Magical Vegas FC inflicted a first defeat of the season on reigning champions - Islington Admiral, in a fiercely competitive league match late last Thursday evening. Vegas, beaten 0-8 in the first game of the season against the same opposition, turned up with a perfect attitude and willingness to work as a team. Their reward was a result in a game few would have give them a chance in prior to kick off.
The side set up with a previously unused 5-3-2 formation with Patrick Moore Jones and Harry Pedersen occupying the fullback roles, either side of Hussein Hussein, Luke Caesar and Shane McNamara. Jacob Bond, Steven Marshall and Luke Morgan had to keep the midfield occupied while Paul 'Trigz' Reid and Perry Price were handed freedom to roam for space on the counter attack.
The game started with Vegas playing compact, unwilling to give space away in their own third. They rarely strayed forward but as the game went on they settled and began making inroads in the Admiral backline. The pace of Price and the work rate of Trigz was keeping the Admiral defenders busy and they soon realised it was not going to be a repeat of the easy game they experienced earlier in the season.
Communication was constant between the Vegas defenders and Caesar, handed a man marking job, stuck to his task diligently and gave barely an ounce of space to his talented opponent.
It was Bond who linked up with Trigz on one of the breaks 20 minutes in, after receiving the ball to feet he skipped past two tackles (as he does so often) and squared a clever little pass inside to the feet of Price who calmly slotted home from 12 yards out. Vegas barely celebrated, knowing this was not a good time to get ahead of themselves.
Only to go 2-0 up ten minutes later; a foul in the Vegas half was taken by Moore Jones. Knowing the wind was causing havoc - and almost scoring from a deep free-kick already in the game, he flung a long ball into the area towards Price. He missed his attempted flick off the long ball which skidded off the surface and into the top corner - luck was on their side it felt.
After half time, Admiral put 'the big man' up front and started with 5 attackers, peppering the Vegas box with crosses and diagonal balls in an attempt to wrestle back a foothold in the game. Vegas were finally undone in the 65th minute when a throw was taken early, a problem that is happening far too often for Vegas, over the head of the defenders for 'the big man' to run onto and he toe-poked a high effort past David Willis to make it 1-2.
Vegas could have easily gone into their shell but they continued, calm and assured. They played some decent football when they weren't dealing with long balls and Hussein even found himself in the opposition area but his effort found the side-netting after a lung-busting 60 yard dash.
With fifteen minutes to go, Admiral had some luck of their own - a cross from deep in on the left channel caught the wind and sailed over the despairing palm of Willis to draw level in a game that was proving a real mental battle for both teams.
However, the mental resilience was with the Vegas boys and Hussein played long for Marshall who flicked into the path of Price - a 'coming together' of defender, attacker and goalie resulted in the ball bouncing kindly for Price. He carefully lobed into an empty net from 20 yards to send the Vegas boys into delirium.
They held on in the final 10 minutes from a barrage of long-balls, dirty tactics and dives in the box to earn a well deserved victory that re-ignites their season after some disappointing losses in the previous two league games.