DBFC 2 – 1 J-Leaguers
Venue: Po Kong Village Road Park Pitch No. 1 —– 17:30 KO 28 November 2015
Squad: Gianluca, Josh, Matt R, David (captain), Morse, Alessio, Thierry, Zin, Pascal, Matt Z, Yoon, Dirk and Robbie
Scorers: Zin and Matt Z
The free week last Saturday meant Gaz had two weeks to pull a team together, which was just as well because for many players the Clockenflap music and arts festival out trumped the call for football (they don’t make men like they use to — grumbled Gaz). Nevertheless, the trumpet call to DBFC Vets, a couple of timely new signings and Gazza’s powers of persuasion pulled a squad together. So taxis and other transport arrangements were expertly arranged by Gaz (as usual) and all players arrived at the venue with plenty of time for a relaxed preparation and warm-up. The J-leaguers also arrived at the venue early and it was obvious from the size of their squad (17 players) and the intensity of their warm-up routines that they were really up for this match. Also, it was obvious to some of the DBFC longer serving players that J-Leaguers had called in some of their quality players for this game, such as Nakamura-san (Shin). DBFC were a side packed with defensive options for this game and Robbie decided to start with a 433 formation. Gianluca as keeper, David and Matt R as CB, Morse LB, Josh RB, Thierry with Zin to his left and Pascal to his right as the holding midfield, Yoon up front with support from Alessio on the right and matt Z on the left. Dirk and Robbie were subs.
J-Leaguers had KO and immediately from the off they pressed DBFC, attacking down the left for their winger to get to the by-line and put in a decent cross. David done well to stretch and cut out this cross but the ball spooned high and as Gianluca came to collect it on the bounce it freakily spun sharply over his head and into the goalmouth for the J-Leaguer CF to tap-in with his head and put them 1 – 0 up after 45 seconds.
DBFC were momentarily in shock but Gaz and Robbie were shouting from the side-line for the team to calm down, focus and raise our intensity. However, J-leaguers were pumped by their great start and continue to press with accurate long balls over the DBFC defence and quickly closing down when DBFC had possession. DBFC were struggling to gain composure and consequently not playing smart football, highlighted by some simple things like setting up correctly for our own goal kicks; the defence (and midfield) sitting way too deep and so inviting pressure. This pressure resulted in three free-kicks for J-leaguers (in a 10 minute period) just outside the 18 yard box. J-Leaguers had a couple of renowned free-kick takers so three shots on DBFC goal; one well saved by Gianluca, one well over and the other an excellent effort that flicked off the crossbar. DBFC survived and started slowly working in to this game. A good ball over the top by Zin released Yoon to run behind the J-Leaguer defence, get to the ball ahead of the out-coming JL keeper and lift the ball over him but unfortunately the crossbar too. Other good play from Pascal and Alessio down the right hand side was repeatedly stopped by fouls but DBFC couldn’t threaten from the resulting free-kicks. DBFC were gaining in confidence and started to push up higher from there goal box as David and Matt R were winning the aerial battle. However, this left DBFC open to counter-attack and JL long ball over the top was collect by Shin who put in a terrific cross from their left towards the JL CF but great vision by Matt R resulted in him intercepting at full stretch to take the ball clear. Matt Z then picked up the ball just inside their half and released a terrific cross field ball to Alessio who controlled well as he drove in on the JL goal to fire his low shot onto the outside of the near post. In the closing minute of the first half DBFC were given a free-kick at about 23 yards out from the JL goal that Matt Z lined up for one of his trade-mark top corner curlers but this time we watched as it sailed over the bar. DBFC finished the half 1 – 0 down but now well back in this game.
