What do you do on a hot Saturday afternoon in March? You go work up a thirst playing in the oldest expat derby in Saigon. Saints showed great promise pre season by winning the Ashes and the delayed Cup during the pre season but that early promise fizzled out.
This was our third league encounter this season and they had yet to register a win despite having a strong squad. That’s sport! Before the game, both coaches and captains met with the referee (and Linh to translate) to ensure he knew that he was in charge and that he had support from both clubs. Both squads then lined up and observed a minute’s silence for our Viking brother, Peter, who passed away tragically in Jakarta. Rejoice at Odin’s table in Valhalla, Peter.
The game began in typical Raiders v Saints fashion with both teams trying to get the upper hand. Saints two big centre backs using their brawn in an attempt to intimidate our twin strike force of Wissy and Hoggy. At the other end of the field our back four dealt with the Saints long ball and occasional break away. Our midfield battled away with Magnus and Mariano holding the middle battleground.
With 11 mins on the clock Paulo at right back decided that it was time to put his stamp on the game. Wins a ball and then looks up and slots a perfect ball through the Saints lines for Hoggy to pivot away from his marker and race towards goal. He unleashes a perfect strike beyond the hapless Saints keeper. Welcome back the old Hoggy!
Raiders continued to probe for the remainder of the first half but were unable to get a reward. A few words from the coach at half time and Raiders refocused for the second half and pushed for that elusive second. Saints got more confidence the longer the game went on and equalised in the 18th minute of the second half.
They thought they smelled blood in the water and were shouting about finishing us off. Ha! Three minutes later Kevin swings in a corner from the left and Saints head it out…but only to the edge of the box. Time pauses, Matrix style…Mariano catches the ball on his chest, spins and unleashes an overhead bicycle kick into the top corner. Best goal this observer has seen in the SIFL.
Surely that finishes things. Five minutes into stoppage time of the second half and Kevin Mirko decided…actually didn’t decide as that would involve some thought…to play keep ball and draw the Saints into our six yard area.
Somehow Mirko touches the ball twice and the ref awards a freekick. We block the shot but instead of launching the clearance towards the Hanoi highway we fumble the ball about in the six yard area until a Saints player finally pokes the ball into our net.
The referee restarts the game and blows the final whistle.
So, why am I writing the match report? I applied the double jeopardy rule and didn’t want to punish anyone twice for the same crime 😉 …and I was responsible for miscommunication that led to us playing in our black kit from last season. The day did finish on a high note with a big club gathering at our sponsor bar Dtwo where the boot reappeared alongside our old friend Wild Turkey. Everyone had at least one too many and some managed to file some late-night reports at The Office after witnessing Hoggy and Myles giving a masterclass in ‘miss spent youth’ skills by taking the pool trophy!