NTV too good for Raiders
On a cool evening at Phuoc Long stadium, a spirited Raiders were eventually beaten by a slick, yet not special, NTV side who are just one point behind joint leaders Olympic and Saigon FC. It was a great that promised so much but unfortunately ended without any points.
With defensive options limited, Raiders took to the field with Miquel and Tarek, making his long awaited come back from an abdominal strain, at centre backs with Meyer and Andersen supporting on the wings. And it wasn’t long before they were tested by a pacey and youthful attacking NTV. The first chance fell to NTV. VU, who made some wonderful saves, was called into action after 10 minutes, parrying a fiercely struck drive from the edge of the area before blocking the rebound after the attacking side got to the ball first. Two minutes later and the dead lock was broken. Raiders lost the ball midway in their half and a snap shot from the edge of the area beat VU to his left. Instead of folding, Raiders responded in magnificent style. First, a long ball by Harrold drifted over the right back and Bennit at full flow beat the defender to the ball before slotting home under the keeper. 3 minutes later and Raiders were ahead. Bergan whipped in a lovely ball to the near post and Tarek bundled the ball home. NTV were shell shocked and soon conceded a third. Miquel rolled a ball to Hoff, who didn’t look threatening with his back to goal, 35 yards out. However he turned and unleashed a bullet into the top of the net leaving the keeper with no chance. Clearly frustrated, NTV became petulant with little fouls and plenty of diving creeping into their game. McDonnell, not known for his aggressive play, found himself in the book for no one knows exactly what and Mahkne soon followed him in similar circumstances. As it looked like Raiders would go in 3-1 up at half time, disaster struck as a clumsy challenge in the box lead to a penalty being awarded which was cooly slotted home.
The second half started in exactly the same fashion as the first ended which dealt the Raiders a bitter blow. A free flowing move resulted in an NTV having space in the box, and a sharp turn and stray leg bought penalty number 2 for the home side which was emphatically thumped into the top corner. Suddenly the title chaser’s tails were up and the Turkeys were under the pump. They probed both flanks and quickly established a 3-5 lead with slick passing down the flanks and crosses into their on rushing strikers, each time leaving VU with no chance. 20 minutes into the second half and Raiders finally got a foothold back into the game. Andersen, who had a great game at right back, put a pin point ball into Bennit who couldn’t control his volley from 18 yards. Unfortunately, NTV responded to the threat immediately and snuffed out any hopes Raiders had of salvaging a point with another flowing counter attack and adding a sixth. Miquel, now on the left of midfield, scored a good goal from the edge of the area to pull one back before NTV put the icing on the cake with their 7th after a dubious call wasn’t given for a clear foul on Payne at centre back. 7-4 being the final score.
Although not the score the Raiders wanted, a lot of positives can be taken from the game. Tarek, voted MOM by the opposition, had great game on his comeback, Meyer on debut showed endless energy on the flanks and Hoff and Loeffler were impressive in the midfield. Payne covered in centre back and at times the passing and possession was as good as it’s been. Next is Star United with a win essential for the Turkeys.