‘Good things come to those who wait’ they say, like Hoggy’s return from injury, Myles’ return from finding himself, and erm…this match report.
A full 2 weeks from the fixture having been played, the writer only hopes for an epic fail within a comprehensive Raiders victory today, against the S**ts, so turkey duties can be honourably passed on. Worth reminding everyone at this juncture, mind, that I believe the only Turkey writers this year have been James Q, Kenny (s’ sht penaltyyyyy!) and Foxy, so people either need to learn how to read and write or pay for a tower or 2 in absence of a match report.
Reports can neither confirm nor deny that our previous ‘enforcer’, Jonas, has foregone beer, bants and any semblance of aggression as he swaps humour for positivity, light and modelling on the ‘gram. With fixtures fast running out, Raiders approached the Sporting game knowing only a win would really keep the title within their reach.
With several key defenders out through injury or holidays, Coach Colin switched to the favoured formation of yesteryear, 4-4-2, with Bam Bam Bram dropping deep to the midfield alongside Magnus and Mariano and Foxy making a wrinkled yet savvy centre back pairing. The game sparked into life soon after the start with Hamed pouncing on a rebound from Mirko to fire Sporting ahead.
Fortunately, this lasted no time at all as barely 3 minutes later, a Fox corner right into ‘the mixer’, evaded the keeper’s punch and Hoggy was there to scuff home the loose ball. Raiders and Hogg, fired up from this quick response, smelt blood and a quick ball from Bram Bam between the centre back and left back released our evergreen striker to show his quick feet haven’t deserted him yet and coolly slotted home under O’Brien.
A long-ranger from JV, ‘Watch the backs and middles, yo!’ was only rising higher and Wissy almost found Jono with a cross-shot as Raiders continued the high tempo. The game became end-to-end in a frantic final 20 minutes of the first half, with Mirko making up for his error earlier by saving well to not one but two Sporting attempts. The finest, he produced a desperate stop, somehow clawing the ball away, despite Hamed’s cries that it had crossed the line.
In what might have been a game-changer, Raiders scored what they thought was a fair third, with Wissy’s shot saved only for the rebound to fall to Jono’s feet. Whilst he did scuff this attempt home, the linesman waved his flag. Not today, wee man! This seemed to only anger Sporting further as they began to take a foothold in the game; Mirko produced another good stop as #32 showed Fox a sparkling clean pair of heels and #10 slipped away from all marking to narrowly head over.
Half Time – Saigon Raiders 2 – Sporting 1 A high-octane thriller of a first-half meant that Coach Colin was somewhat happy with the display and harsh words were rarely, kept to a minimum.
Hoggy’s lack of game time meant a bit of an enforced break so Raiders resumed the game with a few changes compared to the first. #10 made up for his earlier missed chance for Sporting, finding a small amount of space on the edge of the penalty box to poke the ball beyond the despairing Mirko and into the bottom corner.
2-2 after 5 minutes of the 2nd half, and all to play for. A long ball from Fox found Emma and his low cross reached Wissy. Sadly, he was running way too fast to make it count and could only impersonate Bambi. #10 for Sporting continued his fine game as he went narrowly wide before finding space at the back post to beat Mirko again for Sporting to edge ahead.
He then completed his hat trick, pouncing on uncertainty between Fox and Mirko to rifle home Sporting’s 4th. The action wasn’t over as Sporting scored a 5th to seal the win, before Raiders got a consolatory 3rd, Ema scoring from the spot after Wissy was hauled down on the breakaway.
A tough result after a bright first half and one which showed such potential. Ultimately, Sporting’s younger, fresher legs and higher quality options from the bench proved their worth. Raiders go again, knowing that the title might be beyond them but remaining the closest challengers to an impressive Sporting side.