Scorching heat at Turf City, and the heat was soon notched up a few degrees....after a tentative opening from both sides a Latini diagonal pass was dispatched with a neat touch. But dispatched where? Referee and linesman were off the opinion that the shot went wide, while Latini claimed that the shot had gone through a hole in the net. Long deliberation, and no VAR, but decision was "no goal". From my angle it was impossible to see, but Swiss defenders agreed that the goal should have stood. (note: I find it totally unacceptable that Turf City is not able to provide proper nets on their pitches. It's really embarrassing that the league pays so much money, and then the nets are of a quality you could not even catch a very large fish).... But the Latini lead came just before the half hour: a good build up over the right wing, a crisp pass and neat finishing by Jamie. Only five minutes later Latini doubled their lead. Swiss complained that a blatant foul in the build-up was not spotted by the man in yellow. But I guess he felt sorry for the goal not given earlier. So all even now.... Just before half time we conceded another one, this one totally not necessary as we were caught in possession, two quick passes and boom. 3:0 at the break. Latini with clinical finishing. With both teams a bit short on the bench, the second half was always going to be a struggle. But Swiss upped the game and gave Latini a real run for the money. Aaron, in his first game for the team, did very well, and almost scored from close range. Hamza then converted a penalty, after Mo was brought down in the box. Hamza then had another great opportunity to make the last few minutes a real test for Latini. But it was too little, too late. We can take heart that for the first time this season we won at least one half :-). Sadly, we had a lot of players out, and two last minute drop outs (so did Latini), but we are getting closer and closer to a result.
After last week's successful outing under the Friday Night Lights, 1TM Latini returned to another scorching Saturday afternoon kick off time with the Swiss for opponents this week. Latini were focused on continuing their good form and earn 3 points in order to leapfrog a number of teams in the league and go into 3rd place, whereas the Swiss would be eager to record their first points of the season. With the CNY Holidays approaching, both sides had absences in their squads. Latini had Rory A, Yak, Scoop, Leo, Duplo and Tomoya as noticeable absences whereas the normally youthful Swiss team had been replaced with a more experienced looking 11. Even before kickoff there were some early contenders for DOD for Latini as LTG decided that business came before pleasure and was on the phone for the majority of the warm up. POB threw his hat into the DOD arena by being exceptionally late (even by his standards) due to a genuine plumbing issue. Both sides made a bright start to the encounter. Latini played some good football early on with Pet Shop and Larry purposefully passing the ball in the middle and our good movement in the final third began asking questions of the Swiss defence. It wasn't one way traffic by any stretch with the Swiss attackers causing some problems of their own in the opening exchanges. Before the first water break, it was Latini who felt they should have taken the lead only for boths goals to be ruled out by the officials. The first was a goal rightly ruled out for an offside after Lego had forced a low save from the goalkeeper only for the flag to be raised when LTG tapped in the rebound. The second was quite bizarre. Good work down the left saw Lego dispatch the cross with an accomplished volley into bottom left corner - and literally through the netting. Latini celebrated and the Swiss made their way back to the half way line. However, the linesman flagged and said, that from his viewpoint, he didn't see the ball go into the goal. The referee agreed. As the side of the goal had been unsecured, it meant the officials could only see the ball fly straight through the netting and went with their natural instinct that Lego would definitely have spurned a chance from 2 yards out. Credit to the Swiss players who said it was a goal (cue Pet Shop's nominee for DOD for being the only player on the pitch who didn't think it was a goal). The referee was undeterred and stuck with his decision: no goal. Latini were enraged. The Swiss relieved. It took a while for Latini to settle after that period of play and were happy for the drinks break in order to collect ourselves and go again in the next phase of the match. And go again we did. Almost immediately after the restart, more good wing play from the former Casuals' reserve sub player, Lukito, and some tight interplay in the opponent's box, saw Lego find a yard of space and confidently dispatched his shot into the bottom right corner. This time the ball did stay in the goal so there could be no argument. 1-0 Latini. The 2nd came soon after as a long ball over the top was misjudged by the Swiss centre back and found its way to LTG. LTG cut inside the defence and drilled a well hit shot from the edge of the area that slotted into the keeper's bottom right corner. 2-0 Latini. The 3rd came before half time with a Swiss attack broken down well from the energetic Larry. The ball was knocked back to CFD, who played a great first time pass down the line and over the Swiss defence to Lukito. Lukito drilled the ball to the back post, where 'Fox in the box' Lego was on hand to head in and leave the goalkeeper with no chance. 3-0 Latini. HT. Latini made a few changes at half time with the Marathon Man, Woody, being replaced by the Italian Stallion, Dani. Dani's movement and touches were class and he was unfortunate not to get on the score sheet. The second half was not one for the spectators as an element of complacency infected Latini's play. We all agreed with Woody's insight form the sidelines, "Our game would definitely have been last on MOTD." We had some very good chances to increase our lead, but in the end they were either saved well by the Swiss keeper or we were not clinical enough as we opted to try and walk the ball into the goal. The second half began to fade away into nothingness until a decent through ball by the Swiss caused a tangle of legs between Lukito and their winger in the box and a penalty was awarded. Lukito can consider himself unlucky to have been yellow carded (but as he ruined POB's opportunity for a clean sheet, Lukito gets a DOD nomination). Their striker, dispatched gratefully. 3-1. FT. Overall, Latini can be pleased that we achieved the 3 points that see us move into 3rd place over Chinese New Year. Credit goes to the Swiss, who were full of running, enterprise and made the game competitive for the full 90 minutes. With more performances like today, we are certain those elusive points won't be too far away from you. Our next game is against the Lions and hopefully an opportunity for Latini to put some pressure on the top two. It was great to see Tommy and Koh back after injury layoffs and special thanks go to Tard's Army for coming down to watch. MOM - Lego for excellent work rate and 3 great finishes (although only 2 counted) MOM for Swiss - No. 5 DOD - Blind Pet Shop for not seeing the first ‘goal’ go in KIT - Lego BALLS - POB