Fortunately Pitch 1 cleared quickly after the morning monsoon on Saturday and allowed for a great game of footy. We arrived with a strong team and a plan for how to mitigate Latini's chances in the match. We did a great job of executing it for 35 minutes and then got "Sharpled". A soft back pass was quickly pounced on by Sharples who steadied himself and finished simply enough from 12 yards out. 1-0 to Latini and that is the way the half ended. We played really well until that goal which was encouraging to see, but were just not as decisive this week with our finishing as we were a few weeks ago against Vikings. We found some great spaces to play in, were linking play between strikers and midfielders and had 3-4 good chances to put our stamp on the match within the first 30 minutes. Defensively we felt in control outside of a few moments which required a save from Santino. Even after Latini's first goal we stuck to the plan and had the majority of the play. However, not long after the break we pushed forward for a set piece and were exposed on the break after a superb pass from Nathan that took three of our defenders out of the play and put Sharples into a dangerous area running at our lone CB. After a quick shimmy of the hips he took a touch inside and decisively tucked the ball in to the far corner for 2-0 lead. While disappointed the boys managed to lift their heads and make a quick response. Sam found Ataku-san with a first time pass between Latini's CB and LB and Ataku did the rest by casually rounding a few defenders finally passing the ball into the corner as he was being closed down. It was the bit of class that our attack lacked in the first half. With that goal and feeling like we were back in the match we started to press the game and risked a counter attack from Latini's dangerous front line. The match started to get a bit more stretched and both teams started to see more chances. A quick exchange between Latini players down there left side sprung Sharples again into space. Two of our defenders thought they had closed the angle enough but Mike managed to find a narrow window high at the front post with little angle to work with and put the match away with a third goal for Latini and a hattrick for him. The boys continued to try to break down Latini, but their defensive line and work rate of Sam and Nathan in midfield stifled our attack and made it difficult to find dangerous spaces in the last 20 minutes of the match. Credit to all of the Latini players for a fair and fiercely contested match and a deserved victory. Looking forward to the replay.
F1 weekend and Turf City’s Pitch 1 saw a Saturday showdown between 1TM and SFC; two teams vying for pole position come the end of the season. A suspected spot of F1-tactical-cloud-seeding meant the early afternoon stormy weather threatened the match going ahead. Thankfully, the weather cleared, the trusty Turf pitch drained and the game could commence. SFC settled into the game the better of the two sides and in the opening 10 minutes created a couple of very good chances which were both saved well by POB. 1TM began to get into their rhythm and began to cause SFC problems at the back. Just after the water break, Frando hit a ball over the top of the right full back and rather than give it up for a lost cause, Sharples chased it down and was on hand to latch onto a short back pass. 1TM’s Number 9, coolly rounded the keeper and finished with aplomb. 1-0. Both teams continued to battle all over the pitch with SFC always looking dangerous down both flanks and Shotts a constant handful. 1TM tried to utilise their pace up top with Salvo, Flat White and Duplo. All three giving SFC plenty to think about as the game wore on. The half ended with almost another 1TM goal as the ball was cut back to Duplo just inside the box, but his effort was well saved by the SFC goalkeeper. Birthday Boy Tally ordered more of the same effort from his troops and got it in abundance throughout the second half. After soaking up some SFC pressure, a high ball was played inside to Nate, who, on the volley, produced a sublime through ball which Sharples sprang onto and clinically finished his 1 on 1. 2-0 SFC continued to press and worked a goal back when a ball over the 1TM defence was collected by one of their forwards. He cut inside and finished well with the ball clipping off the far post and in. 2-1 It was a similar scenario to last week’s test of character and 1TM stood firm to it, responding with a goal just before the water break. Dev played the ball down the line and Sharples and Flat White combined, with the latter playing an exquisite pass through a couple of players to set Sharples on his way again. The man was in the mood again and drove into the box and produced another great finish to complete his hat trick and win the game for 1TM. 3-1 It was a match that was a great advert for the Cosmo League with both sides, full of quality, giving everything they could to win. It was also a great advert for Turf City as the pitches withheld a battering of rain and dried out in such a short time for our kickoff. Another reminder of the shame it will be when the ground goes in 2023. A big thank you to SFC for a firm and fair contest, and the officials for facilitating today’s match. Special mention to JR, JCG and Team Caramba for coming down to support. MOM SFC - Ryosuke Ataku-San MOM 1TM - Mike Sharples DOD - Taishi-San for his throw in BB - Tactical Tally