35/5 Blue 2018
RND 2 VS BHFC RED
WIN 1 - 0
Coming off a strong 6-1 win in Round 1 we were looking to capitalise in week two. But this was no ordinary match... it was a Baulko Derby... 35/5 Blue v Red. On the surface, a match to be played in competitive, but cordial spirit. It was... but the will to succeed once that line is crossed certainly came to the fore.
Conditions were warm... the sun was bright, and trying for the 'keepers. Oh, and did I mention the Force 9 gale that was blowing? 'Red' had both behind them in the first half. Keeping them out would be a challenge with long, high swirling shots anticipated. Raids were launched, but not really to the extent expected. All were handled relatively comfortably... our backs of Laurie, Jason, Jeff, Mich, Rai and Gerard assured in their rotating roles. Our 'keeper was busy, but had great coverage from the aforementioned defensive line. That said, the timing of coming off his line was important in the wind. It had to be devisive.
Our midfield was industrious... constantly probing... looking for ways to feed our forward line. Mick came close... a slice off his laces hitting post (again...insert ground hog day here for Mick). This didn't deter them and still they pushed forward searching for ways through. Finally after some great lead up work, with Jai heavily involved, Cory did his thing... 1-0 Blue. This is how it stayed until the break.
Given we were up and with the conditions favouring us in the second half, there was a quiet confidence we could go on and grab the three points... and this is where things got interesting. 'Red' came out full of intent and were making inroads, but we held our nerve. Play moved from end-to-end but there were no real guilt-edged chances.
The turning point, however, came midway through the half... a second yellow and subsequent dismissal of a 'Red' player. With nothing to lose they immediately upped the tempo... but we repelled all that came our way. In the end, this was a strong, and well controlled 1 nil victory.
And so to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients.
Jai: A continuation of last week's performance... always involved... always looking for a way through, ultimately creating the chance for the winning goal.
Our 'keeper, Yours Truly: Thank you defensive line... you made my job just that little bit easier, and finally...
Round 2 M.o.M., Gerard: A man of few words, but many actions. Was always there... from shutting down attacks to shepherding the ball back to the 'keeper. His positional awareness was outstanding. Congratulations Gerard.
RND 3 VS NORTH ROCKS RED
LOSS 4 - 6
Well unfortunately not even Our Lord and Saviour could have helped us today. Despite losing our Coach to a mystery illness just prior to kick off, no one could have foreseen what was to come... today's game was very much a case of The Good, The Bad... and The Very Very Ugly.
We headed into today's match off back-to-back wins to start the season... last week's 1-0 Derby victory had us in good shape for our first game against one of three North Rocks teams in our division. Fifteen minutes in and Ted No.2 was a happy place... 3 nil up with really well taken goals to Brian, Rai, via a deft flick/chip, and one clinical finish from Mick. Our talisman Cory missed today's game but it appeared as though all were queuing up to score. To Rocks' credit they kept pressing forward... our defenders and 'keeper were certainly kept busy. They were rewarded with a goal after a 'keeping fumble not long out from the break.
3-1 at half-time and plenty of reason to remain confident that we'd bag our third straight victory. Sadly, that's where The Good ended and The Bad took over. It was game on within minutes of the restart, Rocks pulling back to 3-2... and 3-3 not long after that. We had gone away from what had given us such a commanding lead... and were now facing wave after wave of light blue raids. We were struggling to clear our danger areas and and we seemed lethargic with our heads down.. but were holding on.... just. And then our lead was soon restored with Mick's second... ably assisted by Terry after the Rocks 'keeper spilt the ball. But this lead too, was only short lived... 4 all now the score after we failed to clear our area after a corner.
And now for The Ugly... A penalty for a stupid infringement...(did he really just do that in our box? Maybe he should also be the 2nd person in our team to be banned from entering it) and that had our 'keeper guessing the wrong way. Our misery was complete when a one-on-one challenge not only had the ball in the back of the net but our under siege shot-stopper clutching his ribs. And so it ended... 6-4 down.
To our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Andy: Solid in the centre of defence. Challenged strongly all day. Was getting great flight and distance on all goal and free kicks.
Gerard: Carried his M.o.M. form from last week into today's game. Chased hard and cleared more than his share of dangerous situations.
And finally... our M.o.M. Rai: Great goal, ran and chased hard all day, and but for a little luck, may have had multiple goals against his name... possibly even with his left foot.
So now that that performance is out of our system we dust ourselves off and get ready for North Rocks Assignment No.2 next weekend.
RND 4 VS NORTH ROCKS BLUE
LOSS 4 - 7
We could just say 'please refer to last week's report' but I have put my objective journalistic hat on and come up with the following. Try to enjoy it.
Having come to terms with last week's result... the aberration we had to have... Today was Mission North Rocks #2. We welcomed back Cory today and his impact was almost immediate. A nice interchange with Brian saw the latter net our first. We were on our way. Dave Brice had escaped the dreaded 'Cuddle Syndrome'. Working his way up from mid-field he doubled our lead... a great solo effort... the only thing missing was a Scorpion-kick finish, but we'd take it. We had all the running and were 3 to-the-good not long after... Ross slamming one high and to the right after a judicious ball from a patient Mick H.
This week it appeared as though Hazel Ryan was our happy place. To Rocks' credit they didn't stop pressing forward. They had a total disregard for the scoreboard and played accordingly. They were chasing the game and were doing so in a controlled manner. They pulled a goal back via a penalty and went into break at 3-2 down, scoring their second with only a minute left in the half. Just when we thought it was safe to dip a toe over that white line... surely we couldn't suffer the same fate for a second consecutive week. Any lead that was established would be held on to... no surrendering of it. The break, we thought, would allow us to re-group and go back to the style that gave us our lead. Within minutes of the resumption however scores were level... we had fallen back into the habits of last week... not a lot of talk nor assured clearances out of our danger area. We re-established our lead with a somewhat fortuitous goal to Cory... a fumble from their 'keeper that dribbled over the line.
