Alexandra Park 9s 2 – Alexandra Park 10s 2

SAL Junior Div 5 North | October 28, 2017

Scorers: Reid, Lagos

After all of the talk in the team Whatsapp group and a flurried fever of anxious checking of the club website for squad news on Thursday evening, Saturday marked the biggest game of the season so far for Alexandra Park’s perfect 10(‘th team). The inter-club derby against the 9s was finally afoot.

While the league position showed the 9s sitting pretty at the top of the table, confidence was high in the 10s camp that a good performance could get the three points needed to close the early gap that had arisen between the two teams.

A strong 6-3 win from the 10s a mere two weeks ago was enough to convince skipper Robert Holder that the team would line up with a three man defence of Coleman, Gayton, and Denyer. Sarna and Reid were the men tasked with holding the midfield while Lagos played provider just behind a front two of Holder and Daly. Finally, the wing positions were covered by Layfield and Santana to complete a 3-4-1-2 formation that would have Pep Guardiola himself nodding in appreciation.

The 10s started the match kicking downhill with the wind assisting, and early signs were positive; chances were created with Daly and Holder harrying the 9s backline, provided with ample service from the probing midfield passes of Sarna and Reid, who were also keeping the 9s midfield honest with a number of crunching midfield challenges.

For all the early pressure, the 10s defensive three were still tested numerous times early on by the 9s front-line, despite assistance from the two wingers on this front. Nevertheless, despite good chances for both teams, the respective defenses remained unbreached as the whistle sounded.

A half-time change saw the 10s revert to 4-3-3, with Layfield and Gayton dropping to full-back in an effort to combat the pressure from the 9s wingers. Balasz came into the middle with Lagos and Sarna, with Holder Jr. and Jackson coming on in the winger position for some fresh impetus in the attacking roles.

Ironically, the defensive change looked to have backfired after two goals were conceded within 20 minutes of the restart…

The first came from a long kick downfield from the 9s ‘keeper which was missed by all; the 9s striker pounced as the ball bounced over the 10s back-line and he delivered a calm finish into the corner. The second was scored by the same striker as he was left unmarked in the box following a set piece. All at once, the 10s were at sea without a paddle or a lifejacket. Or a boat for that matter.

But this 10s team are made of stern stuff. Battling a two goal deficit, a sloping pitch, and an unforgiving wind they slowly started to grab a hold of the game and string together some pleasing football. It paid dividends; instead of launching the ball forward as is a Saturday league centre-back’s wont, a calm and eagle-eyed pass from Coleman into the path of Lagos allowed the attacking midfielder to slide a measured finish under the keeper. It was 2-1 and game on. The second goal, while less aesthetically pleasing from a purist’s point of view, did the job and levelled the scores. A long throw into the box had Holder and Daly challenging by the post; the ball broke to Reid and he finished smartly from just inside the box to level the game. Reid’s goal lifted the team immediately; the three points were back in sight. However, despite the best efforts of both teams, the score was to remain level. Some late pressure from the 9s threatened to undo all of the 10s’ hard work in equalising, but it was clear no-one was meant to win this game and both teams left the pitch with a point; battered, bruised, but aware that they had played their part in another classic clash between these two outfits.

10th Team / Match Reports