Radek Simunek
Doron Raviv Keyur Patel Phil Alexander Dammy Olubokun
Dan Finlay Bart Burgmans Chris Johnson Sam Ross
Vitaly Klopot Jerry Lillard


Scored goals:

  1. Jerry Lillard
  2. Vitaly Klopot


Pitch availability issues meant a late kick-off under just about adequate floodlights. The return of old adversaries JTP Group who we hadn't played in a year. We beat them three times in 2007 but they always gave us a decent match and this time was no exception. The squad saw many of last week's missing regulars back in action: Alexander and Patel at centre-back, Child at right back; and Johnson and Burgmans in the middle. With Guri still absent, Klopot and Lillard were paired up front, which raised a few eyebrows, Lillard's included. However, as I said before the match - these guys have got goals in them, at least one of them's on a hattrick - and I was spot on. On to the match. Partisan started strongly pushing JTP back into their half and getting balls into and around the box, winning a few corners, but without threatening that much. JTP had three really good players - their keeper, one centre back, and a striker who we'll call Tracksuit. A lot of goal kicks and long balls were heading in his direction; Partisan quickly identified the threat and Patel took the job of keeping him in check, Alexander dealing with everything else through the middle. We were getting a lot of play up the wings, from my own perspective a lot of interplay and overlapping with Finlay up the right was creating chances, and with Johnson and Klopot also making a lot of runs into space, there was always somewhere to send the ball. The opener, when it came, came from the other side of the pitch however. Lillard had had a fairly quiet game up until then, until Johnson put a perfect ball through the middle, Lillard ran on to it and, having seen the JTP keeper save a few one-on-ones, opted to hit it early. With most of the angles covered he rifled across face of goal into the top-right corner. Very well taken. Partisan 1 JTP 0. Mid-half subs saw Bugel on for Finlay, Schuchardt in at centre-mid, with Johnson shifting up front and goalscorer Lillard taking a breather. Unfortunately our lead didn't last that long. JTP had been putting a lot of pressure down the wings, trying to box us in the corners whenever they could, and on one such occasion Olubokun, trying to bring the ball out, underhit a pass in towards the centrebacks. Tracksuit was on it like lightning and before anyone could get across to recover, he rifled a shot across goal into the left corner. As good a finish as Lillard's, it left Simunek no chance. The rest of the half was back and forth, neither side really getting an edge. Johnson beat two men down the right and cut in but saw his shot saved, Bugel made some great runs to latch onto long balls, and Ross also had a good effort gathered by the JTP keeper. Burgmans opted to minimise Tracksuit's threat and a trademark crunching tackle saw the latter sub himself off for the rest of the half to recover. JTP won a few free kicks and hit the post; Klopot uncharacteristically hit a cross from Johnson over the bar from about six yards with an open goal ahead of him. Redemption was to come in the second half. Half Time: Partisan 1 - 1 JTP Group In the second half Lillard came back on for Klopot; Finlay came back on on the right wing, Bugel switching to left and Ross taking a breather. Child, Finlay and Johnson again were making space down the right side and Finlay had a snap-shot smothered by the keeper. Lillard made a good run down the left but with Johnson free in the box he opted to hit it wide instead; and Schuchardt saw a first-time shot on the turn come off the crossbar. JTP were still a threat and was three of their players converging on a loose ball in the box, Child was first to it, clearing and crashing over Simunek in the process. Fortunately the impact was less damaging than Olubokun the previous week. Last round of subs saw Johnson off and Klopot back up front, while Child was replaced by Ross. The came the killer Klopot show. It started with Lillard taking a pass from the midfield and hitting a shot at the keeper, who parried it; Lillard headed on the rebound, and with Klopot ducking to avoid it and almost on the goalline, it bounced off his back and in. Fortunately one of the JTP players was on the goalline or it would have been offside. Lillard was involved in the next as well, stealing the ball from a JTP defender and feeding it out to Finlay on the right, who crossed nicely to Klopot for an assured finish from about 8 yards out. Finlay was the supplier again in the dying minutes, finding Klopot with a pass to the edge of the box, who rounded off his hattrick with a well placed shot just inside the right side post. Overall a decent game and hard-earned win for Partisan. Despite the scoreline JTP pushed us most of the way, and perhaps only tired legs saw them overrun in the last 10 minutes. I have to give credit throughout our team: the back four - especially Patel - who worked tirelessly to repel JTP's attacks; the centre-mids got stuck into every tackle, Burgmans putting in yet another blinding performance; and the wingers and forwards never stopped running, so we always had outlets and channels to put the opposition under pressure.