Giving a 1-0 head start in a premier league match might seem like a crazy idea - but that is exactly what Magical Vegas did in their encounter with Straight Yam (SY) last night.
With 2 mins on the clock and the teams just getting to grips with the conditions, Vegas rushed a clearance after good defending. It fell straight at the feet of an SY attacker in a central position, he duly slid in his strike partner who punished Vegas' mistake from 10 yards.
Mistakes like that should happen once in a blue-moon but Vegas managed to repeat the trick 20 minutes later when trying to play out from the back. Neat football quickly turned into 'overplaying', and when the pressure came the ball was lost 30 yards from goal. Another simple pass released their striker and he went round the keeper and tapped in for 0-2.
Sandwiching those incidents Vegas had created clear cut opportunities of their own, namely from corners. Those efforts had been headed wide but their threat was clear once they had got players into advanced positions.
Pace was causing SY problems; especially wingers Kadeem Gutzmore and Deondre Dewar, with Callum Hosier finding pockets of space in the hole behind Abiola Baloqun. Their foothold in the game came when brilliant work from Dewar on the right, his short pass inside to Hosier was quickly moved out of his feet and then struck with venom from 25 yards into the far left corner to make it 1-2.
1 minute later the duo combined again with Hosier winning the ball in a high press, he released Dewar into the box. He got to the ball first but was cleaned out by a desperate last-ditch tackle to win a penalty for the Vegas boys.
Hosier's effort was not accurate enough this time and the goalie made a smart save down to his right to keep SY in the lead.
Vegas were eager to make amends but their efforts were leaving them exposed at the back. They were picked off on multiple occasions with the two SY strikers staying high and catching Vegas on the break. If more composure had been shown by them they would have come in at half-time with a bigger lead.
Just before half-time, Gutzmore had a fierce effort smash off the bar but the whistle came at a good time for both teams after a breathless first half.
Vegas addressed their problems at half-time, Erol Resat was instructed to sit and hold which gave a better balance while the fullbacks where given license to push on further.
It had an immediate effect. Vegas bossed possession and began to wear down their slower and fatiguing opponents. Striker Baloqun who had not even had an opportunity at goal (due to no fault of his own) was replaced by left-back Alby Miller and Harry Pedersen replaced Shane McNamara to give 'legs' in the full-back positions. Sam Bader moved into defensive midfield pushing Resat into the centre forward roll.
Vegas looked fresher and soon after Gutzmore showed a clean pair of heels, a VERY clean pair of heels, to his right back opponent who dived in (probably because he was so embarrassed) needlessly to give away a second penalty. Gutzmore picked himself up and stroked it into the left corner to finally bring the game level.
There was still 25 minutes left and Vegas knew they were in the ascendancy. Thompson hobbled off after running his socks into the ground and was replaced Patrick Moore Jones.
The Dewar and Hosier combination had been a menace in the side of SY and it again proved powerful in the winning goal. They skilfully played themselves into space down the right with clever movement that gave Moore Jones space inside when Hosier found him. His switch of play to Gutzmore released him into the box where he crossed to Hosier at the back post. His effort bounced off the goalie and landed at the feet of Resat who gleefully fired home to complete a brilliant comeback.
Nothing less than they deserved for their second half performance and a warning sign that they have the work rate and desire to win this league.