Last years champions FCFC faced Raiders on Friday night, and it was fair to say pre-game that everyone who has played in the fixture before expected a game of quality, fire and maybe even plenty of goals in there. Whilst the game had plenty (too much) fire, sadly it was lacking in the rest!
Raiders did start the game trying to press their opponents from the off, following the instructions of interim coach Kevin and their efforts did make it hard for FCFC to create any chances. It appeared like Raiders had the balance of play, but players did seem isolated at times when in possession of the ball. Some good work down the left-hand side saw Sipho getting forward, good balls went into the box but sadly there was nobody on the end of things to challenge the FCFC defence. Wisdom and Emma both out on the sidelines were surely watching on thinking about what could have been had they been in the mix.
At the back, Yuya was making his first SIFL league start, and the games MOM for the day did well. He was aggressive in the tackle and his pace was a good partner for the tortoise Jimmy. Although, had it not been for the old man’s antics, he was definitely himself in the running for the MOM award. In fact, the defence was rarely tested and Florian too back in the fold did well. FCFC struggled to carve out many chances and only had a few shots from distance, they definitely wasted a glorious opportunity when they intercepted a short pass from Yuya, 4 vs 2 bearing down on goal their striker opted to strike from 25 yards and see his effort easily collected by Khang in goal.
At the other end, Raiders did break away and a rare move down the right saw Chris fire a ball across the goal, had it not been for a late FCFC touch it would have been on a plate for yours truly at the back post. Looking back at the replay after the game… why I didn’t get across the front of the defender is beyond me, but as I am writing the match report this is probably part of the reason! Good link-up play between Jono, Clem and Chris brought a chance for Chris to fire a shot from the edge of the box, a nice move that was parried over by the keeper. The resulting corner led to a chance for Raiders… and a goal.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing… why didn’t Hogg move onside… why did he not check his shoulder to see nobody was behind him and move away from the ball.. all good questions. As I did neither, the linesman and referee judged that the ball had touched an offside striker, which is something I also failed to achieve on the day.. Friday’s game Vs Hotshots could not come sooner right now, to put this result and personal performance to bed. The goal was disallowed 0-0 it remained.
Soon after, the steam train, Bram joined the pitch and immediately made an impact. In much of the first half Raiders seemed isolated in possession and far away from one another on the pitch, its hard to pinpoint what’s happening when on the pitch and perhaps no clearer from the side, maybe we’re not clicking just yet, it will come and when it does you can see the signs of what can happen. Magnus battled well and was good on the ball all game, his work won the ball in the midfield and pushed it to Jono, a forward pass to Hoggy and then laid back from the ball to be pushed through to Bram, away he went bearing down on goal, squaring for Chris to tap in. Replays are hard to see, but from on the pitch, it was felt he was well onside, the sideline saying the same. However, it was the referee who had the say. The goal was disallowed, 0-0. Half time!
At half time there were several instructions given, players having their input to try and get closer to one another on the pitch and after Clem had dropped into the midfield in the first half, the Raiders were getting more of the ball. However, the second half seemed to just develop into a bit of a messy affair. Stoppage after stoppage, free kicks, play-acting, foul play and a lack of quality led to a poor game for all to watch.
Indiscipline on and off the pitch from both sides overshadowed proceedings which always makes it hard for referees, and perhaps even more for the fella in the middle on Friday. Nevertheless, the incident that resulted in a sending-off for both sides will surely be looked upon with regret by those involved, at some point, it felt like the kettle had been boiling for a while and just waiting for the button to switch. Off goes Jimmy at that moment, a harsh but fair ending to a good game for him.
Raiders then still tried to push with some energy, but to no avail and were perhaps lucky when Mirko also pulled out a decent save when FCFC had a breakaway chance. As the game was coming to a close, frustrations were seen on and off the pitch, perhaps a result of an additional 2 points getting away from the team. Had we been more discipline, could we have had a different outcome, possibly?
To the lads who didn’t get on, well done for sticking and supporting the team. It can’t have been an easy watch. We do learn more from experiences like this and the club will be looking to address the discipline both on the sideline and on the pitch. Roll on Friday, the quicker the game comes the best chance we have to blast away this ugly memory and show what we are capable of on the pitch.