Right... 4-3 up. Time to settle down and play OUR game. Easier said than done, and not long after it was 4 apiece. From there, Rocks just kept coming. They were rewarded with three rapid-fire goals... a penalty, a well-worked team goal and a howler by our own 2nd 1/2 goalie/coach Jase. This needs to be explained since it was hilarious to watch.... Here he was taking a free kick outside the box, muffs the kick and rolls to Rocks player who gives it a small nudge over his head and the ball bounces into the goal. Jase was on the ground like a kid who had lost his ball... All we could think or wonder, “how on earth do it get to this... again!”
And so there it was... a 7-4 loss... a result that even our opponents found hard to comprehend. But as always we will front up to training and get ready to go again next week.
And so to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients..
Cory: As always, a big presence up front. Heavily marked but still managed an assist and a goal.
David B: A great individual goal. Contested every ball that come his way. Worked hard, and ran all day... be it in the centre or at the back.
And finally... this week's M.o.M... Brian C: A real stand out. A goal that was scored with patience... he too ran all day... always searching for ways through or around the defenders. A truly whole-hearted effort.
Oh well... 'til next week.
RND 5 VS R.H.RANGERS
LOSS 1- 3
Before I start, what a great effort today.
Sure, we didn't get the result, but if we put in performances like that each week we will do so damage in this comp.
They say a week is a long time in politics.
Well I reckon that applies to football too... and for us, the last fortnight has seemed like an eternity.
We desperately wanted to put the disappointments of our last two matches behind us.
Today's opponent was a team we have had some great battles with... The Men In Black... Rouse Hill Rangers. This match would prove to be no different.
SuperCoach Jase put out a blue-print... identifying and explaining what was expected of each position... the man is an innovator.
It is fair to say that RouseHill had the early running.
Out wide and through the middle... they seemingly made yards at will.
They were rewarded not long after... 1 nil up after only five minutes.
Our 'keeper puts his hand up for this. Hesitation and not communicating with one's defenders is generally fatal. I think the boys all looked at each other and said no way can we let this team run over us.
As the half rolled on Rangers continued to sweep forward but ourdefending was strong and quite often the counter attack created chances seemingly out of nothing.
Cory was heavily marked throughout and was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty.
With the clock winding down we were going to the break just a goal behind, and right in the contest... or so we thought.
A play that came through the centre of the field caught us out and found our 'keeper in a one-on-one situation. In an attempt to cut the angle he was 'nuttied'... and so off to oranges we went two down.
The talk was very positive.
Jason re-iterated his plan... and there was a collective belief that the goals would come.
Not unexpectedly Rangers started quickly, but we were organised... players held their positions and continued to clear threats. There was a surety to our play that had been missing in recent weeks. Our 'keeper grew in confidence knowing that not much would get through but would have ample coverage and support for anything that did.
You could sense that Rangers were becoming frustrated at being repelled time and again.
Our talk was up... our clearances and passing assured.
It came to a head and the first card of the day was shown to them.
We were controlling play and knew it was a matter of time before we netted.
And suddenly there it was... a calm finish Cory into the bottom left corner.
It was nothing less than we deserved and it was 100% GAME ON!
There was still time and we would not relent.
Things were turning very willing. Contests for the ball were amping up... Jason picking up a booking in the process.
Rangers made a couple of late raids into our area... again, the contests were strong but nothing untoward, despite their claims for penalties. One, however, was given.
Sensing the way their taker was going our WCG went the right way and got a glove on it, but failed to keep it out.
And so it finished 3-1.. a score that flattered Rangers and an effort from our boys that promises only good things to come.
And so to our Player-of-the recipients.
This was the closest it has been in all my time here... no runaway winner and votes spread across the team... a reflection of EVERYONE playing their part.. well!
POTM points winners:
Willy : WELCOME BACK WILLY! An absolute rock at Sweeper. Nothing got through... cleared danger repeatedly and marshalled the defence with certainty.
Jai : In the points for a third time in five games... having a stellar run. As always, looking for ways through and to create. Great service provider to our wide men... contested everything.
Jason L: Laid the plan, made sure we all knew our roles... led by example. Never let up on his opponent... and really got into the fight. A real coach/skipper's knock!
Well done boys... a great game.
RND 6 VS NORTH ROCKS RED
LOSS 1- 3
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers in the Club.
Another week... another North Rocks team.
Our confidence was restored after the significant improvement in our performance last week to those of the prior two against the other North Rocks sides.
This wasn't going to be easy though.
Rocks 'Red' sat above us on the table, and the conditions... cold, wet and a Force 9 Gale, would make for an unpredictable game.
During the warm up the ball was swirling, dipping and skidding all over the place.
A shaky start, but we then moved the ball well, passes were finding their mark. No real chances created but signs were positive.
Rocks too though were pressing... this game was going end-to-end.
And so it continued...
Rocks did, however, strike first... pretty much out of nothing.
Failure to clear a ball from our area and our 'keeper beaten at his near post gave Rocks a 1 nil lead.
Once again with not much happening, and with our 'keeper only ever so slightly off his line, Rocks launched what could only be described as a speculator from around 40 yards. It swirled, dipped... and I think you can figure out what happened next.
2 nil Rocks...
The same can also be said for their third, though it was from well worked play with the crisp volley into the net also coming from distance.
Rocks on balance probably did have the running but we were by no means out despite going to the break at 3 nil down.
Conditions didn't abate in the second half.
We came out and instantly our play was positive... knocking the ball around... looking for better options... it wasn't a case of if, but when, we would get on the score sheet.
And finally some beautiful work. Mr Cory, was able to beat 2 defenders and finally the keeper.... a small tap was all that was needed to an open goal but nooooo, a little too much power and it went way over the cross bar. Howler of the week.
We were on a roll though, some play through the middle again, Jai and Mick as industrious and judicious as ever.....Brian forever making hard runs and Cory attracting two and three defenders at a time.
