Aioli Monkeys turned in a much improved performance against GSAS after last week’s horror show against Nippon, but still needed a last minute equaliser to take home a point. We shuffled the pack a bit for this one to try to give us a bit more of an attacking threat, lining up in a 442 formation. Imagine the fun I had trying to explain to a squad of 4 French, 2 Basque, 1 Catalan, 1 Italian, 1 Dutch and 1 Portuguese that we were abandoning the tiki-taka and going with a four four f***ing two. At least the 3 English and 2 Serbs were on board with the new plan. Despite the scepticism of some of our continental Europeans, the plan worked well early on and we got ourselves in front through a header from a corner. A proper way to score a goal, and great for Joe to get off the mark on debut. We did well to nullify the dangerous GSAS front men for the rest of the half and should really have gone in at HT further ahead after failing to take advantage of a great chance following a defensive error. So far so good at half time. All we had to do was keep doing what we were doing and not implode... Oh well. With a few of the lads tiring, we struggled to maintain the same energy levels in the second half which invited more pressure from GSAS. Despite not looking in a huge amount of danger, we let them back in just before the water break when Basti W did well to get on the end of a back post cross. We went 2-1 down shortly after when the quick winger got in behind, and at this point it was looking like another frustrating afternoon for the Monkeys. To our credit, we kept playing and created some decent chances in the last 15; the GSAS keeper pulling off one particularly good save from a header, and a couple of other efforts from Joe and JJ going close. Then, deep into the (totally justifiable) 8 minutes of injury time, Addy chased a ball down the left from Seb. Realising a cross with his left foot wouldn’t even reach the penalty area, he cut back on to his right and “whipped” a ball to the back post (accusations of it actually being a shot were vehemently rejected) where none other than the BBQ hero from the week before, Sergio Lopes, was lurking to head home the equaliser. What drama. All in all 2-2 was probably a fair result. We were better in the first half, and GSAS were better in the second. Big thanks to Ivan for taking the gloves. No evidence to suggest he isn’t a proper keeper on this showing (apart from the questionable pink t-shirt he decided to wear). MOM for us was Mikel. Excellent at centre back, especially considering it’s the first time he’s played there. MOM for GSAS - Jan was very composed in the middle.
Following a successful Midweek encounter with our Purple Monkey friends 2 days before, GAS went into this with full confidence of securing another 3 points, especially considering the return of our fabulous Basti & Basti combo and with Mitch on the wings. However, it all turned out a little sour, starting from some unnecessary quarrels pre and post game and some sloppy behaviour in between. The game couldn’t have started any worse. While our passing was crisp and fluent two days before with almost the same team and opponent, GAS was not able to complete 2 passes in a row across the entire park. To add to the frustration, GAS conceded a goal from a set piece that was delivered in slow motion, yet a lack of aggressiveness in marking gave the PM striker all the time in the world to place the ball where he intended. It seemed like Purple Monkeys were just a little more committed and aggressive in all aspects of the game, winning most headers and 1 on 1s…their attacking 4 a constant nuisance with their little Spanish maestro in midfield having too much time and space. After the water break, GAS came out fuming and started putting PM under pressure, now with the majority of ball possession and numerous attacks, but the final through ball or finish was rather disappointing, rarely testing the keeper, who wasn’t even a proper keeper. 0:1 half time but we knew this was far from over as we were clearly in the ascendant. 2nd half and we continued where we left of, pushing PM towards their own half and now with some better passing but we still failed to utilise our quick wingers Arnaud, Mitch and Dee effectively. Finally, a beautiful combination of passes led to Arnaud (or Mitch) deliver an inch-perfect cross to Basti W., who headed home the well deserved equaliser from close range. After that, it was all GAS, with Basti K. testing the keeper from a free kick and finally another well crafted combo between the Bastis and Arnaud helping Mitch to tap the ball in the ball to make it 2:1. At this point, GAS really should have sealed it, while PM rarely ever coming close to testing Joe. For some reason, however, the ref decided to play 8 minutes of stopping time and ironically, it was in the 98th minute where GAS conceded a totally unnecessary goal with literally the final whistle. Instead of keeping the ball in our ranks, GAS lost the ball in midfield, Mark Addy recouped a long ball on our right defence, and he was allowed to run with the ball until he delivered the ball to the far post, where again, marking was sloppy and their striker was allowed to header the ball in from close range. Massive frustration and disappointment for GAS, a big point for PM, who - in fairness - never gave up and capitalised on our sloppiness. Thanks for a fair game played in the right spirit. MOM for GAS is a tough one, as no-one really excelled, but at least Jan was consistent as always, calm on the ball with accurate passing, and helping out defensively when needed. MOM PM: The little Spanish maestro in midfield with that perfect wavy hair that never faltered in the scorching heat\