||An unusual sight welcomed the Espanyol Elite team when they stepped into Regent Secondary this warm and breezy morning. 17 AC United players clad in blue were already all kitted up, warming up on the pitch 10 minutes before the game was to commence!
That is 17 times as many as the normal Sunday morning game!
With only 10 men to start the game, EE was faced with a formidable starting 11 from AC. Jimmy started in goal, with a backline of Azam and the returning Weisong as centrebacks, Dianto on the right and due to a lack of a better alternative, Boonk on the left. Wilfred and Marc were joined by PTI Desmond in the centre of the park, while Weijian roamed the right. The return of the natural flair of KT meant that the team had more width on the left of midfield. Upfront, Ganesh operated as the lone striker.
AC gave their under-strength opponents no quarters as they surged forward from kick off. EE were left to play short passes amongst their backline as AC erected a brick wall in front of their midfield.
The opponents though could not contain the wealth of talent in the AC ranks and were lucky to finish the 1st 20mins still in the game. Ganesh, KT and Weijian all had opportunities that were either just off the mark, or were a split second too late to finish moves off.
Once EE had their 11th man, the game changed a little. They began to launch attacks of their own, with long balls down the wings the main attacking choice. Fortunately, the backs were experienced enough to snuff out the danger.
Roy, Daniel and Jamal were brought in midway through the game to try and shake things up abit and almost immediately, Roy had a good chance when his sudden swivel (deliberate or otherwise) caught out the entire EE defence. His shot, powerful as it was, just failed to find the mark.
Desmond was controlling the midfield and had a good chance when he waltzed past 3 EE defenders but his shot hit the post. The lamppost, 10m to the right of the goal.
Azam, captain for the day, was having a fantastic game. He stopped practically everything that came at him. He even stopped a gust of wind that tried to blow past him!
Weisong, like his central defensive partner, was knocking the balls out of the air and into safety at every opportunity.
So it was amazing that at halftime, the score remained as 0-0.
Quek, now a fulltime coach, gave a summary of the 1st half to the players, including some indepth analyses into the little pockets of the game where we could improve.
Kicking off the 2nd half meant EE would be on the backfoot from the start but what a backfoot it proved to be!
Weijian, Anthony and Poon practically murdered their opposite numbers with their searing pace and within the 1st couple of minutes, could have contributed a couple of assists and a handful of goals if it wasn't for some bad luck and dubious offside calls.
Jason kept a clean sheet for 10mins and determined to keep it clean, signaled to the bench that his 'mysterious thumb injury' had a relapse and could not continue with the game. A helicopter was then present to evacuate Jason to the nearest hospital for immediate surgical attention. (At press time, he was seen playing on his Xbox.)
Jimmy came back into the game and was immediately called into action when a long ball eluded the entire AC defence. He was quickly (as quickly as Jimmy can get) off his line to nip the ball off the striker's feet.
His long punt upfield was calmly trapped by the World-Cup winning countryman Marc, and with a no look lob, set Weijian free down the centre. The pacy Chinese boy left the entire EE defence for dead and despite the distraction of Jamal's ear-drum bursting calls for the ball to be centred, Weijian calmly placed the ball under the onrushing keeper's arms into the net to put AC in front.
1-0 to AC!
EE were forced into action and aided by their accurate long balls, were beginning to threaten AC's goal for the 1st time in the game. A dipping freekick was miraculously saved by the out-stretched palm of Jimmy just as it looked like it was going to creep into the bottom left hand corner of his goal.
Fish, a 2nd half substitute for Dianto at rightback, had his hands full trying to contain 'the little speedy guy'(TLSG). He showed exactly why the team paid him such a huge paycheck whilst defending against TLSG. A long searching ball over the AC defence was picked up by TLSG and just as he was about to pull his trigger, Fish appeared from nowhere to clock the shot and subsequently clear it into touch.
Ganesh had a great chance to put the game to rest when he got the ball from midfield and with 3 touches, got past 4 defenders! His body feint sent the keeper scrambling the wrong way but somehow, his shot was still kept out by the flailing arms of the same EE keeper!
EE then had a goal ruled offside when a counter attack saw their right winger clean through. (where the hell was the leftback?!) but instead of shooting, he passed to his marginally offside teammate and the referee blew for the infringement.
The late introduction of Caleb was met with a roar of approval from his adoring fans (namely his wife and baby). He showed that he has lost none of his composure and vision as he moved the ball around the centre of midfield with ease.
As time ticked by, EE managed 1 last attack. Route 1! A freekick deep in the EE half was cannoned deep into AC's half and the entire AC defence was caught out by the distance covered. TLSG was 1st to react and despite the huge mass that is Jimmy rushing towards him, jinked past the keeper to place the ball into the empty net.
The shellshocked AC players didn't have much time to react as the referee ended the game soon after.
What a treat for the watching crowd! End to end action was the only way to describe the game! Although AC may have felt disappointed by the 2 points dropped, truth be told it was probably a fairer result than a win for either side.
With the teams in Division 5 all having a topsy turvy season, its OPEN SEASON for the title of league champions!
|Date Of Match:
||11 Jul 2010
||- AC United FC
||- ESPZEN 11 a side Football League