On Saturday March 15th we played game nº21 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Ericsson.
After a short stop in the red, MISN Impossible were now back in the green with a two-game winning streak under their belts (5-4 vs. Wood Gundy and 6-2 vs. Kelly’s Leg). More importanly, our 6-2 victory last week was (in all honesty) the best soccer produced by our team in a very long time, the kind of display that makes a neutral observer think “Wow, players of that team are really in synch with each other”. A good omen for matches to come, since today we were now two games away from the end of regular season.
Our opponents for the day were Ericsson, a team just above MISN in the Division 2 standings. Our previous encounter this season (back in December) had ended 3-3 after a hard-fought battle, in which Güven scored two and Jonny one. Neither of these players were here today, so it was going to take something different to get the win today. Hopefully something similar to what we had seen in the match vs. Kelly’s Leg last week…
Attendance-wise, we started the week with some early bad news: Santi got a ligament injury last Monday (playing with another team) and will likely have to stay out of action for at least one month. Ouch!
Our run of bad news however continued the day of the game: Eric apparently was in no shape to play soccer this morning (being very obviously hung-over), but fortunately those he was supposed to ride with went by his house and took the shirts left in his care. Also Jon (who confirmed his presence only at the last minute) was not there for car pick-ups, and had turned off his cell phone (making it impossible to get in touch with him). Great. Finally, Saad (who I had spoken to the night before) had assured me he’d come, but was a no-show (guess his friend didn’t lend him the car to come to the game after all).
Bottom line, out of the originally planed 10 players, we were two people short. However, on the front of good news: Nafee made a surprise turn up, freshly arriving from Vancouver (he was away for work). So in the end, we started the game with 9 players, 7 starters and 2 substitutes, pretty much like last week.
|1) Absent long-term:||/|
|2) Injured long-term:||Tevin, Güven, Santi|
|3) N/A this week:||Eric, Jon, Saad, Saber|
Here was our line-up:
The first couple of minutes, the two teams observed each other without trying too hard. Most of our players had just arrived to the field (especially those who had to take the bus), and barely had time to warm up/stretch. In addition, playing on a Saturday morning is never easy, especially for those of us with weird sleeping cycles or who like going out partying on Friday night.
Our ball possession and passing transitions in the first 5-10 minutes were quite good: we were cycling the ball well from one wing to the other, creating space and attempting to go for the shot. The Ericsson defense was however able to block our attempts for the most part, and start off dangerous counter-attacks when our defenders were left with a man-disadvantage. Fortunately, most of these resulted in speculative long-range attempts which were either wide or neutralized by Jan.
Our first big chance came about 10 minutes in, when after a series of rebounds and attempted shots, the ball dropped to Tim right to the penalty spot with no defenders within 4 meters. Instead of going for power our Montreal-born striker chose to place his shot, but it turned into a very weak central attempt that the Ericsson keeper neutralized without any problems. A good chance missed.
Fortunately, a few minutes later we went ahead, after a good run of ball possession. Can obtained the ball on the right wing, and provoked his marker into a one-on-one duel. Beating the Ericsson defender and going towards the goal line, our Turkish striker was then left with only one option: put the ball across goal for someone to tap in. Marco had made a run from his defensive position (taking a defender with him) and I guess the ball took a deflection from the Ericsson player, landing to Tim on the second post for a very easy finish. 1-0 MISN!
That was the goal we needed, in order to alleviate some pressure off our backs: even though we were dominating the play, “un accident est si vite arrivé“. We continued to press forward, especially through Can who was constantly taking the Ericsson defenders one-on-one, and often succeeding in his dribbles. Starting from the right wing, our Turkish striker put in a good fake to create a big space for a left-footed shot, but his effort rattled the crossbar before rebounding back into play and being cleared! Argh, so close!
The half ended on a 1-0 scoreline, with much of the plays to the advantage of MISN. However, we could be creating a lot more scoring chances with our ball possession, and needed to be shooting on net more. With the current scoreline, we were still at risk to be conceding a goal which would tie the game.
In the second half, we resumed our good work from the first, but this time took more chances towards the net. Bardia and Alex had a few good shooting attempts (wide), Ericsson had one huge chance to tie the game (a re-directed header setting up one of their strikers at the penalty mark, ensuing shot over the bar) before the carousel of “OMG” moments started.
First, some good work by Can on the right set up Tim at the penalty spot (once again) for a one-time shot, but our striker’s effort was directly at the keeper, who parried away. Minutes later, the same situation repeated itself (this time Nafee the provider) and with more space Tim could control the ball, before aiming an accurate instep shot towards the left post. The Ericsson keeper however went to full extension to deflect the ball into corner. Moments later, it was Nafee’s turn to try his luck and once again the delivery was dead-on accurate (inside the right post). Once more however, our opponents’ nº1 pulled out a super-save out of his hat and kept his goal safe. Unbelievable!
The good side of things is that we were continuing to shoot on net, so it was only a matter of time before we producing that goal. Meanwhile, the Ericsson strikers were keeping our defense on their toes, danger potentially lurking from anywhere. Fortunately today we had Kevin in state of grace, as our center-back was getting his foot at the right time wherever there was danger.
Eventually, our efforts were rewarded as Can obtained the ball on the left wing, rolled it forward to clear a defender, and then set it up for a left-footed finish. The low shot took a slight deflection off the defender/keeper, but had enough power to end its course into the net. 2-0 MISN! Phew, we needed that!
At this point, we managed to play more relaxed on account of our two-goal cushion. We still allowed a little too many offensive incursions to our opponents, but fortunately they were often making a mess of it (the rest of the time Kevin was there to clear the ball). About 5-7 minutes from the end, we finally increased our lead to 3 goals, as a through ball on the left wing landed to Can, who was somehow able to turn around and tackle it into the net, inside the left post. 3-0 MISN, and game effectively over.
We had one final chance with Bardia, as he obtained a good feed from Nafee on the right wing, but our Iranian playmaker blasted the ball over the bar with the net wide open! Shame…
3-0 final score
Overall, we played this game quite well. We were creative in offense, improving our shooting average as the game progressed, and could have scored a lot more goals had it not been for some excellent saves made by the opposing keeper. Ericsson were ranked above us in the standings, so it’s always nice to beat a stronger (on paper) opponent.
Compared to our last game however (6-2 vs. Kelly’s Leg), we were a lot less attentive in defense I thought. Our man-marking was often way off, and had our opponents been more cynical and capitalized on their scoring chances, it could have caused us a lot of problems (especially while we were only leading 1-0). This I’ve noticed, is a recurring factor in this 2007-08 season unfortunately: our defensive work has simply not been up to par to our usual standards.
We now have one more game left in the regular season: next Saturday we will be playing the nº1 ranked team (and likely Division 2 champions) Spartans!! It will be a very good opportunity to measure the progress we have made so far, and prepare us for the PLAYOFF round. From now on, bring your A-game to every match boys… it’s crunch time!
Posted in MISN Impossible |