On matchday 4 the Kiwis travelled to the familiar Abbey Recreational Ground strong in numbers but thoroughly confused thanks to the weeks beer theme. The sun was shining, the grass was long and the rainy night before set the scene for what would be a physical battle against the Irish. Hoping to get revenge for last season (and the ABs poor performances) the changing room was boosted by the gaffer (Fin) lacing up his boots and leading by example.
It was clear to see when we got out on the pitch that the grass was longer than some of the lads’ hair after a European summer abroad, living out of their backpacks. The message was to hit the ball harder than Wade went while “sailing” in Turkey. Another strong warm-up had us feeling like prime Barcelona with a strong starting line-up to back it.
The ref showed up apologetic for last weeks antics on the bench while playing for AFC South London. We weren’t sure whether this was a good, or bad sign of things to come.
The game started with a quick pace. Both teams looking to get the ball wide and high early as it became apparent that the middle of the park left a lot to be desired. More bobbles than Conor has made dodgy challenges. Irish got off to a quick start, finding the luck that they’re well known for. Every second ball in the box seemed to fall to their feet but luckily, we had the brick wall Seb at the back throwing himself about blocking all they could muster. Xavi made a fantastic goal line clearance that even the legend Robbie Hunter would’ve been proud of. While Ben worked his socks off, Liam (fantastic touch) and brad were finding themselves in some dangerous positions. This worried the Irish and they began to chirp like the seagulls Seb said they were.
Danny Ings made sure to make his mark on the match by calling an offside which no doubt was only made to get inside the Irish lads heads. They all kicked off but he stood his ground and launch a verbal, personal assault on a number of their players. A few shots from distance and a couple of strong crosses from the Kiwi lads was as much as we could muster going into half time. Signs of battle were obvious as some of the boys were sore and tired. Gaffer made some changes and rejigged the side (so that he could play where he wanted) and hydrated, we went out again for the last 45.
With Rodney playing a more central role we began to play a bit more football in the middle of the park. Strong challenges coming from all ends of the park and the friendly pitter patter began from all players. Angus (the 4th but nicest Milne) was played through on multiple occasions but wasn’t left which much angle of the goal to aim for. Wingers and wing backs were working their socks off against tough opposition. The Irish started to play strongly down the wings and offered up a strong challenge from the resulting corners. Some strong defensive challenges and unbelievable goal line scrambles by our lot and super keeper Kieran put up a valiant effort but were sadly undone on their 7th corner. 1-0 Irish.
Kiwi FC heads didn’t go down as they looked to push on and get an equaliser but that enthusiasm may have been slightly misplaced a Kiwi player collided with the opposition in our box and gave away a penalty. From the lineo position, I could feel an awe of confidence in the Kiwi squad. While the Irish fellah looked shaky and unconfident, Kieran, had the confidence of a boy racer idling down a quiet residential street. Penalty Saved! Boosted by this the kiwis laid barrage on the Irish goal pushing for the equaliser. We lost captain Wade to an ankle injury with 20 left to play which was a blow. Switched to 3 at the back with 10 left (to Xavi’s disgust) and pushed on. Lots of fantastic football was played by us and we got into some positions which made the Irish gaffer lose his cool, but it wasn’t meant to be on the day.
1-0 Irish was how it ended. Few people rightly dejected but there were lots of positives to take from the game. Good turnout for the post-match debrief and antics where the introduction of a new Goodwin game left mixed emotions. Foxy boy named MOTM for his outstanding performance in goal. Put his body on the line with some big saves and big kicks.
WE GO AGAIN next week as we aim to go on a belting cup run! VIVA LA KIWI FC