Proud of their antiquated methods of team organization, it wasn’t until the night before the game that it was clear the Oranges would have a few substitutes available on what looked to be a very warm fall day. The Oranges had a core supplemented by internal and external CPR recruits as they looked to make the “jump” to the Over 40’s. As such, there were quite a few (re)introductions being made before the game as the team got ready to face an experienced Doxa team. The beginning certainly didn’t auger well as Doxa took the lead in the 3rd minute, a scramble in the box finished with authority. However the Oranges shook off the early setback to start taking more control of the game, and it was a splendid run down the right and pass to Cyrus who shook off the attentions of his defender to make a superb lob over the keeper to tie the game in the 14th minute.
A young referee usually augurs well in this league, but that was certainly not the case in this game. He certainly hadn’t received the age old memo that if the decision was tight to allow the benefit of the doubt to go to the attacker, much to the detriment of the Oranges. Initially the Oranges weren’t happy but understood the difficulty of adjudicating offside with no linesman. However, as the decisions became increasingly egregious it was hard to face them calmly, especially when they seemed completely one sided. One especially infuriating decision was called on a free kick and a lovely back headed goal by Yu, with the referee having no excuse to get this decision wrong and benefitting the slow footed Doxa defence.
The game was fairly even but Doxa was able to take advantage of the Orange’s unfamiliarity with each other to find a man open in the box. Although the defence recovered well, the striker took the ball down really well and was able to evade the attentions of multiple players to finish with aplomb. The Oranges still felt positive at the half and there were a few more discussions on the sideline regarding how the 4-2-3-1 was actually playing (more like a 4-4-2).
The Oranges play significantly improved in the second half as they acclimatized to each other, but they could never quite get the bounce of the ball. The outside midfielders on both sides consistently had the beating of their opponents but either the crosses were mislaid or the ball just evaded the one or two players in the box. One particularly unfortunate scramble saw Venkataraman flailing in despair as the connection just couldn’t be made in the box, with the final Watanabe shot nestling in the goalie’s midriff.
At this point the heat was taking its toll on both sides, with the Oranges also unfortunate in unfamiliarity in being unable to toss on latecomer Dazil George with roster unfamiliarity playing a part. The Oranges were successful at baiting Doxa into continually hitting deep balls from the defence, and although they were quite good at those they were far more dangerous when they were playing short balls to each other attacking through the midfield. In the end, the Oranges couldn’t quite get the equalizer their play deserved, but considering most of them were still trying to learn each other’s names afterwards it was a promising Over 40’s debut for the team.
Competition: Doxa FC Legends, League opposition
Location: Randalls Island #51, Randalls Island
Conditions: Very warm day and expected unpredictable grass pitch
Fans: 2 (The unfortunate George arriving in the second half and his daughter)
Result: 1-2 (1-2 at H/T)
Goals: 1:1 Cyrus assist ?
Yellow Cards: None
Red Card: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: None
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: Yu, who managed to get babysitting
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: Roddy Valle, one of the youngest members of the squad, went down near the end with an ankle injury that may keep him out for a few weeks
Old Man of the Match: Yu wanted to award it to everyone, but there was no particular standout despite most players playing well (author will take a raincheck after a particularly poor performance
Old Man of the Bar: Sadly we may have to retire this section since teams don’t go to the bar any more.
El Presidente (new award for Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): N/A
Team Bar Showing: 1 out of 14 (AB%), Venkataraman made it to Dive 96 but other teammates are unknown
Team Bar Night: N/A
Team: Grant Koerner (GK), Manohar Venkataraman (F), Jason Cyrus (F), Kelvin Yu (DF), JP Asbun, Gabriel Cowles (DF), Ted Elkington (DF), Najib Majaj (MF), Claudio Schneider (MF), Steve Tobar-Icaza, Rodrigo Valle (MF), Takuna Watanabe (DF), Joji Tokida, Pablo Lojo