On Saturday November 17th we played game nº5 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Hellas.
After 4 games, MISN‘s match record in the Winter league had suffered highs and lows. Highs because our first 2 matches had ended with a clean-sheet victory and 6 points obtained, lows because the subsequent 2 games ended in shameful defeats, with logistical problems (lack of subs, being late to the game) against teams we could have handled. In other words, we were on a 2-game losing streak which immediately had to be overturned.
Our opponents for the day were Hellas, a team which in the first 3 games of the season had a clean victory record! 9 points out of 9 against J.S.S. (6-0), Wood Gundy (6-4), and Boca Jrs. (6-2). It wasn’t going to be an easy game…
Attendance-wise, we managed to get most of our players back to full capacity, with a few exceptions. Ludo was still M.I.A in France, Can still in Abitibi, and Danny had a work meeting. However we got Kevin, Eric, Bardia and Santi back to active duty after a week of break, making our roster today quite respectable indeed.
|1) Absent long-term:||Can, Ludo|
|2) Injured long-term:||Tevin, Alex|
|3) N/A this week:||Danny|
Here was our line-up:
Learning from our mistakes the previous week, this time we got to the game early and had plenty of time to warm-up, stretch, and do our pre-match talk. In terms of play, it made a big difference for us today.
Well prepared, both mentally and physically, we immediately took the reins of the match. We started approaching our opponents’ net with confidence, pushing our defensive line up but always keeping nearby Hellas strikers in check. A few minutes into the game, we obtained our first scoring chance: a Nafee cross pass from the left wing was sent forward, and found Güven in a perfect position in front of the net. However, our Turkish striker missed the winning header by a hairsbreadth, wasting the very good early chance. We were playing well nonetheless, making most of the plays and keeping our opponents under pressure.
Eventually, Hellas decided to stick their heads out of their half and dropped by to pay us a visit: after a series of passes across the middle, the ball was fed to one of their strikers who then armed a powerful missile towards goal! Our keeper Jan was forced to make a brilliant instinctive save and managed to keep the ball out of the top pocket. Phew!
Unfortunately despite all the nice play we were producing, that close shave was a forecast for things to come for MISN. With Hellas advancing forward in our zone, passes were exchanged from left to right to a marked (!) striker. Despite our defenders were close-by to challenge, the Hellas player managed to take an outswinging shot from the edge of the box, and send the ball in off the post rolling across the line. 0-1 against the run of play.
No time to let our morale drop though, this was only the beginning. In fact, since we had most of the ball possession, it was just a matter of continuing our efforts and the goal would come eventually. 15 minutes into the half, the ball was sent forward to the right wing, and Marco sombreroed it as it was bouncing to clear the Hellas defender in front of him. The flick turned into a perfect assist for Santi in the middle, who controlled with his thigh, took two steps forward, but couldn’t give enough angle to his power shot to elude the vigilance of the keeper. Close!
Up to this point we hadn’t managed to turn our domination into goals, and unfortunately were immediately punished on the first defensive mistake we made. With Jon pushing up from his defensive position trying to feed the ball to Marco on the right, the pass was intercepted by an Hellas player setting off the counter-attack. Overpowering us in numbers, 3 of the Hellas strikers combined before one of them armed a left-footed effort into the net. Our defense (who was attempting to block the shot) obstructed Jan’s view, which rooted our keeper to the ground. 0-2.
This game was decisively turning into another bad day at work for MISN, it was time to react! We started pushing up more, with one of our center-backs leaving his defensive position to provide the added support in offense. It made a big difference, because we immediately obtained 2 back-to-back chances to reduce our opponents’ lead: first, the ball transitioned from Marco to Santi on the left wing, and then back to Marco as our Argentine winger cleared his defender to go deep and fed the ball across the goal. Unfortunately, our Italian wing-back’s shot in extension was over the bar. Minutes later, on yet another push forward by the MISN players, Nafee spotted Bardia in the center but saw his pass intercepted & deflected to the right for Santi, who in turn left it for Marco for a slamming finish. Marco’s effort was way wide of target but almost turned into an assist for Bardia, had our Iranian playmaker managed to control the ball. Another chance missed.
We were piling on the pressure at the point though, and eventually our efforts were going to be rewarded! From Nafee on the left wing, the ball was passed to Marco in the center, who then toe-pointed to Santi close to the goal-line. Trying to turn around, our Argentine winger got clipped from behind and tumbled to the ground inside the box. P.K.!! Nafee did the honours of transforming the spot shot, and placed an accurate effort low into the bottom left corner. 1-2!!
Minutes later, we made it 2-2! With the momentum on our side, once again Santi was at the heart of the action by obtaining the ball on the left and clearing 2 defenders to go deep, parallel to the goal line. With one last stride our Argentine winger managed to poke the ball to an upcoming Marco in front of goal! Our Italian wing-back’s lunge to try and toe-point the ball to the far post didn’t work, but turned instead into a perfectly flicked assist for Bardia on the 2nd post! Winning tap-in by our Iranian playmaker, and MISN were level!! 2-2!!
We held that scoreline until the break, and were very happy that we managed to come back 2 goals from behind! However, there was plenty more where that came from, and there was no doubt in our minds that we could win this match.
We continued to press forward in the 2nd half, multiplying our close-range chances for the victory. One of our players (can’t remember who) hit the crossbar after a series of passes, and we all put our hands to our head in disbelief, but on the positve side we were playing very well in this fraction of play, continuing to monopolize ball possession. The only problems is that we weren’t taking enough shots on goal, except for Bruno who had a couple of attempts wide or directly at the goalkeeper. Also, we had to carefully watch out for counter-attacks, because Hellas had a tall front target man who was quite good at holding the ball, and making his teammates go up the wings. In that regard, our defenders did a very good job in not leaving any spaces, and when called into action our keeper Jan showed off his excellent reflexes to keep the ball out of the net.
Eventually, with about 5-10 minutes to go, our efforts were rewarded! On yet another dribbling effort of Santi close to the goal line, our Argentine winger managed to create some space on the right wing and slide the ball across for Bardia: his slamming finish below the bar meant 3-2 for MISN!! We held tight until the end, and the ref finally called full time to put MISN back on the winning track!
3-2 final score
A great performance boys, one that showed the true spirit of the team! In true MISN style, we came back from behind to win the game in a display of rage, pride, and technical plays all mixed into one. If there’s one thing this game taught us is that we need to be a little more confident with our abilities: the minute we started really attacking the goal, we equalized and then later obtained the victory in the second half.
Man of the match today: Santi. Our Argentine star had a special event in the morning, because his work company was organizing a fundraiser at McGill: he had to run a 3km dash (15 laps of the McGill Fieldhouse) and then immediately come to the Lachine game right after!! However, Santi was far from being tired from his morning efforts: in fact, his constant movement during the match, as well as his ability in taking on his opponents with one-on-one dribbles created a lot of space for MISN today, and it should come as no surprise to see our Albiceleste winger involved in all 3 goals of the game (he obtained the P.K. for the first, set up the play for the second, made an assist for the third). Al gran Pueblo Argentino, Salud!
Cya next week.
Posted in MISN Impossible |