A super soaraway Saturday afternoon in Singapore's premier amateur football league saw us pitted, once again, against my particular favourite opponents for another round of mental joustery. It's is always a classic encounter against this lot, and once again the referees assistants did not disappoint! HAH HAH! You thought I was gonna say Casuals, who were our actual opponents! A classic gag to open this week, I think you will all agree. However, that's actually the last time I'm gonna mention this as I truly can't be arsed anymore but let's just say I am expecting these Alex Ferguson style mind-games to seep into the cerebral cortex of our flag-waiving brethren so maybe we'll start getting some consistency and the odd correct decision which can help the referee, in this case Rob who was excellent as usual. And I mean decisions for the other teams as well, not just us. Correct ones will do. That is all. And breathe. Sorry, needs to be said. And on with the game! As mentioned in Casuals report it was a patchy first 22 mins or so, but the Lions were starting to find their feet when a well worked bit of work on the left hand side saw the ball whipped across the front of the box and a shot found it's way through a ruck of players to nestle into Anders' bottom-right hand corner to hand the Casuals the lead. Water break and regroup saw the Lions come out of the traps and the gaffer's inspired decision to make Brian O'Reilly O'Reilly wash the kit if he didn't score worked wonders when he erm scored. The first capitalising on a break off the ball where he had the entire Casuals half to run into, round the 'keeper and equalise. Noice! His second was a peach, a low shot from the far side of the box low into the 'keeper's left hand side made it 2-1 Lions at HT. The second half was very competitive with a couple of missed chances on either side in the first 20 mins, one in particular from Casuals which was blazed over the bar from the six yard line was a let-off. A telling moment then came when Anders had a massive brain-fart and gave away a penalty to let Casuals back into the game. I'm having one now mind you so who am I to criticise. Lions should have won with three excellent chances in the last 10 mins, McHugh narrowly missing a low-cross and a cannon coming back off the bar and bouncing just in front of the line in the dying seconds. Would have been tough on Casuals. MOTM for the Lions - Brian O'Reilly O'Reilly and for Casuals was Ben at the back who was excellent all day.
Casuals came into the Gaelic game low on confidence after two emphatic losses and with injuries or absentees all over the pitch. This was a game that tested the commitment of the Casual boys. With the likes of Ben and Greg returning from injury just in time, a limping Frazer offered to go in goal to replace Harry who had a sore ankle. A lack of quality from either team in the first 20 minutes was interrupted by Phelpsy who popped up on the edge of the box to hit a sweet left footed shot past the keeper. The slippery surface helping the ball to slide into the bottom corner. A drinks break followed, but Casuals started to chase Gaelic shadows as they picked off space in between the midfield and defence, putting pressure on Frazer to make a few saves. Inevitably one was going to go in when you give Gaelic that many chances, and in the end it was 2 that flew into the net. 2-1 half time, a different formation to give Casuals more control of the ball paid off in the first 20 minutes of the second half as Casuals were winning the first ball, most of the tackles, and stringing more than 2 passes together at a time. Then came a moment of astonishment for both teams and the ref. The ball was out wide and flicked high into the air, the Gaelic keeper came running out with his eyes on the ball but not knowing where he was going. Pushing Jake to the floor in a bid to win the ball first. Obvious foul, well converted by Jake who took penalty taking duties off the gaffer. The final 20 minutes of the match were tense for Casuals. Dogge pulling his hamstring but with no subs left he had to stand in the centre circle while the other 10 lads continued to run despite many being on empty. It's fair to say we rode our luck in these last few minutes, Scurry tipping a ball onto the crossbar before it went through Frazer's legs and cleared away, Ben making a last ditch tackle when a goal would have certainly been scored. Great effort by the Casuals boys, no question on their commitment this week and a much needed confidence booster against a tough yet quality Gaelic team. Thanks to the Gaelic boys who proved another stern test yet again, in a fair but competitive game, refereed well by Rob in the middle. MOM Casuals: many contenders on effort alone, but Smithy proved the difference at the back keeping Gaelic limited to 2 and taking out Greg in the process. MOM Gaelic: McEnaney was also solid at the back and kept cleaning up any long balls Casuals threw at him.