1st round of the AFA and we get an early tough test with an organised Albanians outfit. We started with a relatively unchanged side from previous weeks. Michael Mac in goal and a back four of Fevzi, Jonesy, Tom and making a welcome return Paul Moruzzi, who we surprised by making centre back. Sly and Jed patrolled midfield with help on the flanks from Ashley and Harry. Malachi sat behind Coco the clown who brought his own set of comedy shoes to play in!
From kick off Albanians exerted a little early pressure which we soaked up without to much trouble, with Mac making one or two comfortable catches from corners. Gradually though we got the passing game going with some fine interplay between Tom and Harry on the right.
Jed and Sly started dictating the game and released Ash, Kurt and Malachi on several occasions. Malachi especially was tormenting their defence with one mazy run after another, and it was he who finally broke the deadlock with a fine low drive across the keeper from 15yds. We looked even stronger now as Albanians sat deeper to protect their defence, although they still managed the odd swift counterattack.
We doubled our lead when Malachi weaved his way down the left side of the box before whipping in a low cross which Kurt diverted into the goal although there is an ongoing enquiry into the goal as we cannot be sure if his clown boot was still on his foot at time of impact.
The last five saw us drop the pace a bit and allowed Albanians to push on and force Mac into a wonderful full length save. The sprightly Morruzi then cleared the loose ball. 2-0 at the half and all seemed well.
2nd half we were very slow out the blocks and Albanians took advantage by pushing further up the park and biting into every challenge. Their urgency made us a little sloppy and our passing seemed to vanish with our composure. Too many times our decision making was wrong and communication became lost.
They created some good chances in this period and Mac made some excellent saves, catches and clearances to keep them at bay. Fevzi generally remained a calm head in this period and others should watch and learn. Jonesy gradually got his bite back and began snapping in some strong tackles which seemed to inspire others with Jed and Sly following suit. Sly had been fooling their midfield for most of the 2nd half by feigning injury and then tearing off on a run.
Ash and Kurt swapped places and it was during this period that Coco’s boots came off more regularly that a prostitutes knickers (Will you learn to do your laces up properly for next week, or get an adult to do them for you, that does not mean you Jed. Alternately I will bring the nail gun!). Coco left the field in disgust to be replaced by yours truly.
Suddenly we seemed revitalised with Harry, Malachi and Ash finding a new energy. With me as front man we seemed to push them back and forced errors into their defence. We soon capitalised with Ash forcing his way into the box to slot past their keeper. Albanians were rattled now and another almost followed but for a very suspect offside call. Nevertheless we ploughed on with even Jonesy charging up field on one occasion.
The 4th came after Harry and Malachi interpassed before Mal slipped it to me who slid it into Ashs path for a clinical finish. This was rapidly follwed by Mac’s monstrous goal kick which took one bounce before Ash hit a sublime side foot volley over the keeper. Exquisite. We should also have had a penalty, but as Kurt so rightly pointed out the same Ref let me off one last year.
All in all a good display against a tough and well organised team. Some of the football was superb at times with everyone contributing at some point. Discipline was excellent with no one rising to some nasty calf kicking that was dished out. We just need to maintain focus and improve on the communication, and we will be a match for anyone. Mac in goal, Malachi and Ash’s hatrick performance were the pick of the team……….although Paul was faultless at centre half. A word of caution Paul, I too started as a right winger then moved to right back, then to centre half, then you will find more games as sub and finally you end up as manager! You have been warned.
Also we wait with baited to see which part of the Ronald Mcdonald outfit our skipper will be wearing next week. God I hope it’s the wig. I would pay good money to see that!