DBFC 3 – 5 FWD

Venue: Happy Valley Pitch 4 —– 5 September 2015 —— 6:30 pm KO

Squad: Matt Z (Captain), Robbie (Keeper), Kieran McK, Ben, Matt Orr, Pascal, Matt H, Sam, Scotty H, David, Tom H, Rafa, Nana, Sahil, Matt B and Tony H.

Scorers: Matt Z x 2 and Tom H

DBFC preparations for this season were non-existent because of an unavoidable absence from Hong Kong by manager Gazza. There were no preseason friendlies and the recruitment drive was stopped in its tracks. So up stepped David and Robbie to lend a hand and it all seemed to happen in the week before the game (desperation or the fact that Gazza arrived back in HK?). David had been struggling to pull together the bare 11 players for this game and we were a bit light in depth for players (following many names from last season leaving Hong Kong, joining other teams or committing to the FA League teams). Great work by Robbie on the recruitment front (and Tom H) and last minute commitments by players to make the game – we ended up with a big squad —- 16 for the match day.

The buzz around playing on one of the new state of the art pitches at Happy Valley was tempered, up on arrival when we all saw how small the pitch was (9 aside at best) and we were lucky because pitch 3 (next to ours) was literally a 7 aside pitch. Nevertheless, we got focused on the game and Gazza handed over the match day arrangements to Robbie (who stepped in at last minute to be keeper). Captain Matt Z took a 10 minute warm up and then Robbie got players together. After discussing the possible confusion of having 4 Matts (Mathews) playing for us, Robbie moved on to discuss pre-match tactics. DBFC would set up in a 4-4-2 formation and look to play the ball into Halder’s feet up front and work off him unless it proved too tight, in which case we were to work the ball and look to play him in behind.

The match started competitively as both sides pressed, early balls into Halder and Matt Z were laid back and a great through ball by Matt H released Scotty’s well timed run — but Scotty could only manage to poke the ball on target. A dangerous ball over the top by Matt O resulted in Matt Z being hauled down on the edge of the box, with a kick in the face in the face. He stepped up to take the resulting free kick and proceeded to superbly curl the ball into the far post to give DBFC a 1-0 lead.

The game resumed and DBFC’s football was scrappy as they continued with the long ball over the top, which had been a successful tactic for their goal but FWD were starting to threaten, passing the ball around well and playing their fast forwards in behind our defence. A long ball up from FWD went over David’s head and Ben left it for his keeper (normally would be the correct call), unfortunately the new surface, with copious amounts of black rubber chippings, resulted in the ball holding up as it landed and not running through. The FWD winger capitalised on this as he continued his run when our defence had stopped and charged through the back line. Robbie came out to narrow angles / block and the FWD winger’s kick at the ball was sending it wide of goal but his run and jump caught Robbie’s (big) head to see him crash to the deck in style, winning a penalty. No arguments about the penalty but Robbie was booked for his clash and subsequently sent the wrong way (twice as the ref called for the kick to be retaken) by their Brazilian (we guess) forward (Everton Camargo) bringing the score to 1-1.

Not long after the re-start DBFC had a lot more territory, working the ball down their right and winning a throw in high up the pitch. Our Centre Back Ben Roberts ran up to take the throw, enticed by the thought of his long throw into the box on this small pitch. Unfortunately, this left inadequate cover for DBFC defence (despite a mild protest from Robbie, in goal 50 yards away) so when the throw was headed clear by a FWD defender and flicked on to FWD’s CF (Everton) he controlled it and turned to show his electric pace as he dribbled past David, leaving him in his wake and slotting his shot home into the far corner. This brutal counter-attacking goal put FWD 2 -1 up.

DBFC were now struggling to play controlled football (needed on this small pitch where play is closed down so quickly) and were having no joy either over the top or into feet. FWD were taking control by dropping off, getting tight to our forwards and passing the ball quickly and accurately.  FWD’s CF (Everton) was a constant threat and when he received the ball at his feet on the edge of the box with a little space he smashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner before anyone in the DBFC defence had even moved. FWD now 3 – 1 up and their CF (Everton had his hat-trick).

After the restart DBFC still worked hard and pressed. A measured ball up to Matt Z, who had peeled off the full back, was flicked on to Tom Halder to lift the ball wonderfully first-time over the out-coming FWD keeper. Unfortunately the ball was held up on the new rubber surface and bounced slowly towards goal, allowing the FWD keeper to recover and rush back to the goal-line to tip the ball over the bar at the last second.  FWD resumed their control and pushed forward. The FWD left winger found lots of space down DBFC right but was held up and the half finished with FWD leading 3 – 1.

