Alexandra Park 6s 2 – Broomfield 5s 4

SAL Minor Division 3 | September 13, 2014

With the captain away for the week I’ll guide you through our first game – a disappointing performance but for a sensational wonder goal (described in all its glory below).

So, the first game of the season. Having missed promotion by a single point last season after prematurely singing ‘we are the champions’ at Xmas, we all knew we’d have a lot to prove this time around. There was a lot of positive talk in the build-up and – aside from Derek’s insistence on referring to Dalziel as ‘Shaka Hislop’ – everything seemed to bode well for the game ahead.

We began brightly. Our record on the famous slope last season was solid and we opted for the usual game plan (uphill first half then pressure them on the slope in the second, confident that gravity would keep guiding the ball towards their goal like a pinball machine).

However, as the first half progressed it became clear we weren’t at our best. We weren’t communicating and the 3-4-2-1 formation was also leaving us exposed as they overloaded the wings. Harrison, Terry, Jorge, Ditmir and myself are usually very creative from midfield but none of us really found our way into the game early on. This put pressure on our 3-man defence and Broomfield capitalized, striking first and then quickly getting a second, leaving us 2-0 down with half-time approaching.

Then it happened! Possibly the only positive from the game is that goal of the season might as well be announced already – this was a screamer! From a corner, Broomfield cleared it far out the box and seemingly to safety, but no one had reckoned with Ditmir lurking downfield. He stepped up apparently from nowhere (in a Ronaldo-like gunslinger stance no less) and before the ball could hit the ground, he hit a thumping, first-time volley from distance. The cleanest volley. The perfect volley. The ball raced through the air, and time seemed to stand still as it curved over the crowd in the penalty area, flying past the keeper into the far corner. The birds stopped singing, children cried, players wet themselves trying to understand what had just happened. A genuinely brilliant goal!

Despite the goal, at half time we had to reassess as the trademark 6s formation just wasn’t working. The Banny-Derek-Mike captaincy trio put into action ‘Plan B’ (a classic 4-4-2), and a positive half time talk sent us out full of belief. We looked a bit better, but frustratingly we got caught out with two more in quick succession – both good goals. Dalziel was also forced into an excellent save low down by his far post, doing well to push the ball away.

In the closing stages we came to come to life again and looked by far the better team, pulling one back when Jorge scored left-footed from the edge of the box, bringing it to 4-2. We could also easily have grabbed another when I put a ball in to Banny, but their keeper did well to get hands to it. Ultimately though it was all too little, too late from us. To be fair, Broomfield are a good side and will probably be our main competitors for the league this season. They put us under pressure throughout and made it difficult for us to play our game. However we are still rightly disappointed to lose it and need to get back to winning ways next week.

MOTM: Have to give credit to Ditmir, but Dalziel in goal wins it – the scoreline could have been a lot worse had he not made several excellent saves.

by Robin Law

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