Mid way through the half, we struck. A long ball to Cory beat some defenders and fed it on to Brian waiting in front of an empty net... we were fortunate that the centre referee, correctly, overruled his Assistant's offside call.
We were back...
Play again continued back-and-forth.
We survived a couple of close calls with Rocks awarded free kicks within striking range. Our 'keeper too covering himself in glory with a full-stretch tip over the bar.
Unfortunately though we would get no closer and 3-1 is how we finished.
Again, really good signs and reason for optimism.
And so to our Player-of-the points recipients...
Rai : An absolute revelation at Right Back. Marked his man, cleared danger, tracked up and back, and made incisive runs upfield.
Gerard : As always 'VP’ our 'Quiet Achiever'. Held his ground and most assured in all situations.. even when collecting our 'keeper's hand when clearing the line... he wants nothing to get passed him.
Jason L: Another great game. An absolute handful at Stopper... Agressive... will not back down... I pity opposition strikers.
This week's M.o.M... Michel : Our 'Everywhere Man', playing sweeper for his first time... Clearances, tracking... it just seemed whenever something was needed, Mich was there. Just ran and ran. His launches from goal kicks too always had us pressing up field. An outstanding game...
RND 7 VS GLENHAVEN
LOSS 0 - 2
Having been assigned the role of mid-field sub this week, and thus allowing lesser mortals the chance to stake claims as WCG's, I was more than happy to put the team first...
Circumstances changed dramatically just before kick-off however with the non-appearance of the designated referee. Suddenly I had the whistle in my hands... along with a coin I couldn't toss.
I knew going into the game calls would be challenged... it's just part of the gig.
Today we were up against the second-placed Glenhaven. Known to occasionally question a referees decision.
And so we began.
From the outset a lot ball movement was the theme... and whatever Glenhaven did we matched with upbeat defence and great counter. We certainly weren't overawed... and nor should we have been, given our vastly improved performances of the last couple of weeks.
There was very little between us and Glenhaven thoroughly belying our positions on the ladder.
Our first real chance came through Rai who was back up front. It is fair to say that this took Glenhaven by surprise.
The danger was cleared but I could sense our belief was growing further.
Play continued with the odd free kick being awarded...
They were pressing however and having received and executed a quick corner, we struggled to mark up and they scored with a sharp header.
And that's what separated the teams at oranges.
Whilst not privy to the half time talk I would think that the lads were confident and upbeat. From my vantage point there was every reason to be.
The second half proved a little more challenging... tackles were willing and the pace was quick.
But again all that was thrown at us was repelled.
Glenhaven are obviously a team used to dominating. Their frustration at not being further ahead translated into continued calls for free kicks... to the point where a halt was called to issue a general warning.
Play was still amping up and with a contentious free kick awarded just outside the penalty area Glenhaven doubled their lead with a nice shot into the top right of the net. Jase had no chance.
Unfortunately we weren't able to claw a goal back despite the wholehearted efforts.
Strong clearances from the back fell to the forever heavily marked Cory.
Lead up play continually threatened Glenhaven... well worked moves through the midfield too though were denied the finishes they deserved.
That, and the final 2-0 result was disappointing... but we have the team, and more importantly the knowledge that we can push the teams atop the division.
I guess too, the hardest thing I had to do was card a couple of our own players.
I understand the frustration but fair is fair.
That said I wouldn't swap being a part of this bunch.
So now to our Player-of-the recipients...
Andrew : Very strong at the back, both on the ground and in the air. Went about his work without distraction and cleared many situations
Willy : Just hard! Fought for everything... would not give up his pursuit of the ball. The rock that all defensive lines need. Queried the odd refereeing interpretation of the rules... 😁
Jai : Very, very busy... attracted a lot of attention but continually probed (I really have to stop using that word) for ways through... deft touches... consistently beat the first man and was always tracking back in defence. A great all round effort.
So there it is boys...
Let's go get 'em next week.
RND 8 VS ROUSE HILL RAMS
LOSS 0 - 2
It pains your writer to pen this tale as we seem to be on a track none of us want to be...
Coming into today's game placed seventh we were looking to capitalise on promising recent performances and bag three points against the eighth placed Rouse Hill Rams.
A beautiful day, and a nice pitch all pointed to a lively game... well as lively as 35/5's gets anyway.
With our coach once again at the heart of defence as sweeper, anything Rams got would have to be earnt. Jason was vocal... and very clear on what he wanted.
The first half didn't really offer much to either side, although a nice save from Mich in defence on the goal line after a corner kick was headed in gave us a nice reprieve.
We toiled hard, but our passing and urgency in tracking back were noticeably down. A sideline comment “you guys look unfit” was probably true here..
That said Rams didn't really pose any great threat with shots taken done so from distance. A few went close but our 'keeper knew where his posts were and fortunately they drifted high, wide... and out.
The referee was intent on playing advantage and let the game flow when either side attacked, even though there were some interesting calls.
A well worked move saw Gerard have our only true shot on goal... a well taken one, also from distance, that sailed just high.
A so off to oranges we went 0-0.
As always, at the break we remained confident of getting the result... Jason reinforcing what we needed to do.
The second half was playing out much the same as the first with no real threats on goal. But again we just seemed out of sync.. passes that would normally find their mark didn't. We were turning a lot of ball over and just making things that little bit harder for ourselves. Lethargy was catching up... it was palpable.
Finally though, a breakthrough... but not the one we wanted.
Rams floated in a corner. The ensuing scramble and non-clearance resulted in a header that our 'keeper could only get fingertips to, knocking it on to the underside of the bar... and over the line.
1-0 down and despite being nowhere near our best we should have been able to grab something.
A finely punted goal kick, to the right side, Brian passes to Cory, and Cory beats one defender and then the keeper but takes the ball a little too far left and is unable to swing the ball back to an empty net... bugger!
Rams, however, kept coming and a raid through the middle left our defenders wondering and saw their one-on-one shot knocked down... but tapped in on the follow through.
