Casuals returned to Cosmo Season 2018/19 after a long and uneventful New Years break. First game back of 2019 and many players seemed keen to get their foot back on the ball and play some great football. Sadly the attitude that turned up Friday was below par. The game started well, plenty of movement off the ball, the ball retention was great, we were shifting through the gears, got a great goal - great link up play down the the left found Andy Dyne with plenty of space in the box, but selfishly squared the ball to Joe, who slotted home with ease. Casuals 1-0 up, and then shifted up to second gear.. but we somehow stalled. 3 quick goals before half time and we knew it was going to be a tough ask to get back in the game. A few changes at the half to try to spring some life into the game, but sadly Casuals were again caught a bit off the pace and willingness to work was lacking. Sadly we lost Sanders (GK) to an injury, which forced us to swapping him out with Mark (played in goals for Crystal Palace) Sherwin to step in. Sadly his short spell in goals at Palace became apart very quickly as the Vikings added two more. Thanks for helping out Mark! Casuals added one late and I think it would be fair to say we were all over Vikings for the last 10-15mins, but it was very much a case of too little too late. Thanks for a competitive game Vikings, good luck for the rest of the season.
Intent on securing their first three points of 2019, a mixture of young and stalwart Vikings travelled to UWC Dover to meet FC Casuals on a pleasant Friday evening. After a Vikings ‘get together’ earlier in the week the group decided that we would set up with a 4-4-2 formation and planned to get the ball down and play. The starting line-up saw a blend of youth and experience, Maahin made his starting debut on the right, Jonas slotted into the left side of midfield and Jules partnered the goal getting Meli up top - all went on to produce effective performances that were far beyond their tender years. Domino and MVD were assigned to take control of the centre battleground and Elbo, Lasse and Henrock 1 & 2 were selected to protect former handball star Dragsbeak in the Viking goal. There appeared to be a togetherness about the squad and something felt different before the game! The encounter got underway and for the first 15 min the ball was passed around well by both teams with little between them. A Casuals attack down the left resulted in one of their attackers working his way free in the box and he unselfishly squared it to his unmarked partner who dispatched it with ease, 1-0 down after a positive start was not a good feeling. In past weeks that would have been the signal for us to lose confidence and concede further but the excellent Domino, some of his passing was of the highest quality, controlled the troops and his instruction to keep playing paid maximum dividends as the evening progressed. Vikings continued to push and probe and MVD imposed himself on the game by winning challenge after challenge – providing the platform for some strong attacking moves. Jules started to find his feet and gave our attack fresh options, Maahin showed glimpses of his speed and fight down the flank and Meli was the constant threat that every Cosmo defender has found difficult to cope with this season. Some good interplay through the midfield saw our ‘goal getter’ go through and there was never any doubt that it would not result in a goal, 1-1 and nothing more than we deserved. What followed up to half time was amongst some of the best football we have played this season, composed and controlled but aggressive at the right times. We took the lead after Jules chased a lost cause and we were rewarded for his willingness to do so by the last defender who hooked the ball high into the night sky before it dropped unbelievably into the Casuals net, the lead was ours and our confidence was high. Meli netted his second before half-time and we lead comfortably 3-1 at the break. There was an expectancy that Casuals would come out fighting at the start of the second half and our opponents did not disappoint, it took some last ditch defending to deny them a goal or two and Drags pulled out some good saves and punches to keep our lead intact. We continued to fashion some good chances of our own and Maahin was denied a debut goal as he was harshly adjudged offside after a Meli shot. However, we didn’t have to wait too long to get our fourth and Meli’s third when the striker delivered for us once again. Casuals lost their keeper midway through the half when he popped a shoulder and was duly replaced by an outfield player who did extremely well until Meli hit a speculative shot from the left which bobbled past him, giving us a 5-1 lead. Casuals never gave up and played some of their best football in the latter parts of the game, they were rewarded close to the end of the game when a cut back from the left side was tapped in by an oncoming Casuals player. The game came to a close and the three points were ours. Casuals are a busy team and have pace and power throughout their side, this game was not to go their way but they will certainly pose problems for teams throughout the remainder of the season. Thanks to the officials who had a tough job in keeping control of a fiercely fought contest. For us, we need to maintain this level of performance and attitude moving forward, the ‘young guns’ certainly proved their worth in this game, displaying great verve and energy; that would not have been possible had it not been for the guidance and efforts of some of the senior players. Mark Van Dalen was MOM and this was richly deserved as he was everywhere, he looked absolutely shattered when he came off at the end as he had given everything– the way it should be! Congratulations to Meli who has now scored 19 league goals and sits at the top of the golden boot charts, some achievement as he has missed a number of games this season. My personal thanks to each and every Viking that contributed to the game, supporters included, as this got the weekend off to an excellent start- let’s make it a habit!