Half time discussion was still positive despite being outplayed. The focus was on keeping possession, switching the ball quickly across the back, if appropriate forward passes were not on and try to stop the FWD centre forward (Everton) turning with the ball by getting tighter to him. Also, all players agreed we had not helped ourselves with a complete lack of communication and that this had to improve. Above all else, the players recognised they had to step up as they believed we could play much better and wanted to have a go at this good FWD team. Come on DBFC!

The second half kicked off and within minutes disaster struck as the ball was intercepted from a stray pass on the right. FWD broke with speed down the DBFC right flank resulting in their winger cutting the ball back in to the DBFC box for it to be tucked home effectively by who else but FWD’s CF (Everton), to give his side a 4 – 1 lead.

Finally, DBFC switched on and with the introduction of Tony Healy at the base of midfield, some composure in DBFC play ensued. DBFC started to play the ball around the back and with shorter more accurate passing, which started to instil confidence and allowed us to open them up and create chances. Rafa and Pascal did well down the right and the ball was played into Matt who controlled the ball in the box before being bundled over and rightfully awarded a penalty that he dispatched easily to bring us back at 2-4 down.

The match had a pattern now as DBFC looked after the ball well, FWD tried to press and looked dangerous on the break. FWD’s centre forward (Everton) continued to be a threat and in one chance bent the ball narrowly over and another effort by him was comfortably gathered by the keeper. More good work down DBFC right saw Pascal get to the by-line and put in a beautiful cross to the back post where Scotty inexplicably managed to head wide with the goal at his mercy. Minutes later Halder picked up the ball wide on the right before beating his man on the inside then another on the outside before cutting in past the covering defender and bending a cross over the FWD keeper for a super individual goal. This got DBFC back in the game at 3-4 down.

FWD reacted by stepping up their game again and on a FWD counter attack their CF (Everton) was released to gallop past David again, only this time he wasn’t getting away and David sensibly hauled him down to pick up a yellow card. Two similar counters saw David and then Rafa shepherd the FWD CF wide and Robbie (keeper) came out to smother them both. FWD had good passing football down their left resulting in a pass being pulled back to near the penalty spot for FWD forward to smash the ball towards the bottom corner but a goal was denied by an excellent save by stand-in keeper Robbie; sprawling dive got his left hand to it and then was up quickly to smother the rebound.

DBFC were looking good and pressing for the equalizer but with time running out FWD got another counter down the right when a couple of DBFC tackles were missed at the half way line. The FWD winger made a cross-cum-shot that Robbie got down to stop but spilled across goal and as the defence scrabbled to get back to cover, Rafa’s attempt to clear the ball, from a yard in front of goal, went into the top-corner of the DBFC goal to give FWD a 5 -3 lead with a minute left on the clock. The final whistle was blown immediately after restart.

No preseason football and several new faces meant that DBFC were a little under-cooked for this game. Despite this, the squad played some decent football and were on top in the second half. Many players performed very well and all players in the squad made a good first game showing against a very good FWD team who have set the standard of football high for this league and this season, to give DBFC a challenge to aim for. New faces to DBFC; Sahil, Matt B, Ben and Matt O all played well. There were 5 substitutes for this game and all contributed effectively with some unfortunately not getting as much game time as was originally planned —- mainly because the game was so tight and difficult and FWD were so good. Hopefully future games will be a little easier to allow DBFC to settle into the new season and get their show on the road. So watch out FWD for our return match.

See the match video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjiOF7C4E6A

Man of the Match — Tom Halder scored a fantastic goal and Matt Z scored a great free-kick and made his penalty look easy (cool Irish). Matt Orr and Matt Hoare also did well and worked extremely hard. All the players from the defence in this match worked very hard as they were up against the fast and skilful FWD forwards. Robbie stepped up to help for this fixture as goal keeper (our other 3 regular faces being unavailable) and performed confidently, making a particular good stop. However, the man of the match goes to Tony Healy, who came on at half time and did the job asked of him in controlling in front of the defence and settling the team down. He was always available to receive a pass and was sensible in possession and his introduction at half time coincided with DBFC’s improved football.

Dick of the Day: Defensively it was a combination of FWD’s CF (Everton) being too good for us on the day and a complete lack of leadership and communication. David Rollinson in his new role as assistant manager failed to sort out taxis and then back in DB he proceeded to make us all wait for him while he got money from the ATM only to tell us on his return that he had to leave. On another day he would have richly deserved this award but it is Scotty that must take it for his inexplicable missed header.

Robbie / Gaz