2 nil... and from there one just sensed it wasn't going to be our day.
Mich went down with a hamstring injury that looks likely to sideline him for a number of weeks...
Cory was yellow carded for scoring and impeding the 'keeper’ from a quick throw to one of his players...although from last night’s Benzema’s goal for Real Madrid, looks like it should have been allowed and the goal awarded...we would have been right back in the game.
And that's how we finished... an opportunity lost.
And so now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Laurie : First points of the year. Impact from the bench... ran every which way, turning his body inside and out. A solid defensive effort. Also seems to have found his voice and not afraid to make his opinion known now that he’s in the points.
Gerard: Our quiet Mr Consistent... in the points three out of the last four weeks. Went about his role positively... great tracking... great positioning and had our only real genuine shot.
This week's M.o.M.. Rai : ran all day... solid in defence when coming back, and unlucky up front... could not get the bounce of the ball. Deserved more for his efforts.
And so to next week boys... let's fire up and grab some points.
RND 9 VS WINSTON HILLS
WIN 3 - 0
Well, well, well......What a difference a week can make. It was time for reflection... for thought processes to be considered... and to figure out a way to snap our six game losing streak. Today we were up against Winston Hills, a team that we tend to do well against. Of course though, nothing should be taken for granted. We need points now to prevent our season slipping away.A confident but conservative approach is a safe strategy. So, on a grey-ish afternoon on Ted 3 we line up... a couple of new faces for Winsto, their No. 32 will take some marking, and we were without Mick, Willy, Mich and Ross. Play swept from end to end early on. No real chances were created from either side, but our talk was up, our positioning was certain and our passes were assured. Winston Hills did have the chance to take the lead. A break through the middle saw their striker one-on-one with our 'keeper. Coming to the ball and making himself big(ger) the shot was blocked... the resultant deflection clearing any danger. From there we swept downfield. Slick ballwork saw the ball at Cory's feet. Having beaten the defender, his shot was then deflected back to him by their 'keeper.. it was then in the back of the net having hit the post on its travels there. 1-0
The game was opening up, and we were most definitely in the ascendancy. Our second goal came through a tried and true combination of Cory and Brian... the latter netting with clean strike. Our defence was combining well with our mids... we were attacking at will. Not long after we had our third... sublime play... Terry to Rai... Rai to Cory... Cory with a through ball to, you guessed it, Brian... and we know how that usually finishes. So, three to the good at oranges. Yes, we have had such leads previously and not got the points. Today would be different... you could sense it.
The second half produced no further goals but we were not going to give Winston Hills a look in... our defence would not relent. Dave came up some fine interceptions. Cory dropped back into defence also. He had picked up a yellow earlier... a shoulder-to-shoulder with maybe a little more...and foul. During this passage of play there was a beautiful string of passes from the left back back to the backs and then to the mids, mids to right side ... and then up that end but to no avail... Winston Hills were getting frustrated and were arc-ing up... but that should be seen as a credit to our play. If we ask Loz how his shots at goal went, we would hear they were close, others would say they were wildly of the mark...and then his free kick...it wasn’t pretty... As with all games we play there is always a ‘howler’. A Winsto long distance shot at goal soared through the air and somehow slipped out of our Keepers hands/arms/chest.... dropped it did, fortunately Andy came scooting in and swept it away...it could have been worse. A couple of incursions into our area resulted in corners... one the result of a free kick punched over the byline by our 'keeper. And that, then, was that. Back in the winner's circle... deservedly so.
And so now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Cory :Got the opening goal, proved a handful as always when on the ball, and as we found out later, when defending against it.
David B: Welcome back Dave! Gone were the 18 yard box cuddles... replaced by hard running through the centre, and robust challenges that often resulted in play sweeping swiftly upfield. For a man that is unfit he gave it his all!
This week's M.o.M... yet again: Gerard . Just keeps on keeping on. No frills, but just knows his role. Assured clearances, solid defence.. well worked moves with the mids. Always where he needs to be.
RND 11 VS BHFC RED
WIN 6 - 1
Derby Day MK II has arrived. After last week's washout we were champing at the bit to play and build on our win over Winston Hills. The sun was out, Field 1 was slick and bouncing... truish. From the outset we appeared in control... our passing was accurate and we seemed to be camped in the 'Red' half. Gerard bagged our first goal. Working his way up from the back, and having received the ball after lead up work through the middle, he appeared to have an eternity to line up and shoot from around 20 yards. It sailed high and into the opposite corner. Play continued to flow back and forth, but as before, we appeared most likely. Our second goal was a calmly taken penalty by our talisman Cory. It was contentious... 'Red' claiming handball before Cory was fouled. Did he handball it... history will show he did not. We were now clearly dominating and with the promise of an extra $500 per goal on the bar at Shirish's 50th later that night, we were queuing up. The injection of our renowned hard man and WCG, who was enjoying a rare foray in the outfield, saw a classic shoulder-to-shoulder challenge resulting in his opponent laying prone over the sideline... a dubious free kick conceded. Years of being holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London have left said opponent, let's call him 'JA' very angry. Play, however, moved on and by half time Cory had his second, our team their third... and the drinks promised to be flowing at 'The Winston'. It took a little while to find our groove in the second stanza. We conceded off a set piece... our deputy 'keeper punching the ball into an attacker, for it to then ricochet into back of the net. From there we upped the tempo... we would not be haunted by 'Ghosts of 3 nil Leads Past' this week. Soon after we had our fourth.. a pinball effort from Rai... the movement having started from the deep right. He had his brace within minutes... a sublime through ball from the aforementioned hard man setting him on his way, debate raging as to whether or not he was onside. The boys in back were working harder this half, with Willy, Andy and Jeff blocking most attempts to get through.
5-1 up and it was just a case of seeing how many more we could score.. The answer? One. A carbon copy of Gerard's first goal... though this time it was from a free kick. The only other event that needed mentioning was when Pop dribbled the ball down to the defence and promptly fell over and fell asleep leaving the bench in absolute stitches.
