A battle commenced last night between two of the powerhouse teams at the Islington Midweek Football League when Islington 49r's, boasting a 100% record in the league so far, came up against a determind and talented Magical Vegas FC. Vegas got off to a flying start when Hussein Hussein rose highest to powerfully head home from a Mikes Appiah corner after just 8 minutes.
Setting up with new signing Aaron Pedro and Matt Loughney as 2 defensive midfielders, Vegas constantly won duels in the midfield disposing the oppposition and setting up attacks down the wings. However, after scoring Vegas sat back when they should have pressed home their momentum and allowed a sloppy equaliser when a 49r's player was able to bring the ball down in the box, turn and shoot at goal - it was saved only for another teamate to slam home the rebound.
Despite this the home side still troubled the 49r's defense with Appiah particularly threatening as he gave the opposition full-back a severe examination of his defensive abilities. However, Vegas switched off at a corner within 10 minutes of the equaliser, which has happened far too many times this season. The corner taker was able to recieve a return pass and bend a perfect shot into the top corner to take a lead that they didnt deserve.
Vegas looked shell shocked and soon after, key man Loughney went down injured after a hefty tackle - in which there where many - to be replaced by the on form Steven Bruce. Moments later Bruce suffered the same fate with a big tackle following through and catching the same ankle he had hurt earlier in the season. Despite trying to play on he was replaced by Kaleb King up front. This meant a reshuffle with Paul 'Trigz' Reid and Erol Resat sitting into the middle three - not ideal with 3 other central midfielders out injured or unavailable.
Chances came for Vegas before half time but finishing them, which has been a problem at times this season, had not been taken. Nevertheless, at half time they came in feeling like they had been the better team and went out with renewed optimism. However, they were not able to regain the momentum they had enjoyed in the first half as the game became more and more of a battle between the players and ref, rather than focusing on the game. Vegas where punished when after clearing a corner they pushed out too quickly leaving 3 opponents unmarked at the far post and when one of them was found with a deep cross, he nodded in to make it 3-1.
Clearly disheartened Vegas began playing longer balls and became more desperate, easily losing aerial battles and then possession. 49r's scored a fourth when what looked like a foul on Hussein was not blown up by the referee - and a subsequent tap in for a 49r's player was allowed to stand, that ended Vegas hopes of securing points from this game. There was still time for frustration to boil over as Vegas lost their heads and dicipline as they got sucked into a mental game by their opponents. They need to be more aware of the mind games that will take place the next times these side meet in the League later this season.
Vegas players and managment have time to re-group, re-assess and return for their next league fixture in 3 weeks with a fresh oulook and a determind mindset ready to win some games of football. However, they must stay focused in order to do so.