On a cool Friday evening the Raiders took to the field to face Saigon Hotshots. In the previous season a bare Raiders squad saw the Hotshots take 6 points from them and inflict their first run of two defeats in a row for about five years. Revenge was on the cards in a big way.
Yours truly arrived late. My boots fell off my bike on the way to Tri Hai and I ended up driving half way down Nguyen Van Linh on the wrong side of the road to reclaim them. Obviously no one cares about me risking my life for the cause. Henceforth, me writing this match report. I arrived to find the Raiders in their usual Friday night pre match lull and proceeded to raise morale by being my usual jovial self. Morale heightened by the time Collin arrived from his referee’s meeting.
The pre match talk took on the usual tone. Communicate, do your jobs, battle hard and be clinical when opportunities arise. The Raiders lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Kang in goal, Flo at RB, Yuya at CB alongside Kevin Fox, Myself at left back. The midfield trio was; Kang Choi (making his league debut brrrrrrrap!) Jono, and Magnus. Up top we had a lethal front three of Clemens at LW, Wissy at CF and Chris Van Hagen at RW.
The game started with Raiders pushing up high and pressing Hotshots into mistakes. Regularly the keeper was forced to go long and everytime he did the Raiders regained possession. After the Raiders keeping possession for the majority of the first 7-8 minutes Clem received the ball on the left flank and decided to take the game to hotshots. He drove forward pulling wider before unleashing a strike from distance on the left, catching the keeper by surprise and seeing it nestle into the bottom right. 1-0 Raiders.
In the tenth minute a brilliant counter attack saw the Raiders presented with a golden opportunity to double their lead. Yuya won the ball on the right flank from their striker and laid it back down the line with a beckheel to Jono. Jono laid it back to yours truly who knocked it into Kang with a shout of ‘turn’! Kang Choi let it roll across his body and then sprayed it into Magnus who then lofted a lovely ball out to the right flank to Chris. Who drove down the link and hit a switch ball to Jono who had somehow made it back up the left wing. Jono got caught in two minds over whether to dink it or take it round the keeper. In the end he did neither and it came to nothing. But a sign of things to come though…
To complete a hectic ten minute spell Hotshots managed to somehow equalise. A ball over the top from their midfielders set their number 9 on his way. He controlled the ball, taking it well to be fair and then managing to take it round an onrushing Kang. He then struck it with his left but Yuya had recovered to block it on the line. In jammy fashion is bounced right back to their number 9 who tucked it away 1-1.
The game progressed in a similar way it had in the first ten minutes. The Raiders on top keeping the ball and the hotshots looking to counter with a long ball over the top when they could. Hotshots conceded a free kick deeper in hour half. Kevin played a ball to Magnus from the free kick and then Magnus laid it into clem who took it on the half turn and played a through ball to Chris who was coming in from the right wing. Chris raced onto it, slowed down, steadied himself and then dinked it delicately over the keeper to take the lead for the Raiders. 2-1.
The Raiders saw out the half keeping possession with Hotshots having their spell. The half time team talk was essentially calm down and more of the same. Yuya came off to Nayan with Wisdom coming off for Hoddy and the Raiders keeping the same shape.
The second half began with both sides sharing the ball and nothing of note really happening. Then the game snapped into life. A ball over the top caught the back four out as we were way too high up the pitch in an effort to regain the ball. A midfielder who had made a run from deep bore down on the ball as it made it hit the ground. Kang rushed out and in an effort to win the ball caught the midfielder sending him over. Red card. Raiders down to ten men.
The Raiders reshuffled with Kang Choi making way for Hank to come on for his own league debut in a high pressured situation. The Hotshots huffed and puffed but couldn’t get their tactics or gameplan right to take advantage of having ten men. At times they found themselves under attack from us as we made 10 men look like 12 at times as we refused to give up the lead.
Deep into the second half Nayan won the ball in the edge of our box and then the ball broke to Chris, Chris laid it onto Hoggy who knocked a first time ball back into Clem, Chris carried on his run down the left flank and Clem found him with a sweeping ball through the channel between full back and centre back. With their back four all over the place Hoggy found himself in acres of space on the right hand side. Chris laid it into him and Hoggy finished under the keeper with ease. 3-1 Raiders.
The rest of the game saw the Raiders winning it and keeping possession best we could to run down the clock. Hotshots didn’t threaten. Job done. Onto Tran Nguyne next. Saigon is RED!
MOTM went to Clem for his goal and assist along with his tireless work in multiple positions throughout the game. Turkey went to yours truly for being late. Special shout out to Kang Choi and Hank. Young lads stepped in and were vital in an important victory. Well done lads!