Polytechnic Reserves 3 – Alexandra Park Reserves 3

SAL Intermeditate Div 2 | November 22, 2014

Scorers: Wilding, Bolger, Taylor

Poly Away; Flux, Gods and the Oppo.

Is there anything more important to a football team than its character? What is it about a team that gives it character? Is it togetherness? Leadership? A never-saydie attitude? Siege mentality? Is it confidence? A run of results? Rub of the green? A great player?

I think it’s probably all of these things in flux, tossed into the lap of the gods for direct measurement against the samecombined qualities of the opposition.

After doing very well to win last week against a poor opposition handed the fillip of being a man up for 50 minutes and despite conceding three cheap goals from errors early on, we knew that the Poly game would be a massive test. Poly aredefinitely one of the top sides in the division despite their mediocre start to the season. And so it proved. Poly were organised and played periods of good football, often orchestrated by their little number 12 (Eddie?) who lies deep in their midfield tying everything together for them a la Busquets. For our part though, we did manage to cut out the mistakes on Saturday and we didn’t fold despite needing to come back from being a goal down twice.

Here’s your bulleted breakdown of the action again:

  • We started well. For perhaps the first time this season and went one nil up from one of Dan’s delicious free-kicks that looked like it just needed the faintest of touches as it floated and arced into a dangerous area. But looks can be deceiving – in fact it needed no such touch and the dangerous area ended up being the back of the net. • One-all felt like it came against the run of play, but Poly do play some good stuff and got their striker in behind. We’ve seen Bardge save us from this hopeless situation so many times this season that it was almost a surprise he lost the come-out-or-stay-back gambit, but the lad finished it really well.
  • Before long we were two-one down – and Poly had their tails up. It felt like a real blow – the ball came back from a goal kick which I confess I should have contested better with their defenders. There might have been another chance or two to pressure the ball better before they were around the back committing Bardge and leaving an unguarded net (despite Macca’s despairing lunge) for their oncoming midfielder. Basically they powered through the middle of us and it was the kind of goal that suggested we were losing the battle.
  • But then the game settled again and we started to get more of a foothold. And that character was becoming more evident. Heads hadn’t really dropped. Mark and Ozan were picking us up manfully from the centre and Les, Ives and Sam were causing real problems. With the defence reasserting themselves and our football improving,we were creating a few half chances and deserved to bring it level with Sam’s well placed volley after a half-cleared corner.
  • Then came what should have been the killer blow. We didn’t get a touch of the ball from the restart as a sweeping move was slammed home from 20 yards by their midfielder. It was a great team goal, and no blame was attributable on our part – genuinely as good a team goal as I’ve seen at this level. Psychologically that’s one hell of a blow. Having worked so hard to get back into it, to then be slammed back within 30 seconds could easily have finished our challenge.
  • But we’re made of sterner stuff than that nowadays. And the manner of our climbing back into the game was perhaps most pleasing of all. No panic ensued. No change at all, really. We just kept going, stayed calm and patient. And we definitely deserved the equaliser after more sustained territorial advantage when a well taken free-kick from Laurence was met by a flying Oliver Reed header by last week’s star man Mark.
  • The last seven or eight minutes were slightly cagey, but we edged the chances and could have snatched it. In truth a draw was both a fair and excellent result though.

So what is it about character?

Why is it that sometimes teams fold, and sometimes, against the odds, they just hang in there and keep going back for more? What gives a team its character, its resilience? It’s hard to say, and in a way it would be a shame to know the magic. What can be said of the reserves is that this sort of result (and a four point return from Poly this season) is the kind that canget you promoted. In truth, the team that wins this division will likely take a couple of victories from similar positions this season. I’m not saying we can’t or won’t, but there’s plenty enough to suggest that even as we are we can be right in the mix come the spring and that if we are, we’ll be good value for it.

The Last Word.

Sometimes when you listen to Ozan you wonder if it’s possible that he’s as good as he thinks is. And on Saturday, he actually was as good as he thinks he is. His was the performance amongst several great showings that embodied the team more than any other. He worked hard, never stopped doing the right thing and never let his head drop.

Yes this is the same Ozan. Man of the match as much for his leadership and attitude as his distribution, strength and skill.

I think the usual scribe Andy Smith will be back next week for the trip to Actonians in the cup, so it’s probably right to reference his comments from his last match report when we drew with them in the league a couple of weeks back. He perceptively talked about finding the leaders on the pitch to push on this season. It is with pleasure that his stand in, two games and four points later, can report that the reserves have found their leaders in recent weeks.

Let’s keep pushing on.

[RIP Hughesie].

MoM: Gunes

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