The Legends approached their first Cup game of the year with trepidation, not least because the game was in deepest Staten Island (is there any other kind of Staten Island?). Although they had been notified that this was a kinder, gentler Partizani there were too many bad memories of Neanderthal behavior to feel fully comfortable. Despite the misgivings the mid October day dawned with the glorious warmth we’ve now come to expect thanks to the wonders of fossil fuels. The curiosity of those who had never been to Staten Island was quickly sated at the first long traffic jam, but the Legends still managed to have a full 11 to play with while Partizani were still scrambling for numbers.
The young referee brought that most unusual of Over 30’s referee traits to the game, that of competence. He came over, discussed his expectations of the game and starting on time in a very non confrontational way and had both teams ready to play with only a few minutes delay. The field appeared of a similar length to the favoured Randall’s Island #74 but slightly wider, so the Legends were hoping to take advantage. However this appeared to be a solid (and thankfully sporting) Partizani team. Although they left the wings free for the Legends to advance, they congested the middle and all too often herded CPR into a cul-de-sac. Neat dribblers and one touch artists though they may be, Jee & D’Andrea still had trouble penetrating the mass of bodies. At the other end the #22 striker was living up to every inch of his billing as a thoroughly dangerous player. The hope for the Legends was that he would keep trying to dribble around every single player in front of him and continue to enrage his teammates by screaming incessantly at them (better them than us). A fairly even first half was edged by the opposition when they took advantage of some substitution confusion to cut in from deep on the right hand side and score via a well hit ball into the roof of the net.
A Cup game meant the usual league strategy didn’t apply, since there was no difference between losing 1-0 or 3-0. Unfortunately the Legends took this to heart, as a high bounce from the crossbar was bullied in and then an inability to clear the ball despite several chances allowed a third and seemingly final nail in the coffin. Despite 3-0 down, the Legends continued to toil and start taking advantage of the increasing space, although clearcut chances were still hard to come by. The first ray of sunshine was caused by the continuing pressure, a poorly sliced defensive clearance bouncing off the post to allow D’Andrea the simplest of tap ins. The pressure was ratcheted up, and soon after a hard shot from Street glanced off a defender’s hand for a penalty. A superbly taken penalty, 3-2. CPR had their tails up and Partizani could feel the heat both literally and figuratively. The congestion was suffocating, but a tiny space allowed Street through one on one with the goalkeeper who charged out and made a tremendous save. With only moments left another high cross was met moments before the keeper by Hodges, but although directed towards the empty net the ball took an eternity to get there, long enough for a desperately lunging defender to clear it off the line. Soon after, the whistle blew and that was all she wrote.
One is tempted to mention the old adage about Mrs. Lincoln & the Play, since apart from the loss it was an enjoyable game. Having an assured referee who can control the ebb and flow of a physical game was an unusual joy, and Partizani acquitted themselves well and fairly, with even the usual Over 30’s moaning for calls done with a wink and a smile. The Legends would be more than happy to play them again, and hopefully this time gain some revenge.
Competition: FC Partizani, Over 30’s Division A
Location: Greenbelt Recreational Field, Staten Island
Conditions: Very warm Fall afternoon
Result: 3-2 (0-1 at H/T)
Goals: 1:3 D’Andrea
2:3 D’Andrea (pen)
Yellow Cards: Resnik & Stephan. Although both cards in themselves were borderline, they were given to keep the overall game in line and so made sense.
Red Card: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Poor Milan Gupta might still be waiting at the subway for Tony, who unilaterally decided to change the pickup point without actually notifying all the people he was supposed to pick up. This might be one of the only times in recorded history that a Vamvouris hasn’t communicated enough.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: Vamvouris added injury to the pickup fiasco by pulling his calf muscle.
Old Man of the Match: D’Andrea added two more goals in what is looking like a stellar season and was voted OMoM. Stephan finished runner up in order to drink out of the chalice at the pub.
Old Man of the Bar: Nobody this week, unless there was late breaking news that I’m unaware of.
El Presidente (new award for Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None.
Team Bar Showing: 8 out of 13 (62%)
Team Bar Night: 2 out of 5: The hot sun and a lot of running took a lot out of people.
Team (No new profiles this week): Drew Faherty (DF), Paul Stephan (DF), Randall Klitz (DF), Mark Resnik (DF), Steve Teesdale (DF), Sean Street, Tony Vamvouris (DF), Chris Jee, Manohar Venkataraman, Willan D’Andrea, Dylan Fitzgerald, John Hodges