Sunday, August 16, 2009

Three Thrillers

Saturday morning, 9am. LNJSA U12 soccer.
Cornerstone v Busselton Redbacks

We're into the Champions League play-off part of the season (the top 6 teams on the ladder) and the level of competition has increased significantly.
This was a BIG game. The Redbacks have been on top all season having lost only one game.
Last time we met thay beat us 6-3.
But we have improved a LOT since then.
Sport Boy was keyed up but confident.
The weather was cold wet and windy.
After a quick warm up and a few inspirational words from yours truly, "Keep your eyes on the ball", the game began.

We started well and had the better of the first half but took a while to get a goal on the board. When it came there was a touch of the bizarre. Ben C took a long range shot that beat the keeper and was headed for the back of the net when one of the defenders reached up and stopped it with his hands! Deliberate handball in the penalty area should be an instant red card but the ref didn't even blow his whistle! But before I could really amp up the protests the opposition coach said "It's OK Marcus, he's paid a goal". Apparently the kid was over the line by the time he grabbed the ball, but he was not sent off.

1-0 to Cornerstone but it was a portent of the standard of refereeing we would have for the rest of the game.
Jacob scored our second goal on a breakaway after a long clearance from Ben A in goal.
2-0 Cornerstone.

A succession of fouls followed, all committed against Cornerstone, none of them paid. After the 5th bad decision (or lack of decision) frustration got the better of me and I yelled out "What have you gotta do to get a free kick?" Pretty heavy duty ref abuse that!
A few opposition parents had a go at me and I was not as polite as I should have been in response.

Half time.
More inspirational words, "Keep up the good work".
And an apology to the afore-mentioned parents. Gotta do the right thing and set a good example for the kids!!

The second half kicked off.
A goal, this time to the Redbacks although Graeme was certain it was offside. In fact he said the linesman admitted it was offside too but refused to tell the referee! "It's too late now, he's paid the goal"!! Just what we needed, a spineless linesman.

The balance in the universe was restored not long after with another goal to Cornerstone, this time scored by Sport Boy, 3-1.
A goalmouth scramble followed and Daniel was there to poke it in, 4-1 and I was feeling good.

Sport Boy copped a knock on the knee and came off for a rest. Having told Ben A I'd give him a chance to come out of goal if the game allowed it I subbed Sport Boy into goal and Ben A went into midfield.
Whether the goalie switch had anything to do it with I don't know but the defense started to become quite shaky and Redbacks confidence grew accordingly.
Sport Boy made a couple of saves but there was a certain inevitability about Redbacks scoring another goal, 4-2.

There wasn't long to go and I wasn't overly concerned....until Redbacks scored again! The defense was all over the shop and Sport Boy had no chance, 4-3, suddenly Cornerstone was in trouble and Redbacks were full of belief. I was now genuinely worried.
We had been the best team all day but were now in danger of surrendering that supremacy.

The game seemed to go on and on; surely the ref had to blow the whistle to finish the game!

Thankfully he finally obliged a couple of minutes later and we'd won, 4-3.

It was a good win but I felt a little deflated at having conceded the late goals and spent some time in the post-game wrap-up emphasising the importance of concentrating till the end and a few other tactical issues.

It was not the last time I would nervously await the end of a game over the weekend!

The Cats survived a late scare to hold on and beat Sydney by 5 points at the Olympic Stadium and restore a bit of confidence in their form before the finals.

The Abletts, Swan Luke and cousin Cat Gary catching up after the game.
They prompted me to call ABC talkback and chide the commentators for not distinguishing which Ablett they were referrring to during the commentary. They admitted they'd been in the wrong not to do so but added the rider that Gary had had 44 possessions and Luke 6 and thus I could have safely assumed they were referring to Gary most of the time!!

Third play in the three card trick was Essendon's shock win over StKilda to bring their 19 game winning run to an end this afternoon. I was busy at a Beach Mission exec meeting when The Heir rang to ask if I was watching the game? "The Bombers are 17 points up half way through the 3rd quarter" he informed me.
"Keep me posted, text me the scores"
He did and as Essendon's lead got bigger we both celebrated.
Finally the meeting ended and I went out to the car to listen to the last 10 minutes of the game on the radio. (It was on Foxtel not FTA so I couldn't watch it)
But, the Saints were storming home! Essendon had been 43 points up at one stage but St Kilda kicked seven goals to none in the last quarter and had a full head of momentum.
The Bombers clung to a 3 point lead then with 9 seconds left Nick Riewoldt marked inside 50!
Collective groans in Perth and Bunbury (by this time The Heir and I had an open line on the phone and were riding the game all the way home!)
The siren went.
What drama!
Riewoldt to kick for goal and win the game after the siren!
Could StKilda maintain their winning streak and keep "The Perfect Season" going?
Would they go on and beat the all time record of 23 straight wins, set by Geelong in 1952-53?
Obviously I was hoping not!
Riewoldt shoots....and misses!!!!
Great rejoicing in Perth and Bunbury!

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