So there it was 6-1 to the Good Guys.
And now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients..
the penalty to give us a two goal lead, but dropped back into a more defensive
role in the second half... no one was getting through him.
(Joint) Ross : A sound effort from our deputy 'keeper. A couple of rookie errors... most notably not taking a cap onto to the field when looking into the sun.
Gerard: Here we go again... 😁 Seriously though, never has a bad game. Rewarded for his industry with a brace... two ripping goals.
This week's M.o.M... Our newly ordained half-centurion, 'Skip' Shirish: Played a great game in a defensive role, using all the guile of his 50 years to outwit his opposites... a great captain's knock.
RND 12 VS NTH ROCKS BLUE
DRAW 1- 1
With confidence high after our thumping 6-1 derby win last week it was time to capitalise. But today's was no ordinary game. We were up against North Rocks Red... and we had demons to bury. Hazel Ryan was a picturesque bog on a beautifully sunny northwestern Sydney day. Rai, had one job, just one job, to win the toss and run from the canteen end so our keeper did not have the sun in his eyes in the first half. Needless to say this task was not successfully completed. And so we were underway...
It was pretty clear from the outset that both teams were determined to press up field... and quickly. Play was moving from end-to-end... each side venturing around and/or into their opponents box. Defence from each team, however was strong. Opportunities did present themselves, but either a wayward shot or quick reactions from each 'keeper made sure the match scorer had little work to do. On the balance of play Baulko was the better side... very composed. Rocks, on the other hand, were always looking for the quick break and cheap free kicks.
Baulko, however, got their reward when Brian was fouled in the area. Cory stepped up and calmly slotted it in. One nil. A deserved lead, but one we would have to fight to maintain. Our 'keeper was being called into play often, but our defence was excellent. Any threats were quickly cleared... the backs were decisive in getting the ball downfield and out of harm's way. Before we knew it, the half was done... our one goal lead intact. We knew the second half would be tricky. We were defending the end that was heavy under foot... our 'keeper constantly banging his boots on the posts to rid them of the mud that was caked to them. Defending was paramount, the ball could, and would, do anything on this surface... be first to the ball, but be sure of your timing. We also had to be careful with our tackles.
Free kicks were awarded to both sides, and whilst those taken by Rocks were from more dangerous areas one sensed we would keep them out. And we did until a cheeky toe poke from point-blank range beat our 'keeper who got down to it... just not quickly enough. It's fair to say he was disappointed not to keep it out. Baulko... well, we wouldn't drop our heads. We wanted this win... and we looked to have snatched it, only for Brian to have been called offside in the lead up... the referee steadfastly refusing to send it to the VAR. And so that's how it ended... the spoils shared.
Yes, we have won games convincingly this year, but from my vantage point I don't think we have played better. If we put performances like that out each week then we will make a real play for finals football. Well played lads... all of you!
so now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
David B: Much like Gerard, a quiet achiever. Goes about his work in the midfield with great determination, foiling the opposition, but also adept at turning defence into attack... quickly! Today was no different.
Our WCG... John P: Modesty precludes him from saying too much. Made a few saves, but fed off the confidence his defenders gave him. And finally...
This week's M.o.M Willy T: Pretty much a no-brainer. Invariably at the heart of defence when we deliver a performance like that. Instills confidence in those around him... will make a decision a doggedly execute it. A great effort.
And so there we have it boys. Let's get up and go again next week. Ciao for now...
RND 13 VS NORTH ROCKS WHITE
LOSS 2- 3
The team would like to thank Cath & Cam and the volunteers that helped setup Ted 1 at the last minute after the said manager of the team missed the setup memo while in China.
Another beautiful winter's day in Baulkham Hills... Ted 1 looking a picture. We were up against North Rocks White... the second of the Rocks trio... and the one that embarrassed us 7-4 last time around. Coming off arguably our 6th best performance of the season thus far, we were feeling confident. Our concern though was with our mounting injury toll... Mich already sidelined with a grade 1.5 hamstring tear... Laurie with a grade 6 hamstring tear... the likes of which have never been seen before. Rai with a dodgy quad.. and Jai injured his hamstring at training. The latter two would bravely take the field all needled up. North Rocks came out firing from the get-go... we were immediately on the defensive. Our goal was constantly under siege, yet we managed to counter all raids. Unfortunately our touch was a little off... passes were landing at the wrong feet... and we just seemed to be second to the ball. For all of that though we held Rocks out until the very last kick of the half... Terry had been told years ago to not enter the penalty box due to some previous ‘incidents’ and unfortunately he backed into a Rocks player affectionately known to the team for his Logie inspirations and went down like he had been shot. So 1 nil down at oranges.
Extra troops though were now on hand for the second stanza... the cavalry had arrived. OK, so it was only our WCG. He would attempt to impersonate a midfielder. We were pressing upfield and were matching Rocks in this half however, to go two down was disappointing... but by no means were we beaten. We soon went three behind and it would make a comeback tough... but as we have seen first hand this season, three goal leads can be overrun. Sustained pressure got us a corner. This resulted in our first goal... off Brian's head. It was, however overshadowed, by an off-the-ball incident that saw Willy headbutted. His protagonist was asked to leave the field by the official but not booked since they had not seen it. Anyway one back... two more to get. Time was running out... but our belief wasn't. We had our second... a penalty calmly slotted by Cory after he was brought down in the box. Time, though, did beat us and we finished 3-2 down... but by no means through lack of effort.
so now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Ross T: Once again ably deputising for our WCG. Pulled off a couple of fine saves... but don't get too comfy Roscoe... I am back next week... 😁
David B: Sweating like it was a UK heatwave...Once again, a tireless effort in the midfield. Defence was outstanding... as was his transition of defence into attack. Delivers... week in, week out. And finally...
This week's M.o.M... Willy T: Back-to-back Best on Grounds. Was running busted... got taken out with a dog shot, but just kept going... just kept turning up. Inspired all around him.
