The last few weeks have put a huge strain on the Legends resources, the small game day squads compounding into injuries. Upto the Friday before the game there was a real danger that the Legends were going to have to forfeit, but they decided based on pride and keeping their good name in the league to soldier on with single digits. After begging, borrowing and stealing they looked like they might be close to a starting 11, and with two late additions in Steve Roberts and Steve Morse they were able to get to a relatively expansive 12.
Given the knowledge that most players would have to play the full game or close to it, the Legends started quite well and with perhaps a little too much energy. Although they were against the strong wind, they held up the ball well and managed to get into the box, without the requisite luck needed. Doxa meanwhile tried to use the wind a little too much, with the long balls consequently ending up safely shepherded away by sweeper keeper Carducci. The Legends did a commendable job keeping the game tight, with the teams separated by a solitary goal that was well struck through a number of bodies from Doxa.
The second half was always going to be a slog despite having the wind at their backs. After knocking the Legends around with a few of their backups, Doxa launched a full assault with their younger, quicker players. The Legends were a canny team though, playing a high line and allowing the Doxa youngsters to continually run themselves offside. This was an expert strategy with one flaw. The second goal, the one that broke the Legends spirit was so egregiously offside the Legends just stood around staring at the player run the field waiting for a whistle that never came. Everyone stipulates that calling offside by a referee with no linesmen is tough, but this was such a breathtakingly bad call it defied belief. Now, there are ways that the referee could have handled it, but smugly talking back to a team struggling with numbers and blatantly lying about a player playing the opponent offside while getting his number wrong was not the way to go about it. Almost to make a point the referee now arbitrarily decided when he should blow his whistle, claiming that everyone knows the ball was out, it was an obvious foul etc. as half the team played on waiting for the whistle and the other half waited in helpless limbo. There were a couple more offside goals before the referee belatedly decided to start blowing his whistle, but by then it was too late. The one ray of sunshine was Carlsen’s goal from the kickoff. After a couple of wind aided shots from the kickoff, this one was perfectly executed into the top corner, the first such goal scored by this core team since Fink scored off the opening kickoff for the Old Boys several years ago. Quite what the goalie was doing after being warned several times of this exact technique was another matter, especially given that he had acquitted himself well from a variety of shots in the second half.
Nobody pretends the Legends would have won this game with a league average referee as opposed to a smugly inept argumentative lout. However when running yourself into exhaustion it is truly debilitating to watch blatant mistakes be rewarded. This is probably the first truly lousy refereeing display of the season, so thank heavens for small favours. The small tragedy is that the game was played in a good spirit with very little of the excessive physical play that can cause annoying old man arguments. The Legends have a welcome week off and will now prepare to play the bottom half of the table in a round robin to see if they can win the Everton cup.
Competition: Doxa SC Legends, League Opposition
Location: Herbert Lehman High School, Bronx
Conditions: Chilly spring evening
Result: 1:7 HT: 0-1
Goals: 1-5: Carlsen
Yellow Cards: No Tim Frazier so no bookings
Red Cards: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Edmunds was a late scratch given his “sickness” (nobody suggested he was hungover at the game).
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: Steve Roberts risked divorce on his wife’s birthday to make it out, and was sorely needed. Also Steve Morse trekked all the way out after his Old Boys game, so kudos to him as well.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: Surprisingly there were no significant injuries given the number of players who had to play 90 minutes. Resnik’s knees already precluded a long stint (although the knee complaining before and after the game bears no resemblance to him on the field where you need a crowbar to pry him out). Falling heaving after being undercut in the penalty box probably had a larger influence on his being sidelined than anything else.
Old Man of the Match: Really a tough, hard fought performance all around, despite the discouragement of a supercilious incompetent referee and facing wave after wave of relatively young fresh opponents. No particular player stood out from the rest.
Old Man of the Bar: None.
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None
Statistic of the week: Resnik achieved his 100th cap, although given the circumstances the celebrations weren’t what they could and should have been. Doxa had enough players to mount a guard of honour by themselves
Team Bar Showing: 6 out of 12 (50%)
Team Bar Night: 3 out of 5. Not bad considering it was a 6pm kickoff in the Bronx. Finding a place to drink near the field was tricky, but Havana café did the trick, with surprisingly good food.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mike Carducci (GK), Steve Roberts (DF), Manohar Venkataraman, Mark Resnik (DF), Neil Stower (DF), Andy Jones (DF), Gavin Moore (DF), Steve Morse, Scott Brindley, Jan Carlsen, Hakan Nizam, John Hodges