The Vikings returned from the extended mid-season break with much of the talk about showing some spirit, fighting to the end and maybe trying to pick up a couple of points before the end of the season. The mentality of the team turned 180 degrees, however, after the impressive friendly win against the Japanese last week has shown what this team can really do.
Coming into the first league game of the post-covid times then we were up against Sporting who are foolishly attempting to chase down the Raiders in top spot, but the newly confident and hungry Vikings went into this expecting 3-points and to provide a bit of assistance to our Raider brothers. We set up in the usual 4-4-2 with the inspiring words of Nick and Craig ringing in our ears as we ran onto the pitch and in to war.
The game started well with solid shape from the Vikings and Jonas and Eric winning every ball up top to provide a platform for attack. Plenty of good passing and chances created whilst soaking up the fairly one-dimensional attacks from Sporting. Vikings were, however, behind early on as a corner was not cleared quickly enough and Sporting poked it in. Shortly after, Sporting’s number 50 then made his claim for an Academy Award with a highly theatrical tumble in the box over the outstretched leg of Captain Adam. Penalty was well taken, Sporting 2-0 up.
The Vikings will not be easily beaten, however, and were back in the game within a few minutes after some smart one-two passes, Tippy found himself at the edge of the area and with the Sporting keeper in no man’s land. Tippy had the composure to pick his spot and beautifully lob the ball into the far corner. Excellent play and Vikings back on the front foot. Vikings continued to press and were awarded with a free kick from a straight angle. It’s almost as if the management team saw this scenario coming as we had ran through this in training just a few days earlier. The training obviously paid off and the ball fell kindly to Adam’s feet, the ball striking the back of the net and the now growing fanbase sent into raptures. 2-2
The Vikings were now on top and had the wind in their sails, so it was little surprise when the third goal came. Some more great play up top with the big man-little man combo of Jonas and Ricky tying the Sporting defence in knots and Jonas found himself at the edge of the box with their keeper once again deciding to go walkabout. Jonas, like Tippy before him, had the composure to pick his spot and to deftly lift the ball over the keeper into the far corner. Vikings 3-2 up, the comeback complete, and still only 40 minutes played. The sidelines now full of Raiders who had heard through the grapevine of something magic happening on the pitch.
The second half was a much tighter affair with Sporting growing into the game, creating more and more chances as the Vikings tired. It was not all one-way however and the Vikings front line were causing just as many problems for the Sporting defence with some great chances to extend the lead even further. Jonas took one for the team with a beautiful black eye courtesy of a Sporting elbow, another in the long line of injuries suffered from the aggressive Sporting boys who were less than happy to be nullified by the Vikings.
In the end the constant pressure took its toll and an innocuous ball into the box bounced in the danger zone between defender and keeper and the ball was poked home for the equaliser. Sporting finished the game strong looking to take the winner but the team held firm and the game finished 3-3. In the end, a draw was a fair, if a little disappointing result and a sign of who this Vikings team now is. We move on to the next league game in two weeks and will be looking to get that win.
MoM for the ever present and ever wiling Magnus who dominated the ball from centre midfield for the full 90 minutes.
Turkey to James T for almost scoring the goal of the season, just at the wrong end, only saved from the ultimate embarrassment by an excellent save from Friso.