“Oh crap, what time is the match!” The sick familiar feeling raced through Manny’s frontal lobe, which felt as if it had swelled to the size of a basketball, as it tended to on Sunday mornings. But this time it was different. Very different. Next to him the covers swelled with the exhalations of a body, its arm draped heavily across Manny’s chest…
(Sorry all, somehow the first paragraph of my CPR-based murder mystery, “Central Park Danger,” and the match report got mixed up.)
CPR Old Boys entered Sunday’s match with realistic expectations.
Facing division leader BWG Cosmos for their second league match in a row, the Old Boys knew they were in for a challenge. With Cosmos-killer Heitkamp and Bustamante down with injuries up top and a sparse midfield selection available, there was little margin for error, injury or mishap. Adding to the team’s challenge was the late scratch of Kass due to family health issues, leaving the team with only two subs in the first half (and one in the second following D’Andrea’s planned departure). A last-minute call to Shafranek proved too late — dealing a critical blow to his Mr. Glass campaign and ensuring not-necessarily-welcome extra minutes for the rest of the side.
Lining up against a younger, fitter team (is there any other kind?) and lacking firepower up top, the Old Boys were going to have to muster all their character and guile to get a result.
As is customary, the CPR started off strong, knocking the ball about with precision and composure for most of the first 20 Minutes. Cosmos were forced to chase, with Stower and D’Andrea penetrating on the left side, Hollins owning headers at midfield, and the back line linking effectively with the midfield through Jesse. So it was emphatically against the run of play when Cosmos struck first.
A rather unemphatic corner turned quickly into a counter, with a NY Met-worthy whiff at the back allowing Cosmos through for an easy finish. After a short spell of confusion, though, CPR was back in business when Gleason supplied a perfect cross to the recently-entered Hodges, who in a miracle of geometry roofed it from about half a yard.
Cosmos went up again when their “Maradona 2011″ doppelganger teased and juked his way across the byline from the left, leaving a trail of flailing Reds before crossing to his strike partner, who tapped home from pointblank range.
Going into the half, CPR was still feeling the stronger side, but pressure on the CPR backline built as the possession started to lean toward Cosmos. This time it was time to CPR to score against the run, with Stower putting Jesse through for a breakaway, which he finished with composure.
At this point, CPR was beginning to feel a “rhythmic slapping” from Cosmos, with two repeats of the first goal dance thwarted narrowly. The crossbar also saved one and a harrowing ball skittered across the goal one yard out with no Cosmos player to meet it. At this point a draw looked like a respectable result and the question was how long CPR could hold off the rampaging opposition. Tough man-marking and strong challenges to Cosmos first touches were just enough to prevent disaster, and enough to elicit repeated protests from a Cosmos target man whose-size-to-whining ratio leads the league. But things were starting to look dicey when CPR regained some measure of possession. Jesse sent another perfect ball across from the right, which Stower’s forehead met with authority at the far post, leaving a helpless Cosmos keeper only to stare.
Blood in the water, an energized CPR was now able to close out the match frustrating the Cosmos number 9 and 10 with hard tackling, leaving the Old Boys now alone at the top of the division.
Man Of the Match: Stower
Stats to follow.