The only good thing about the expected conditions were that the storm was coming south to north, so the temperature was relatively warm even though the rain was relentless. With some late roster managing the Legends had a solid roster and enough transit for all, but on arriving the debate was to stay in the cars or not. Finally reason prevailed as the extra few minutes in the car weren’t going to be a match for 90 minutes on the field, with the tiny tent set up by the opposition at least allowing the roster to be signed. Anticipating the referee to not spend any more time than necessary the Legends started strongly and had some good high possession without being able to convert anything. Soon however it was clear that the opposition’s low league position belied the talent they had available. The conditions appeared to have no effect as they were able to immediately control balls sent to them long or short, and were able to set up triangular passing pleasing on the eye all over the field. Meanwhile the Legends were as sloppy as the conditions with sliced touches and balls continually slid too far away from teammates. Despite this, CPR’s stayed in the game until the referee intervened. Already under fire for letting too much physical contact go, the referee missed a blatantly obvious handball which had a material effect in allowing Doxa to take the lead, albeit with a well taken shot. The Legends continued to press and had a glorious opportunity at the end of the first half when having done all the hard work Venkataraman committed the cardinal sin of taking his eye off the ball in sloppy conditions and looping a ball over the bar when well placed to tie the game.
The Legends knew they were going to have to tighten up on the mistakes and compete better since Doxa clearly had the individual skill and team game to win. Unfortunately near the beginning of the second half a long run and cross resulted in a hard header for a two nil lead. Interestingly this had the effect of stretching the field and opening up play as Doxa appeared to go for more goals rather than protect the lead they had. One goalmouth scramble had CPR agonizingly close to getting the ball in, and as the wings opened up the fullbacks started moving up further and further. About halfway through the game the Legends made the tactical change they discussed and moved to 3 at the back, with Teesdale moving into the midfield. The increased pressure saw the Legends take the lead in unorthodox circumstances. The Doxa goalie appeared to win a race with Frazier for the ball but after strong arguments from Frazier the referee decided to award a free kick to CPR for handling outside of the area. Naturally there were some handbags regarding the decision, but CPR took full advantage. Having two skilled free kick takers from close range is a boon for the Legends, and this time it was Mckeown who scored over a several person wall to put the Legends back in the game. As the pressure from CPR matched the relentless rate of the rain, the Doxa backline broke off another free kick. This time the scramble resulted in Rosenbloom hipping the ball into D’Andrea’s pass who made no mistake with an exquisite finish.
Having come back to tie the Legends were in no mood to give back a share of the spoils, moving back to 4 at the back. Despite that Doxa had the lion’s share of the possession at the end and it took a couple of spectacular saves from Miller to deny them at the death and ensure a point each. At the end Doxa were probably the most disappointed, not just for giving up a two goal lead but for having played better overall. This was a good scrappy point for the Legends, matching the performance they had against Shamrock earlier in the season. It also displayed the increasing strength of the league as even the teams near the bottom are no cakewalk. The ultimate test should be against Banatul next weekend to see if the league really has improved top to bottom.
Competition: Doxa Legends, League Opposition
Location: Herbert Lehman HS, Bronx
Conditions: Rain sheeting down in a rare southern storm
Result: 2:2 HT: 0-1
Goals: 1-2: Mckeown Assist Frazier
2-2: D’Andrea Assist Rosenbloom
Yellow Cards: This is now a streak of Cal Ripken proportions, something that will never be broken. Frazier has started his career with 6 bookings in his first 6 games. The question is more what will break that streak, not getting booked or getting sent off when he finally meets a referee who won’t put up with the dissent. Ironically for the first time in recorded history his dissent actually appeared to change the referee’s decision and winning a critical goal for the Legends.
|In a streak that will surely never be beat, Frazier has started his CPR career with 6 bookings in his first 6 games
Red Cards: Fortunately Frazier’s booking came too late in the game for the referee to snap.
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Santiago Morales added to a previous Mike D with a quiet change to No on the evite only a few hours before game time. That’s not how this works.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: Fortunately El Presidente Faherty stepped up when Morales snuck out and although he didn’t play, was available if needed.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: Conboy was on the shelf with last week’s hamstring injury.
Old Man of the Match: Lots of good performances and enough people at the bar to actually have a debate. Miller’s stunning game ending saves warranted him strong consideration as did Pattinson’s steady role in the middle. Belizan’s consistent excellence (all-time leader in OMoM) hurts when the performances are close, and in this case his center-back partner Ollie Roberts took the nod for an equally assured performance.
Old Man of the Bar: Teesdale stuck it out to the bitter end of the astonishing Game 5 World Series game even though he had to drive back home at 1am in the sheeting rain to the far reaches of Weehawken.
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None
Statistic of the week: Mckeown and D’Andrea push their all-time goals further up to 23 and 22 and have a good race for Golden Boot with Mckeown leading 5-4 (winning it last year 6-5). Frazier now ties the all-time bookings at 6 in 6 games (!!!).
Team Bar Showing: 6 out of 15 (40%)
Team Bar Night: 4 out of 5. 6 fit perfectly in a Dive 96 booth, and the initial dual games of Sunday Night Football and World Series ended up with one of the all time great World Series games. You know its good when you end up with 2 tabs and a free pitcher!
Team (No new profiles this week): Mitch Miller (GK), Mark Resnik (DF), Drew Faherty (DF), Luciano Belizan (DF), Manohar Venkataraman, Simon Mckeown, Tim Frazier, Willian D’Andrea, Steven Teesdale (DF), Ollie Roberts (DF), Steve Roberts (DF), Tom Pattinson, John Hodges, Bevan Rosenbloom, Steve Teesdale (DF)