RND 10 VS KNIGHTS
LOSS 1 - 5
Well, well... What a difference 24 hours can make. Coming off a thoroughly deserved win over Rouse Hill Rangers yesterday we were looking to grab maximum points against the bottom placed Hills Knights. Whilst we wouldn't take them lightly, it was a game we went into with confidence... we do have a good record against them.
And so we were underway. From early on it was evident we wouldn't have this all our own way. Hills had a few ring ins and they were making a difference. On balance, Knights spent more time in our area throughout the first half. But, like yesterday, our defence was holding. Talk was down though. We started to play more downfield and while they had the odd off-chance, it was us who took the lead. A nice sweeping move saw Brian grab his second goal in as many days. We were on our way... and it seemed it would be just a matter of time before our lead was increased. Knights had other ideas though. Their persistence was rewarded with a goal from close range after we failed to clear our area.
Soon after, they had a second... “Andy” bagging his first of the year. 2-1 down at half-time... but no reason to panic. The sun was getting lower and would cause our 'keeper problems, but for the most part we were pressing forward and looking to equalise. Again though, our talk was worryingly low.. no putting of names to balls was leading to simple turnovers. We had also lost Jai to injury early in the half. Then a point that turned the half. Our 'keeper having taken possession of the ball was collected and ball dispossessed..... complaining proved futile. 3-1... and now our job was getting harder. A free kick awarded to Knights a short time later resulted in their fourth... the aforementioned sun totally concealing the shot, taken and struck by one of their new players. It rippled bounced past our keeper. A fifth goal, one that officially sealed our doom, was scored with barely minutes remaining...
And so there it was. A 5-1 defeat... a result we didn't see coming and one that places our finals aspirations under immense pressure. And so to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Gerard: in the points again... and with no wonder. Covered acres of ground switching from one side of the field to the other. Ran all day
Willy: Continued his recent excellent form. In everything at the heart of defence. Would control play... look for options and even press forward. And finally...
Today's M.o.M... Brian C: Brian grabbed our goal that we thought would set us on our way. Consistently threatened Knights' defence... venturing into their area almost at will. Like Gerard, ran hard and gave his all. Was unlucky to have not had two, or possibly more goals, to his name.
RND 14 VS RANGERS
WIN 2 - 1
Today's game was the first of this weekend's double-header. It would be ideal to bag six points... but we can't get too far ahead of ourselves. We are up against the fifth-placed Rouse Hill Rangers. They sit six points ahead of us... and have a team full of players with big boots who don't mind shooting from distance. Today's blustery conditions were tailored made for them.
We started well. The majority of play was in their half. Our passes were kept low and out of the breeze. They were accurate and allowed us to continually push forward. Rouse Hill too, though, were finding ways deep into our area but our defence never really appeared threatened. Brian and Terry were making great runs, particularly down the left hand side. Rai was doing likewise on the right. Mick was very vocal from the right of midfield and Cory was, as ever, heavily marked whilst being a constant threat. We had a few nervy moments ourselves though. Our 'keeper spilled a couple of high balls and Rangers' No.6 started trying his luck from a ways out... one swirling shot hitting the top corner of the posts.
So, 0-0 at half-time. As always the talk was positive. We identified areas where we could break them down, and then, hopefully, go on and get the win. The wind had noticeably picked up. It wasn't necessarily favouring either side, more it was blowing across field. Still, it was making things difficult... the 'keepers especially, needing to stay alert. The second half was being played out in much the same manner as the first with no real clear chances. Would the game end in a 0-0 stalemate? That thought would soon be buried. Their No.6 Hit! Hope! Goal! Our 'keeper needs to put his hand up for it. Sure, it was moving all over the place, but his effort was not that of a WCG. 1-0 down with still around twenty minutes to play. Not that it was lacking, but our urgency seemed to increase from that point.
It didn't take long before we were back on level terms. Brian found himself in space down the right and fired across the 'keeper. Barely minutes later were ahead with Terry slotting one in from the left. This game was now ours to take. The whole team was energised... Cory was shooting almost at will... Willy's great from from the last couple of weeks was continuing, constantly feeding balls through and defending asstoutly as ever. Mick went close to icing the cake only to see his shot ricochet off the post (Again!). Time was nearly up, but there would be another twist. Surely not! Rangers were awarded a contentious penalty. Up steps their 6 to equalise... or so he thought. If only he had placed it instead of trying to whack the cover off it. Our 'keeper managed to move the right way... knocked it down and even a 2nd attempt by the shooter was knocked away.
And so that's how we ended up... 2-1 to the good. But our weekend's work is only half done. Now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients..
Our WCG John P: Managed to drag himself into the points with THAT save.
Joint M.o.M: Cory. As always a handful... a big presence. Didn't get on the scoresheet, but just created havoc and frustrated Rangers no end, and
& Terry C: His best game of the year. Grabbed a thoroughly deserved goal. Ran all day, fed dangerous balls into the area and tracked well in defence.
RND 16 VS GLENHAVEN
LOSS 0 - 3
So, barring teams above us being struck by lightning, our finals ambitions for Season 2018 have, unfortunately, been extinguished. Our remaining games shall be played with a 'devil may care' attitude and to just be of nuisance value. And that is how we approached today's game against Glenhaven. Leading the competition by a mile, but having only beaten us 2-1 in somewhat contentious circumstances in the first round, we knew we could trouble them. On a goat track, under (delayed) lights, boot polish under the eyes and with a radical line-up named by the SuperCoach (OK, so it was only the WCG coming out of goal, but when you write the reports...) we set about our task of spoiling Glenhaven's unbeaten season. The temperature was cool, but the play was heating up. Both teams were very willing going end to end... and Glenhaven didn't like it. Clearly frustrated by an inability to find the net through great scrambling, they were fortunate to get away with some of their challenges... and they were getting lippy too... surely it was their right to beat us. We lost Manager Mich to a knee injury midway through the first half... our bench reduced to three. But still we played with plenty of enthusiasm to deny them and only a wonder-strike would separate us at half-time... pity it was Glenhaven who scored it with the last kick of the half.