The half-time team talk focused on fixing simple mistakes in our game set-up and execution and generating positivity throughout the team. Robbie emphasised that except for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the half it had been an even game and we had created a number of chances. We needed to look after the ball better, have a better set-up on set-pieces and look to put the pressure back onto JL, which would be helped in the second half by a change in team formation to a more direct 442. Thierry came off for a breather after none stop work chasing and tackling the JL midfield and Robbie came on as LM to make up the 4 across the middle of Pascal and Zin CM and Alessio RM. Matt Z and Yoon up front.
The second half got underway and the first few minutes were competitive but DBFC were now taking control of the game and territory. A dangerous cross in from Zin narrowly avoided being bundled home. The number of J-leaguers fouls was adding up and after Robbie was taken down on the right flank he got up to deliver a dangerous cross that their keeper could only palm upwards for Zin to head home and put DBFC back in the game at 1 -1 after 15 minutes of the second half. Alessio was having a tough time on the right getting continually fouled by the JL defenders and one such foul resulted in another DBFC free-kick that Robbie took and played in an almost identical ball as for the first goal, which found Zin coming in at the back post to put his firm header marginally wide into the side-netting. Defending well as a side now, DBFC were disrupted when Matt R rolled his ankle after being pushed during a clearance. Thierry came back on to replace him at CB with 20 minutes of the game to go. Good play by Matt Z, Zin and Morse found Robbie in the middle and his through ball for Yoon was cut out by a last ditch challenge by the JL defender. Yoon continued to be a threat to JL by running the channels well and was denied two great chances for a goal by the JL keeper coming out quickly. Dirk came on with 15 minutes left at RB for Josh, who had done a terrific job keeping up with the JL pacey CF and wingers. DBFC pressure and persistence finally paid dividends when they took the lead that they deserved. Good work down the right resulted in Alessio making a cross that bounced out to Yoon, his shot was blocked by the JL defender but the rebound rolled out to Matt Z coming in on the penalty spot to smash the ball home with his instep and put DBFC 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go. At this point Zin limped off cluching his knee and Josh stepped back in at the CM role. J-leaguers upped their intensity again in trying to find an equaliser. JL’s Shin hit a ferocious effort from 30 yards that went narrowly wide and during set –up for the resulting JL corner, Morse started up some shenanigans with JL’s Shin that the referee had to intervene. The corner was taken and David rose well to power a header clear. JL mounted one last attacked, which DBFC thwarted, before the referee blew the final whistle giving DBFC a hard fought but well deserved 2-1 win.
Man of the Match – Difficult to convey in words how good a victory this was. Against an incredibly strong J-leaguers side and then going behind 1-0 after 1 minute, DBFC pulled together to fight back and hold on in a real performance of grit and determination. The feel-good factor after the game was palpable. Everyone did their part. Matt R and Josh did well on their debuts; Morse at LB. Alessio was tenacious in a forward role on the right of midfield, while Yoon ran the channels effectively. Matt Z and Zin popped up with two well taken goals. Robbie came on at half time and give some composure in the midfield that all players grew from and then Dirk came on to tighten up the right of defence with his fresh energy and experience. However, MOM this week is David for his performance at the heart of a very hard working defence – after a nervy first five minutes and one outrageous nutmeg he defended very well; winning numerous headers and managing the defence to push out at the right times to set up a strong platform for victory.
Dick of the Day – Not sure one should be handed out after such great performances from all players – Gaz and Robbie didn’t see the JL goal from the side-line so won’t point any fingers in that regard. On leaving the venue David did the campest run after a taxi you are ever likely to see, followed by the excuse “we will never get a taxi here because they are always full” then immediately a shout “THERE’S ONE… Ah shit”. Morse for his handbags with Shin and the linesman and his explanation that he was doing it to waste time (a similar excuse to that earned Matt Barker D of D earlier in the season when “gee-ing” up the team up with a ridiculous from behind tackle). However, as mentioned above – the performance and result was one to savour and so the reporters have decided to shelve this award for this week.
A good number of the team made it over to the Pier Bar for well-deserved celebratory beers. The beer tasted so good that evening.
Reported by Robbie / Gazza