On Saturday March 8th we played game nº20 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Kelly’s Leg.
Following a two-match losing streak vs. R.R.C. and mtlsoccer.com, MISN Impossible had managed to reverse the trend last week with a 5-4 win over Wood Gundy. We had obtained a valuable 3 points, but still played rather average for our usual standards, and it was obvious we needed to make some further improvements to get in shape for playoffs at the end of the month. Our match against Kelly’s Leg today was going to serve just that purpose.
Attendance-wise, Eric returned from his holiday to Costa Rica and Santi returned once again to active duty. Nafee however was still away to Vancouver, while Tim was stuck at home with a last-minute influenza virus. Jon left to Quebec for the week-end, and as for Saad he was still incommunicado. We were ready to start the game with 9 players: 7 starters and 2 substitutes.
|1) Absent long-term:||Nafee|
|2) Injured long-term:||Tevin, Güven|
|3) N/A this week:||Jon, Tim, Saad, Saber|
Here was our line-up:
In the first few minutes of the match, both teams studied each other to try and see what pace the opponents were trying to set. On one side, MISN were trying to send the ball forward to Can, who would then allow our other players to come up and provide support. On the other side, Kelly’s Leg were attempting to pressure our strikers as soon as possible, and immediately feed the ball to the wings.
For the first 10 minutes of the match, this tactical showdown turned decisevely to the advantage of our opponents. Our defenders were being a bit lax with their marking and shying away from important tackles, allowing the Kelly’s Leg players a little too much space. On one of these breaks, two Kelly’s leg strikers combined to get a cross in, and our defender marking the receiving player got caught flat-footed. The ensuing headed finish went past Jan into the net, for the first goal of the game. 0-1.
Minutes later, another defensive sleepy-time made us concede the second goal. With Kelly’s Leg stealing possession on the right wing, the ball was sent deep into space for a Kelly’s Leg player on the left. Our defender marking him was left trailing as our opponent got close to Jan’s goal, then slammed a low shot onto the inside part of the right post, and into the net. 0-2. This was turning into a bad day at the office for MISN.
We did not give up however, our morale was bruised but not destroyed. We multiplied our efforts in the final third, and systematically started to pressure the Kelly’s Leg defenders. This forced them to make mistakes, and lose the ball close to the goal. It paid dividends.
Obtaining the ball on the left, Alex and Can exchanged passes to send our Greek defender deep, who then put a low ball to the left corner of the box. Can was there to apply the instep finish, the ball was deflected on the way and entered the net. 1-2!
Our energy rush had given us momentum back. A few moments later, we brought the game back to equilibrium. Some great work on the right wing by Can allowed our Turkish striker to clear a defender, go deep towards the goal-line and send a perfect assist towards the center for Bardia, who then simply had to apply the tap-in finish. 2-2, and game tied once again!!
Now we were really showing our best stuff. With the leaks in our defense patched (thanks to the great work of Kevin and Eric above all), we could maneuver with more freedom. Santi hit the crossbar after a good collective move, and Marco and Can were creating a lot of space with their diagonal runs, which allowed our defenders to push up and go for the shot (Alex above all, but his accuracy left a little to be desired today).
Shortly before the break however, we finally went ahead for the first time!! Obtaining the ball on the right wing, Bardia moved it back to the center towards Can, who then backheeled for Bruno catching the Kelly’s Leg defenders by surprise! Our French-Mexican defender was thus left with acres of space on the left wing, and had all the time needed to adjust his shot to the far end of the goal. 3-2 MISN!
We had thus turned the game around, and finished the 1st with a one-goal advantage. A great reaction from the entire team, highlighted by determination and high bursts of energy. In the 2nd half, we were going to continue the good work we had started in the first: attentive defending, direct passing, wing overlaps, and more scoring chances.
It didn’t take long. From a kick-in on the right-wing, Alex sent in an inswinging cross towards the far post, which Marco only missed by a hairbreadth. It was a perfect set-up for a diving header with the keeper nowhere near the ball. Minutes later, Marco was once again at the heart of the action when he grabbed a loose ball in midfield, waited for Santi to go deep and chipped a ball over the Kelly’s Leg defense. Our Argentine winger was set up clear on goal, but instead of going for power attempted a delicate chipped shot on the half-volley, which was high and wide. A very good chance went begging.
Eventually however, our efforts were going to be rewarded. Slightly towards the right, some good passes brought our strikers very close to the box. Exchanging passes with Santi, Can received the return flick from our Argentine player deep towards the goal line, and was left with an unmissable chance from close-range. His low shot entered the net on the far post, and it was 4-2 for MISN!!
We now had a two-goal cushion, and could play a lot more relaxed. Relaxed did not mean lazy however, and our defensive efforts continued to be right at the top level, keeping our opponents at bay. Kelly’s Leg were pushing more, but they were tired and multiplying their mistakes (especially in defense). This allowed us to get two more goals on the scoreboard: the first one through Santi, as he received the ball with his back to the goal, managed to turn around, dribble the keeper and finish into the emtpy net. The second, when a good push forward by Kevin sent Bardia in the clear on the left, who then put the ball across back for Kevin and our center-back got his first goal of the season! 5-2 and 6-2 MISN for the final score!!
6-2 final score
Guys, pay particular attention to the following because I mean every word of it: today, we have played our best MISN match in months! In 40 minutes, we showed all the features that has made this team great over the years: focus, determination, team spirit. We went two goals down, but we did not give up, we rallied together, we fought back, and we overtook our opponents in a brilliant display of offensive football and attentive defense.
This is the way to go guys. Except for the two early goals in the first half, our performance today was almost spotless. To prove it, Jan didn’t have to make any significant save from the 0-2 goal onwards! If we play like this in the playoffs, we have every chance of taking away the CUP. Let’s keep this up!
Posted in MISN Impossible |