The second game of the season for Magical Vegas FC was supposed to be when Vegas showed the Premier League just how good they can be. Unfortunately, a depleated squad and some very contentious refereeing turned the favour in Cricklewood U21's way.
When Vegas' best player on the night was debutant Erol Resat, it shows how the players that romped to the Division 1 title last season did not play to their potential and suffered with a lack of confidence when going behind to decent opposition.
Initially, it was Resat who climbed high and expertly headed a spinning ball, delivered by Paul 'Trigz' Reid into the top corner just 10 minutes into the game that put Vegas 1-0 up. Moments later right back Harry Pedersen, who had made a surging run from defense, turned a superb opportunity wide of the post from relativley close to the goal. Cricklewood woke up a little and started targetting CB Patrick Moore Jones, making his first start since April in a position he has only played once in his career, they had instant success as Moore Jones was unable to clear the ball as it looped over his head and into the path of the cricklewood striker to smash home from 8 yards. Vegas where not playing wth their usual fluency and suddenly gaps started appearing, when a Cricklwood attacker found a pocket of space 25 yards out, his shot that swearved in the air was saved by stand in goalie Ozzy only to spin off him and trickle slowly in off the post with the Veags defence slow to react.
Vegas had a couple of opportunities to draw level with good efforts by Resat and Luke Morgan to no avail. Vegas' luck changed after half time, for the worse, a high press was applied by the Vegas boys and they consistantly won the ball back off a struggling Cricklewood midfield. Jacob Bond found himself in the box amounst a group of players and when his goal bound shot was blocked by a Crickelwood defender sliding in, the most obvious of handball decisions SHOULD HAVE been given. The referee waved the claims away claiming it could have been his chest when his arms were clearly above the head. Crickelwood promptly ran down the other end - as Vegas remonstrated with the ref - and scored on the counter to make it 1-3.
Vegas didnt give up. A good through ball from the left released Resat on goal who was fouled in the box for a blatant penalty, Trigz had his penalty saved but follwed it up to make it 2-3. A huge decision then went aginst Vegas (again) as Cricklewood left winger lunged in on Moore Jones over the ball with his studs into the side of his knee in what can only be described as a horror tackle. Somehow, after deliberation the ref and his assistant decided only to give a caution to the winger in what would be a game changing decision - he had a hand in all 3 of the reamining goals cricklewood scored. Crickelwood started to find holes in the tiring Vegas squad and caught them on the break, again, to make it 2-4 after a defensive mistake allowed a tap in from 5 yards out. Steven Bruce was brought on, still recovering from an ankle injury but as we only had 1 sub there was no option, he promply scored expertly after a good through ball from Pedersen. Only for moments later a poor defensive shape allowed Crickelwood to overrun the defense and smash home another goal on 80minutes which deflated the Vegas team to make it 3-5. With the Vegas boys confidence and energy sapped, Crickelwood scored 2 more in the final 5 minutes to make what should have been a close game look embarassing. Although the Vegas players can point to a few events that could have changed the coarse of the game significantly.
They must improve their determination and work rate when things are not going their way, keep head up and fight until the end. That feeling of losing like this should be a motivator!