Talk was up during the break. We had goals in us. We would push forward... with nothing to lose. Glenhaven wanted to win this though. They were winning free-kicks in dangerous areas... and again great scrambling, coupled with some fine saves from our deputy WCG kept them at bay. We, however, could not get a decision... and Willy's sin binning later in protest at another poor call was bordering on... Glenhaven had got a second... unfortunately it was an own goal by Jeff. Great goal Jeff! The half wore on and they would get a third... but not before we were denied a penalty... Brian clearly brought down in the box. We would press on,Cory industrious as always... Terry making great runs down the right. It was not through a lack of effort, everyone was outstanding.... but we just couldn't get that goal.
And so it finished 3-0 To Glenhaven. Now to our Player-of-the-Year points recipients...
Cory H-R: Heavily involved, but marked, as always. Strong presence on and off the ball... even picked up a booking for refusing to tolerate Glenhaven's antics, and
Brian C: Forever making runs down the flank... a constant threat. Denied a penalty. And...
This week's M.o.M: Gerard . Stop the fight! Just keeps delivering top shelf games. Always competing.. continues to defend strongly allowing us to then counter. Well done mate.
Two more weeks to go boys... let's go out with a bang!
RND 15 VS NORTH ROCKS BLUE
WIN 1 - 0
With our season well and truly on the line, an injury list a mile long, and our Origin players backing up, today was do-or-die. We needed a result, plain and simple. Having only ten of our squad available we were forced to bring in reinforcements. All performed admirably, and whilst I will mention more later on, a big thanks goes out to Ben Hurst, Jason Curry and 'Big' Goran. Running with the aid of absolutely no breeze in the first half we sought to take the game to the higher-placed North Rocks. Whilst we dominated early possession, play was sweeping from end to end. Rocks, however, did have a couple of go-to men who consistently posed a threat.
The first half wore on and we appeared the most to open the scoring. We were in their half for long periods, Ben and Jason controlling things nicely in the midfield... Terry and Brian working busily on the flanks. Rocks, however, were the team to break the deadlock. Somewhat against the run play, they swept upfield, and despite having repelled them earlier, managed a shot on goal. Our WCG managed to knock it away only for them to bang it in from the ensuing scramble. It was at this point too that in his desperation to clear the area, our hard-as-nails defender Gerard collected our 'keeper with an elbow flush to the kidneys. He just stared at him as he lay prone, yelling at jim to get up (OK... so that last bit isn't entirely true). Despite our repeated pushes upfield we were not able to equalise and went to the break one down... but we alson knew we had goals in us.
The second half, as it played out, had us defending more than in the first.... Andy, Mich and Jeff particularly busy. Again, when we had possession, we held it well. If individuals weren't venturing downfield, then our passes to teammates in better positions were finding their mark... but unfortunately we just couldn't find the back of the net. Shots were landing high, wide, and not so handsome. That was until Brian (he told me to write the next bit) took one for the team. After a trademark cything run into the box, he was fouled, and hit the deck. Up stepped Mr Reliable, Cory, to calmly slot the goal. Trying to consolidate a spot in the top four, Rocks were throwing plenty of bodies forward... our defending had to be certain. And it was. Two late free kicks, well within range, were awarded to Rocks. One went wide, the other to our 'keeper for a 'comfortable' save.
And so there it was... a 1-0 win to the Good Guys... well according to Laurie anyway. Not paying attention he had missed Rocks' goal. (He sought confirmation from numerous people). And so now to our Player-of-the Year points recipients...
Jeff C: Quite possibly his finest game of Season 2018. Outstanding defensively... always managed to be where he needed to be and distributed well.
Mich: 'The Janitor'... always mopping up. Just does not stop running... curtails situations before they get dangerous, quite often turning them into counter-attacks . And finally...
This week's M.o.M...Andy N: Combined, beautifully, some would say telepathically, with Jeff to shut down Rocks' major threat. Held the centre of defence tight... and was most effective with his, at times, unorthodox clearances. So there we have it.. a much improved performance on last Sunday's debacle...
Looking forward to next week already..
RND 17 VS ROUSE HILL RAMS
LOSS 2 - 3
The penultimate round of our season. Time to bang in a few goals... have a laugh, but more importantly exact revenge on Rouse Hill Rams. This would be no easy task however. We were missing Willy, and both Manager Mich and WCG Johnny had both picked up season-ending injuries. 'Ted 1' was picture perfect on a beautifully mild mid-winter's afternoon. Confidence should have been high.
Our performance last week against Glenhaven was outstanding... surely we'll carry that form through. We are underway, and from the very outset we looked good. Play would move from end to end, but on balance we appeared the better side... our passing in particular, a highlight... most every ball finding its mark in a better position. There was fair banter... primarily over the freakish throw ins from Rouse Hill. They were long and posing a threat each time. Our defence was strong... it is hard to recall many clean shots from them early on with Jase cutting most shots off.
The midfield was working nicely... gifting great through balls to Brian and Terry. Brian went oh-so-close with what would have gone down as an absolute wonder strike, only for it to hit the post and ricochet across the face of goal. Not long after though, we had our reward. Terry knocked in a left-footer... Rai delivering a sublime pass across to him. 1 nil up... half an hour gone... nothing less than we deserved. Rouse Hill wouldn't go away and with a bit of possession and sustained pressure had their equaliser... nothing special, we didn't attack and clear the ball when needed, but a goal nonetheless.
So, 1-1 at the break.
