can’t fail.

 

But 30 minutes later we were 3-1 down. Jon says that he blames himself for the goals, but that’s a bit harsh. They were all quite well taken, and the third particularly well struck – regrettably by our own Steve B who was charging back towards goal as the ball surprisingly evaded everyone else. Phil tells us that, in 25 years of playing with Steve, he has seen him regularly thrash such own-goals: three or four a season is the norm, apparently. Goals at the other end a bit rarer, though. (Nice to have friends, Steve).

 

Before that, a good passing move had brought their first goal, and the second was dribbled round Tony. Suddenly, Kissing Point had found some footballers, and lots of confidence. Their right winger was particularly obnoxious, now loudly insisting that they were playing for goal difference. “Let’s shut this wanker up” was James’s suggestion, and, in time, we did.

 

But time was the problem. There were 15 minutes left when their third went in, and though we huffed and puffed it seemed like the house wasn’t going to be blown down.

 

Eric now joined the attack regularly: haring up the left wing. Dave, on the other side, put over some good crosses; and one of Peter’s hung at the left post, only for Bob to head it wide. Meantime, Kissing Point weren’t entirely applying Queensberry rules: James had earlier been pulled back by his shirt when leading a chase in the area (but John the ref was unsighted), and now he was hacked down just outside. But the free-kick came to nothing.

 

Still Peter, Bob and Howard made chances from mid-field, and the defence held on well, but not without some pressure: Tony was much busier in the second half, but looked troubled only when picking the ball out of the net (he’d had no chance with any of the goals).

 

In the meantime, Howard set off earthquake alarms again across Asia with a spectacular belly-flop. “Dive”, our opponents claimed, but it wasn’t anything like as elegant as that!

 

Thank goodness for 90-minute games! Though it seemed all too late when we finally got one back. A cross from Dave was only partially cleared, and fell to me close in on the left. I hooked it over the ‘keeper: 2-3.

 

Four minutes to go, and most of them seemed to be taken up with us being off-side or conceding goal-kicks. Just time for one last foray, it seems: James pushes it to me, and keeps running. I push it on to him. He blasts, but the ‘keeper pushes it aside; onto the far post; the rebound evades Peter, is it going to evade everyone…? No, here’s Dave steaming in: bang, and 3-3!

 

 

Relief, rather than rejoicing, for us. But there’s certainly no more talk of goal difference from Kissing Point!

The remaining minute passed safely to both defences, and 3-3 it finished. Possibly a fair outcome, on the game as a whole, but two points lost, rather than one gained.

 

But curiously, the point takes us up to 3rd (where we would also have been had we won). We’re three points behind Monash (whom we play almost at the end). They are now the only undefeated side, having beaten Northbridge A today. And we’re one point behind Clarke Road, who demolished Northbridge B.

 

Bob and Jon tied for third in the man-of-the-match voting. I was second (again for the last five minutes, I suspect) and James was the runaway winner: someone didn’t vote for him as first (you can tell because 37 is not divisible by 3), but almost everyone did. And rightly so.

 

Thanks to Phil for again organizing the subs; to John who, despite his bad hip, helped out Northbridge (and us) when they couldn’t find a ref, and officiated very sensibly; and to Howard as ref as 3pm, and Peter and Steve as linesmen.

 

MARK BRYANT