Both sides contributed admirably to a hard-fought fixture at Dempsey, with SCC doing just enough to edge it 1-0. Vikings started the game the livelier of the two sides, and their intensity put SCC under pressure in possession. That, combined with the hard, bouncy pitch, meant SCC couldn’t quite find the passing rhythm that has often served them so well. SCC still managed to threaten the Vikings’ goal, with Liam Shotton shooting wide, and Dom O’Shea unable to get enough on a lob over the keeper. Although Vikings caused some aerial problems, they only managed to create one clear chance in the first half, when a cutback was side-footed wide when the Vikings midfielder should have hit the target. 0-0 at half-time seemed fair though. Vikings started the second half strongly again, but as the game wore on, it was SCC who looked the more likely to score. Andrew Hutcheon was denied by a sprawling save from Bart de Visser, and the keeper somehow managed to get a hand to O’Shea’s follow up to keep Vikings level. But there was nothing he could do 15 minutes from time when O’Shea found space in the box and found the bottom left corner of the net from 15 yards to put SCC 1-0 up. Vikings caused a couple of late scares for SCC, who can thank Ronnie Smollett for a fine save late on to earn all 3 points. It wasn’t a pretty game, but well done to both sides for such a tightly fought encounter.
Vikings had been looking forward to the clash with SCC for some weeks and were confident about making the trip over to Dempsey Field to visit the champions. Despite being deprived of our goal-getting striker Meli, who had received a double yellow the week before, the line-up was encouragingly strong. We were definitely up for the challenge and wanted to see how we would fair against the stronger teams in the league when we can draw on a majority of our players. The early eve kick off was welcomed; temperatures earlier in the day had been heading north with little respite from high humidity. The game got underway with us starting with a 4-5-1 formation and intent on getting the ball wide and high into the opponents half and SCC playing a 4-4-2, but with lots of fluidity between the midfield and forwards. The game was intense throughout the first half with lots of effort by both teams but with no real clear cut chances. I think it is fair to say that the first half was relatively even where defences seemed to be on top. As coach of Vikings I was delighted with the effort, spirit and communication & encouragement we had displayed. Little needed to be changed at the half time break and there was a strong feeling that we could take something from the game. We restarted and spent the first 10 minutes in control but unable to capitalise on a few half chances. As the minutes passed SCC started to get on the ball more and there was a slight feeling that they were getting on top. Players of both teams had given their all for their respective club badges and it was inevitable that many started to tire. A couple of quick chances arrived for SCC and only a wonderful double save by Bart denied them taking the lead. At the other end we had a one on one in which the resulting shot did not trouble the impressive keeper. Moments later a break through the midfield saw the ball arrive at a strikers feet, a couple of jinks saw him get by our back-peddling defenders before scoring in off the post. With 20 min left on the clock Vikings gave it everything and wrestled back control, we looked strong again and our fighting spirit was evident for all to see. A long ball over from the left side picked out the tenacious Tjalfe who smashed a half volley towards the top corner, only an amazing save by Ronnie denied us a deserved equaliser. Right at the death we fashioned another quick move down the left sending Tjalfe through with only the keeper to beat, his shot went just wide as the on-rushing Casper could not get on the end of it. The referee, who had an excellent game, brought the game to a close with the score SCC 1 -0 Vikings. This was an excellent game to have watched and the quality and desire of both teams was highly evident. We congratulate SCC on their victory but I’m sure they know that they were involved in one hell of a game. I would like to personally thank all Vikings who showed up to the game today for their teamwork and effort, more of the same in the future please! Raven