Despite a tough game against a strong Hibs, the boys in blue walked away with the 3 points after a defiant performance. A fast and furious first 25 minutes left many players breathless coming into the water break. The best chance of the quarter falling to Hibs, who thought they had slotted the ball into the corner of the net, but not for a worldclass finger tip save from new goalkeeper signing Mike Rhodes. Moments after the restart, Hotspurs were awarded a penalty after a handball by a Hibs defender. Having not had much luck from the spot of late, it was questionable who was going to be on pens. Captain Skinner confidently stepped up, and powered the ball into the back of the net. This gave Hotspurs a boost, and it wasn’t too long before Skinner got his second. A long throw in from Kong left the defenders and stand-in goalie scrambling. They failed to clear, and skinner tapped in from 2 yards to make it 2-0 heading into half time. Fresh legs were brought on at the break, with Godfrey-Plews coming on for his first game of the season at right wing back, and Nick K joining the attack. And it wasn’t long into the second half before Kouvaratikis impact was known. A well worked team move and through ball sent Nick in behind the defenders to leave him one on one with the goalkeeper, slotting the ball home with his trademark sliding shot. 3-0. But Hotspurs didn’t make it easy for themselves, defending for much of the second half. Hibs were relentless, creating plenty of chances. They eventually pulled one back from a corner, Hotspurs failing to pick up the runners, as their winger headed home. Hotspurs didn’t help themselves, giving away several silly free kicks on the edge of the area. Rhodes called into action again, making another fantastic stop from one free kick as it deflected off the wall. The pressure kept coming, with more saves from Rhodes, and Hearn clearing one off the line. In the dying minutes, Hibs eventually scored a free kick - an unstoppable rocket into the roof of the net. With just 1 minute to play, and the score at 3-2, Hotspurs were planning to send the ball deep into the oppositions half at the restart. But Kong saw an opportunity. With the goal keeper stood on the edge of the area, Kong launched the ball from the centre circle over his head, hitting the inside of the post, clipped in to the back of the net. Cue scenes of elation, as Hotspurs secured victory, and the first 3 points of the season. Some excellent performances across the park, with notable mentions to Kong and Skinner, both on the scoresheet. A first 90 minutes in a long time for club legend Ali Roseburgh who was a leader at the centre of defence. But MOM was dually awarded to goalkeeper Rhodes, who was kept busy all afternoon, making multiple outstanding saves, and commanding his area throughout. This is the kick start Hotspurs needed, as they look ahead to Nippon next weekend.
Lionel pinging one into the top corner straight from kick off with one minute left, when we'd just pulled ourselves back to 3-2, was probably the perfect way for this game to end. It really wasn't our day. We started the game with the same intensity that got us ahead early in recent games, only this time we couldn't find the final passes and finishes. Julio thought he'd scored with a curler from the edge of the box, only for the keeper to pull off a ridiculous finger-tip save onto the post. From the rebound scramble we ended up hitting the cross bar. Dan blasted a decent chance over. It just didn't happen. We went into the water break still all square and conceded immediately after. It looked like a really tough one. A ball into the box had Jack competing with a Hotspurs player for the ball. It bobbled off thighs and up onto his hand. Penalty given and they made no mistake. Then Joe did his knee (all the best with it mate). Joey put the gloves on and immediately had to deal with a long-throw, a scramble, and a second Hotspurs goal. The second half was played mainly in Hotspurs half, but they got us on the counter, Nick slotting a one-on-one past Joey. We kept going and eventually managed to get some reward - Boycey boshing in a header from a corner. Julian thought he'd got us another from a deflected free-kick that sent the keeper the wrong way, but still wasn't enough to stop him parrying it away. It might have been as good as the save in the first half. Julian had another chance shortly after, driving through the Hotspurs defence, then dabbing just wide when he felt he really should've "just dunked that one man". He finally got the goal he deserved from another free kick, this one slammed just under the cross bar with Jamie throwing an (illegal?) pick move on the edge on the wall. A lifeline, a last chance to have a go... then Lionel did that. A tough one to take but all credit to Hotspurs, who were solid throughout and made their big moments count. MoM for Hibs was Julian, and for Hotspurs it was that (expletive) keeper. Always fun to play you guys, and look forward to the next time.