The typical early season phenomenon of high attendance continued into the second game, with a late scratch of Phillips still resulting in a full 17 available for the game. This brought about some positional juggling that resulted in some Monday morning quarterbacking late in the game as dissension over who should start and who should substitute in rumbled on. Barnstonworth had many of the same familiar faces but new season syndrome had benefited them as well as they had a full squad available, critical in the sweltering heat of the afternoon.
Initially the Legends didn’t look anywhere near as free flowing and dangerous as they did the previous week. There were a couple of hopeful jaunts up front but the fullbacks had nowhere near the space they had the previous week to attack. Meanwhile Barnstonworth were making hay in the midfield as their fullbacks drew CPR in merely to bypass them to their central midfielders in the vast spaces open in the big field. The Legends were caught in fragmented defending from the front which allowed the Rovers to advance the ball easily to the final third. With the heat resulting in a drinks break midway through the half, the Legends tried to reorganize. In particular, the need for better (any) communication and tightening up the defensive coordination were made paramount. To their credit, the communication was indeed improved although there was still far more negative shouting than productive instructions. Unfortunately, the opposition were able to take the lead with a winger’s shot parried back by goalkeeper Faherty, resulting in a cross and tap in at the near post.
CPR attempted to regroup at the half, but with the number of players, the size of the pitch and the distribution of players to positions this was a tricky effort. The lack of menace from the attack was palpable as Sawyer plowed a lonely furrow up top with the second striker all too often dragged into the midfield to help. The Rovers started putting more pressure in the final third and were able to turn that pressure into a couple of goals. The Legends started pressing up which in turn opened more gaps at the back. With the frequent substitutions and players unfamiliar with each other, the Rovers were able to take advantage on counterattacks with brutal efficiency. The opposing forwards speed and ruthlessness had the goal count inexorably increasing. Finally, the Legends were able to salvage some pride as they were able to eventually win a corner from which Oli Roberts header was clinically dispatched left footed by Venkataraman. Soon after a beautifully flighted ball left the keeper in no man’s land with Venkataraman turning provider to gift D’Andrea with an open net.
Too little too late as the Legends suffered from an unexpected thrashing. The good news is that with all the quality players added, the issues are more of organization and familiarity which they should be able to figure out. As attendance flattens to a normal 14 or 15 this will make it much easier for the players to adjust to well defined roles. Just as last week’s exceptional result didn’t make them title contenders, this unexpected setback didn’t make them bottom feeders either. CPR will be hoping to get back to winning ways against Banatul next week.
Competition: Barnstonworth Rovers Old Boys, League Opposition
Location: Bush Terminal Piers Park, Brooklyn
Conditions: Extremely warm autumn afternoon
Fans: 5 (Mrs. Stower/Azzo with 1/2 kids)
Result: 2:7 HT: 0-1
Goals: 1-6: Venkataraman Assist O. Roberts
2-7: D’Andrea Assist Venkataraman
Yellow Cards: Hahn received a booking for a robust tackle, perhaps a bit harshly.
Red Cards: None.
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Phillips was a late scratch, but would have made a full 18 so not needed.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: A lingering injury for Oli Roberts wasn’t particularly damaging given the numbers, but the heat definitely took a toll on a number of players.
Old Man of the Match: The general malaise hit everyone in the second half, where even the quality players were struggling to make basic passes. After a 7-2 loss, there weren’t enough positives to give anyone a vote for the scant 4 who made it to the bar.
Old Man of the Bar: None, not surprising given the high bar for this award. It will probably only be awarded a couple of times a season, if that.
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): Shafranek is an honorary mention as he made it to Blooms for a couple.
Statistic of the week: After a barren season Venkataraman made it onto the score sheet to start creeping up on the now dormant Mckeown for 3rd all time goal scorer. D’Andrea continues to stretch the all time scoring record to 29.
Team Bar Showing: 4 out of 17 (24%)
Team Bar Night: 2 out of 5. 4 present at shady Irish Haven in Brooklyn, Tier 1 made it back to Blooms.
Team (No new profiles this week): Andrew Faherty (GK), Manohar Venkataraman, Tom Pattinson, Pete Hahn (DF), Luciano Belizan (DF), Mike Conboy, Danny Azzo (DF), Neil Stower (DF), Gavin Moore (DF), Franco Denari, David Sawyer, Mark Resnik (DF), Willian D’Andrea, Andrew Jones, Oli Roberts (DF), Mark Edmunds (DF), Steve Teesdale