On a glorious Sunday morning, 11 fine souls made their way to Glen Cove in Long Island to take up the CPR Red’s coat of arms against a slightly crazy opposition. 11 fine souls would return victorious, but it wasn’t the same 11?! Curious, I hear you say. The stuff of legends, say I!
The day got off to a mixed start. The bus organized by Berto was a touch of genius. Great fun heading off to the game together, as a team, with new faces integrating into the club. Sadly, however, the 8.15 meet (we didn’t actually leave until about 8.45!) was too early for some and we headed to Long Island terrified that we were going to have 9 people and no keeper! The lack of a ball to warm up with also worried the squad, but this was sorted with some quick thinking from BCC and some even quicker driving from Berto. Upon returning to the ground, low and behold two stragglers in the shape of Ahmed and Brian had turned up – we bloody had 11 and had a warm-up! We were ready for this now.
The solid back four made the necessity of a goal-keeper superfluous, with the stand-in skipper taking the first stint in goal and barely having a touch to make, save for almost punching Frank in the face as he flapped at a high ball.
But the Reds had started really well. Moving the ball around the back, Colin providing a very loud and commanding presence at right back, dictating the game with Emilio in the middle with almost a like Alves-Iniesta type relationship. This duo’s flirting bore fruit after 10 mins, with Colin slipping the marauding Emilio through and the young lad lobbing the keeper to give the Reds a well deserved lead.
This lead was doubled 15 minutes later. The whole team were working to hard for each other, talking and giving support both in attack and defense. Gordo on the right, Ahmed on the left were terrorizing the full-backs. Brian was bringing the midfield into play beautifully and after a couple of disappointing weeks previously, we finally seemed to be playing this game called football.
All of this hard work and slick passing led to Colin picking out debutant Tom, hailing from Amsterdam. He picked the ball up, almost let his touch get away from him, and then let fly an unstoppable effort that screamed past the oppo keeper. Two nil – thanks very much.
It could have been three if the aforementioned Dutch striker hadn’t blamed a bobble that let an open goal go begging. No-one knows how he missed it, all we know is that he was lucky to get away with not having a dirty pint at SideBar after.
Brian was recovering from a groin injury (not to be blamed on a successful Saturday night) and so took over in goal, with BCC stepping alongside the martial J-Barbour in midfield. He had been controlling the game with the calmness that one expects of such a statesman of the club, and the team were benefiting from it. The first half ended with it 2-0 to the Reds, with not much more to note except a yellow card for Emilio and the customary outstanding tackling and ball retention from Robin at left back.
Second half was a slightly different story. We were tired and we knew that they were going to come back into the game. We sat deeper and deeper and had less and less of the ball. However, we restricted their strikers to mainly long shots to start with – Brian tipping the ball over expertly on both occasions, but then they started getting in behind us and we had a couple of touch spots. Even with the introduction of Jordan, who managed to make his own way to the game after missing the bus, did little to sway the flow of football. Indeed, the Reds were left to counter-attacking, which we did well and could have had another coupe of goals themselves, but alas the ball kept sliding wide, agonizingly so from a Jordan chip.
So it was the opposition that scored next. After Berto managed the highlight of what was an excellent game by taking the ball off the toes of the striker when he was on the line with the goal at his mercy, a corner soon followed. Frank and the defence had handled these so well to date that they went short. We thought we had dealt with it but then a ambitious ball came in and through pure luck nestled in the far corner, escaping everyone. 2-1 and a big effort required in the last 20 to seal the win.
Sadly, the Reds then lost a bastion of the team to a nasty injury. Their right wing had the ball on the edge of the box and looked like he was going to shoot when in stepped Ahmed and took the ball away. The strikers follow through onto the shin of Ahmed should surely have been a foul, but instead what resulted was a 10 minute interlude where a suspected broken leg caused agony for our fallen solider and frustration for the opposition. This frustration bubbled over and after Frank was pushed onto the aforementioned Ahmed on the ground, a minor scuffle broke out that had handbags written all over it.
The ambulance was called when we moved the lad off the pitch and the game continued, with a breather looking like it was helping the Reds. Nothing quite helped the Reds as much as the ref though, who changed 18 mins to go to 13 and then blew-up, leaving the opposition livid! We weren’t fussed through – it was a deserved win for the travelling pack and SideBar was going to taste juicy! Well done lads on a hard fought victory – let’s get a beaut cup-run going. Would also like to report that Ahmed is OK – partial tear in the shin muscle will keep him out for a couple of weeks though.