LCWM45 vs NorthsideMonash 29/06/2008

Northside Monash 1, Lane Cove West 0

29 June 2008, Kingsford Smith

Following our 6-0 victory over Linfield last week, one would assume we would approach this week’s game full of confidence and enthusiasm. However, the prevailing mood was more about caution and apprehension with various new tactical approaches being touted to try and hold Monash at bay. Also with Mark away, news of Bob suffering from a “pinched artery” (ouch!) and John Sneddon failing a late “hip” test our numbers were seriously depleted.


However, due to Howard spending too long chatting to Barry Kodesh five minutes before the start and Ernie arriving back from the gents just in time to kick off - all talk of 4-5-1 and 3-5-2 were abandoned in favour of the old tried and tested 4-4-2 formation.


Monash had only lost one game to Wahroonga last week so we knew it was going to be a tough game but as we so often prove we actually play much better against a good side.


In the early exchanges our back four looked very solid and well organised by Brian, the midfield were passing the ball very well and the combination of James, Dave Clarkson and Jon Ball up front was making life uncomfortable for the Monash defence.


Monash continued to try and find a way past our resolute defence but were reduced to long range efforts – one of which I have to admit did have Tony back pedaling to make sure it went over.


The best chances of the first half fell to our forwards.  Jon Ball playing up front for the first time many years “raced” through onto a perfectly timed defence splitting pass from Peter (I think! ) and was very unfortunate not to put us ahead as he tried to toe poke it over the keeper.  The keeper managed to get at least some part of his body in front of the ball as the rest of his body felt the full force of Jon’s knees, legs and everything else but he thankfully recovered to continue the game.


Minutes later a corner was only partially cleared by Monash and everything seemed to go into slow motion as the ball seemed to evade everyone until Dave Clarkson smacked it against the cross bar but it still wouldn’t go in.


Monash it must be said had also played well but at half time with the score 0-0 we all agreed that we probably deserved to be ahead.


So again contrary to our normal routine we started the 2nd half very positively.  Ernie, Howard, Peter and Tim (now in midfield) contested everything and with the back four playing the ball very nicely out of defence we continued to put pressure on Monash.


Steve (not Steve Batt but his mate) had a very solid debut and Steve L and Steve B swapped flanks at full back with ease to  allow myself and Eric a much needed rest.  (Wow that’s a lot of Steves!).


As one of the linesman said after the game it was a great game to watch as both teams were passing the ball well but a goal was the only thing missing at this point.


Unfortunately what was becoming apparent and would later contribute to some unnecessary verbal exchanges between the two teams, was that the referee and linesmen were not the best we have had this season. In fact maybe the linesman was watching too much and not doing his job!


As legs got tired we continued to move the defence up quickly to squeeze the space in midfield but the linesman was somewhat short of pace and on several occasions gave incorrect offside calls and throw ins much to Eric’s annoyance and contributed to some verbal exchanges in what had previously been a very fair and sporting contest.


This was made worse when a cross was destined for Jon Ball’s head  and hopefully the top corner of the goal only for the defender to quite clearly place two hands on his back and push him just before contact.  How the Ref or linesman never saw this still remains a mystery so I clear penalty was not forthcoming.


I saw this from 25 yards away and so did Ernie from a few feet and I think he was cautioned for dissent when he pointed out that the Ref was a “%$@$&”.


James ran and ran all afternoon and had a couple of good chances but killed a pigeon with one shot and hit a Boeing 474 with the other.


Monash were also putting some good moves together and disaster struck with about 15 minutes to go when we had one of those ball watching moments!


We failed to clear a corner and rather than blast the ball back in – two Monash players executed a lovely one-two before slotting the ball into corner of the net.  Only Brian seemed to react to the threat unfortunately and couldn’t do anything to stop it.  So all of our good work appeared to be undone.


We didn’t drop our heads though and pushed forward for the equalizer.  Monash also continued to press for a second.


With a few minutes to go it looked like it was all over, then the ball fell to Dave Clarkson on the half volley some way out and he couldn’t have hit it sweeter!


The ball flew through the air and appeared to be just about to dip under the cross bar when the keeper managed to get a fingertip to it – push it onto the bar and over.


And that was it! A moment of glory gone and we lost 1-0.


Although it’s no consolation I think this would rank as one of our best performances of the season. Every single Lane Cove West player tackled well, passed well and contested everything. We just couldn’t put the ball in the net for the first time apparently in two years!


So we slip to six with another hard game against Northbridge B on Saturday but if we play like we did against Monash and stick the ball in the net – we can beat anyone.


James was Man of the Match for another of his non-stop performances, yours truly picked up 2nd and Brian 3rd.


Bring on Northbridge B!