Not a great deal was said at halftime... why fix what wasn't broken? The second half started... we'll go on with this. Throughout, Cory was his forvever menacing presence.. a complete handful... Mick, looking totally 'gassed' but never giving up on a chase. Our commitment couldn't be denied. But as stated Rouse Hill wouldn't back down, and in fairness, took the lead with a great strike. A third would soon have followed save for the linesman's flag. A bullet dodged... time to reset and equalise ourselves. For all our industry though it wasn't coming. Rouse Hill did soon have their third, our Deputy WCG making a valiant attempt after appearing to have been wrong-footed (although some on the bench were calling it a howler...). All of a sudden we were chasing the game. Rai got our second... a great ball supplied by Terry, and now it was Game On with about ten to go. We would press hard and high but unfortunately just couldn't grab a third.
And so it ended... a 3-2 defeat in a game where so much seemed to be going to plan. Oh well... there's always next week... right? I digress now to our Player-of-the Year Points recipients...
In his words 'I'm Back Baby'...Rai: A defender in the first half... an attacker in the second. Chased hard when protecting our goal and always looking to sneak through when pressing upfield. Rewarded for a fine all round performance with a well taken goal (was there a hint of left foot in it)?... and,
SuperCoach, Jason L: Played tough! Looked busted on a number of occasions but just kept getting up. Cleared a number of dangerous situations with both boot and astute use of his height. A great knock!
This week's M.o.M...Terry C: Seamlessly carried his form from last week into today's game. Ran non-stop, forced turnovers and throw-ins... constantly turned his defender inside out. A goal, but most importantly these three points, absolutely nothing less than was deserved... a great game Tez. Now, all of a sudden, we have just one game of Season 2018 to play. Let's go out, score a bagfull and wrap the year up in style.
RND 18 VS WINSTON HILLS
LOSS 0 - 2
And so the day has arrived... the day upon which the curtain falls on our season. Time to play some carefree football. Today we were up against Winston Hills, a team we usually enjoy success against... a team like us, sadly, out of finals contention. Our work would be cut out for us... no team can afford a Superstar Trio of a WCG, a striker called Mr Cory and a Pommy who answers to the name of 'Cuddles' to be watching from the sidelines. That was our lot, but as always we had faith in our ability to overcome any obstacle. We would go out, have fun and just whack in a few cheeky goals. Winston Hills, too appeared to be of a similar mindset.
On a hard pitch, and with bounce more than true, each side struggled to control the ball when coming at them from height. The aim of the game was to keep the ball on the deck, and to be certain of our passes... oh, and to avoid taking a tumble on the cricket pitch. Play was fairly even... we'd break, they'd counter and so-on-and-so-forth. Not really having anything to play for was probably telling... both teams anything but clinical when near the target early on. That said, the usual suspects... Terry, Brian, and Gerard would push forward looking to create opportunities. It was 'Winsto' however, that would break the deadlock.
Credit where it is due... a well worked move finished after a fine cross was slotted home into the narrowest of gaps afforded by our Deputy WCG (his short term 'keeping contract is now under review). OK, so we're a goal down... no big deal. We'll strike back and head to the sheds all tied up and then blow them away in the second stanza. Alas, with virtually the last kick of the first half we would be two behind. Seems our pace men were all on the bench so we were unable to chase down their men. I am now revisiting my previous comment.
2nd half, and proving to be a Jack-of-all-Trades, Terry took his place between the sticks as our GK. A small twinge in the hammy forced him in there and what an inspired performance it would turn out to be. The second half, whilst full of endeavour, and the odd challenge more often seen in earlier rounds, was a relatively dour affair. We had good touch in the middle and were moving the ball to the sides but we seemed unable to capitalize when we were in the box.
The end was nigh, urgency levels ebbed and flowed... both teams were playing for time. Possibly the most riveting moments were Jeff's calves bulging with each throw in. Unfortunately our efforts went unrewrarded in the second half, though 'Skip' Ponala nearly slammed home a cracking own goal. It went wide... but Coxy had it covered anyway. That we held them scoreless during this period is a credit to our defence. But the whistle has now sounded, and The Fat Lady is belting out her favourite ditties... our season over... a 2 nil defeat.
So now to our final Player-of-the-Year points recipients of this campaign...
... and before highlight today's exploits, neither of these two gentlemen should have played... lesser mortals would have pulled out with such injuries...
Mich: Had no right to be running around with a bung knee. As always was everywhere... attack, defence... it didn't matter. Unlucky not to have netted in the second half, with a lovely header from a corner.
Jai: A player who hates sitting on the sidelines... his hammies are cactus, but with strapping, went out and played his usual aggressive game... He was always probing... always forcing his opposite to make hasty decisions.
Well done lads.
But now to our last M.o.M. award...
AND STOP THE PRESSES!
We were duped by our 321 Votetron 3000. Apparently the night before a collusion of sorts was devised and new coding ensured that Mick and Laurie would be equal 3 point winners... it was lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous. Even egregious and preposterous. More information below on the scandalous actions. Anyway, as chance would have it, Laurie did end up with 3 points... although not sure anyone believes any of it anymore...it’s a dark day when you can’t trust the voteron 3000 built by our webmaster.
Lawrence W: Jeers... Laurie! What took you so long? A performance of some note after, if we are brutally honest, an indifferent season... one, in his defence, interrupted by lower body part injuries. An astute effort in the centre of defence... blotted only by a thoroughly deserved booking.
So there we have it boys... a season ended in somewhat controversial circumstances... but if you will indulge me for just a moment... I have had a ball, again, this year. We had some new faces... we have played great football at times... and some not so great. I have enjoyed every minute on the park... at training... talking general gibber at Crisis Meetings, and writing these reports. Sadly, I will NOT be leaving the club... you are stuck with me again next season. 'til we meet again boys...
It was Mad Monday (Sat night, we all have day jobs).... News was filtering through at around 10pm of voting anomalies... irregularities if you will. An elaborate 'sting' had taken place... a plan hatched the previous evening over a beer and the footy. This would make the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election look like amateur hour. A Press Statement at around 10.30pm is when the admission of the ruse was made public by one Dr Michael Hollins. Of course he blamed Russian hackers but we all knew what went down. Our outraged Manager Mich Deprez resigned immediately and walked out in disgust. Dancing and singing at 'The Bull' continued on though.