Players:

Radek Simunek
Sam Ross Garrett Parker Stephan Schuchardt Dammy Olubokun
Doron Raviv Gordon Nelson Bart Burgmans Khyzer Chaudhary
Dave Sheppard Vitaly Klopot

Substitutes:

Scored goals:

  1. Dean DaLanca

Report

After some major navigational issues, 12 of a 13-man Partisan squad found their way to the Slavoj Podoli pitch for our one and only pre-season friendly on a scorching hot Sunday afternoon, six days before the league kick-off. The 13th man, our tardy Brazilian Garcia, for whom a 5pm meet-up was clearly too early in the day, never made it to the meet-up or the match. He serves as a warning to the whole squad ahead of the new season: away games at unknown pitches are going to become a regular occurrence. To add to the discomfort, Partisan's home and away kits were stuck at the printers getting sponsor logos put on them, so we were forced to dig out the old long-sleeved stripey kit. A miscommunication between the gaffer and Klopot also meant that we arrived without shorts, and almost had to endure a re-run of the embarrasing Pants-gate incident (see DHL match report, 16-2-2008), until Podoli kindly provided us with, er, cover. On to the interesting stuff. With summer holidays and the usual injury list, it was all hands on deck for Partisan as we took on Slavoj Podoli C. Their C team, but nevertheless, one tier above us in the Prague league. A slightly unusual formation saw Parker partnering Schuchardt at centre back, Burgmans and Nelson bossing the midfield, and Sheppard playing just behind Klopot up front. Our sole sub was the returning Dean DaLanca, fresh back from Portugal and thrown straight into the mix. His return would prove vital. We kicked off and launched into it with the usual Partisan gusto, pushing Podoli back in their half, feeding balls into the dovetailing Klopot and Sheppard whose interplay created some dangerous moments, and a few clear cut chances. The first fell to left-back Olubokun who charged into the box, but the Podoli keeper did well to pull off a reaction point-blank save. The second fell to Child, who pounced on a loose ball after Klopot had had a shot blocked; mindful of the keeper's heroics minutes earlier he went for power, but hit the shot wide. It wasn't all one way traffic; Podoli were playing classic neat Czech football, lots of triangles, one-touch passing and moving as a unit. One ball in from their right bounced awkwardly for Parker and his despairing lunge couldn't take it out of range of the Podoli striker, leaving the latter in a one-on-one with Simunek. The keeper held his ground and then bravely dived to smother the ball, for which he was rewarded with a stamp on the shoulder; we got a free-kick and survived the scare. Special mention should also go to the referee at this point - midway through the half he blew for a water break - great idea under the circumstances, however half the players kept on playing while the others were on the sidelines. Other than that, he barely blew his whistle at all (except for a few non-existent Partisan challenges that brought some of the opposition crashing to the ground), for fear of interrupting the constant coaching he was giving his home team. First sub came on 22 minutes with DaLanca on for Chaudhary on the left wing. More chances came for Partisan, from Burgmans who punted a 25-yarder wide of the right post, and Ross whose lofted cross-cum-shot bounced off the bar. The right back was having a great game, defending well and getting forward to deliver some telling balls into the Podoli box. Half Time: Partisan 0 - 0 Podoli Half time brought some welcome respite from the heat and with the sun now out of our faces, a refreshed Partisan took to the field for an assault on the Podoli defence that reaped almost instant dividends. Chaudhury was back on the pitch for Child and taking a pass out on the right wing well into the Podoli half, he drove forward and arched a cross towards the back post. The backpedalling Podoli keeper looked to have it covered, but DaLanca had other ideas, timing his run perfectly to crash into the box and head over the line, ending up in the net himself, and emerging with the ball, a grin, and a 1-0 lead. The goal boosted Partisan who continued to press forward, but it also galvanized Podoli, who had brought a few very fast teenagers on that tore around the Partisan box and created a few half-chances. Partisan's defence stood firm though, helped by Burgmans and Nelson tracking back in the midfield, while Simunek was alert to snuff out anything that made it through the back line. Next to take a well-earned breather was Ross, with Child coming back on the wing and Chaudhury dropping to right-back. Partisan's wingers and forwards were stretching the Podoli back line, with clever through balls opening holes in the opposition's defence time and again. The clincher came through a clever 1-2 between Nelson and Sheppard, with the latter slipping a perfectly weighted ball through to Nelson, who held off the attentions of Podoli's centre-back and steered a composed finish past the keeper - first Partisan goal for the scotsman. 2-0 Partisan. Soon afterwards, Partisan had a perfectly good goal chopped off for offside, Nelson picked up a high ball in midfield and knocked a weighted through ball over the Podoli back line, Klopot spun the centre half and raced on to coolly slide the ball beyond the keeper. The goal was, however, chopped off by the Podoli coach/ Referee and the Podoli substitute/ linesman much to the dismay of Klopot. Next chance fell to Child, who received a pass with back to goal and turned the Podoli left back, but his shot from an angle didn't trouble the keeper. Burgmans then took the last sub spell, with Ross coming on into centre-mid; but other than Simunek almost getting bummed by Podoli's giant centre-back, there were no more incidents and the game ended in a hard-fought but deserved 2-0 win for the Partisan. Man of the match votes told the story too - spread across 6 different players, this was a good team performance, a win and a clean sheet against opposition one division above us. Let's hope we can carry that determination into the league season.