CPR Reds came out Sunday against Doxa FC who came into the game without a loss….of course also without having faced the CPR Reds. The refs showed up late and only with 2 referees, an interesting play on their part with one AR watching the line on one side and the other as the field referee. The Reds came out shorthanded with several players away for the weekend forcing them to play undermanned with several players from the reserves who had already put in 90 min earlier that day. To make things worse, rookie speed demon Andrew Fisher went down in the first 2 minutes with a pulled groin. Neither team really controlled possession in the first half as Doxa’s strategy was the direct long ball over their CMs and into their strikers and the Reds ended up on the defense most of the first half holding strong winning just about every ball in the back. When the Reds did have possession, they struggled to work in several consecutive passes until they drew Mark Haroussea into the central midfield. Strong initial play from Lance Brune once again helped the Reds as well in the middle of the park as Brune made his triumphant return to wearing #6. The Reds were able to break through for a lead on a counter attack nicely slotted ball to Quentin Albrecht who did what he does best and finished to put the Reds up 1-0. It would stay that way until the end of the half. The first half was full of dangerous tackles and smack talking from the Doxa players and coaching staff which set up for quite the intense 2nd half.
The 2nd half started with Doxa putting 3-4 men forward and playing even more direct looking to beat the Reds over the top, forcing the back line to play an ultra conservative deep line to prevent a big gap from forming between their own goal and the defensive backs. The Reds controlled well for the first 15-20 min and #6 Brune stepped up on a wonderstrike free kick to put the team up 2-0. The Reds sat back a little more, as Chris Valentine was the next to go down with an injury to the already depleted Reds roster. This perhaps was the demise of what seemed to be a sure win. With players on the Reds starting to lose energy and the game turning even more aggressive with the referee handing out yellow cards like Pablo Escobar handing out money to the poor in Narcos, the momentum started to shift to a Doxa side who deserved nothing in the game. Doxa was able to catch the Reds defense off guard on a quick restart from a throw in and had a man up opportunity in the box and were able to slot home a goal to make it 2-1 with 20 min remaining. Doxa continued to play long but the Reds defense held off everything dropping into more of a 4-5-1 to help win second balls in the midfield. However, Doxa once again capitalized off a restart and after a failed clearance on a corner kick, received a fortunate bounce right to into the hands of Doxa player on the 6 yard box who calmly dropped the ball to his right foot and kicked it home for the equalizer. Perhaps an obvious handball call, but perhaps the hands were a part of the body in that situation with his hands hanging down naturally. In any case, the Reds ended the game in a 2-2 tie which surely felt to be a loss. One that seems obviously preventable had they had a full roster that day.
But that’s the way the cookie crumbled. The quote of the day comes from the Doxa coach who calmly approached Lance Brune after the game calling him the only good player on the Reds squad insisting that he is playing alongside a bunch of “pork chops”.
Expect if there should be a rematch later in the season that the Reds will come out firing on all cylinders.