Players:

Substitutes:

Scored goals:

  1. Stuart Ansell

Report

With the gaffer, Keaty, out of action, Dennis Appel picked up the reins as Partisan battled to a hard-fought 2-2 draw aganist an organized -- if aging and slow -- DHL Praha. Under cloudy skies on a cool Sunday afternoon, Appel huddled his charges at one end of Maly Stadion, sending them out in what the sit-in "commissario tecnico" described would be a 4-1-4-1. Ripley and Finley were dispatched to man the flanks alongside the hard-tackling defensive duo of Clarke and Appel himself. Enforcing the zone in front of them, in theory at least, was James. Haig and Chisholm were handed the keys to a midfield winged by Ansell and Matthews. Alone up top went Zhmako with Polishchuk in goal. Despite their raggedy numberless T-shirts, DHL proved neater early on. Ripley and Finley did well to shut down the flanks, but DHL's organized persistence nearly paid off in the fifth minute, with a diminutive attacker slipping free of his marker in the box but firing a rebound just wide after a restart. Inspired by a colossal Clarke, Partisan shook off that scare and slowly began to dictate play. Ten minutes in, Zhmako headed straight at the keeper following a nifty cross by the spry Matthews. The pressure continued to build as Ansell -- attacking incessantly on the right (though often leaving his defensive duties in his wake) -- fired wide after a nice ball from Zhmako. Moments later, Ansell proved more accurate. Controlling a flick-on ball from his Minsk team-mate, Ansell somehow managed to slot home to make it 1-0 despite falling down in front of goal.Zhmako nearly found the double moments later, but came up just shy of meeting a nicely floated cross from Ansell. DHL then proceeded to produce a series of dangerous chances that would have been costly had it not been for some hard-nosed, providential tackling from Clarke.In particular, a tough, cynical, professional -- but clean -- tackle by the Scotsman saved a certain goal in the 22nd and sparked cries of injustice (Hey, Ref, where's your eyes!??) from the DHL bench. Clarke went on to stymie the opponents with last-gasp sliding tackles on two occasions over the next five minutes. Finally, in what would prove to be the best build-up of the match, Matthews used a nifty juke to dummy his marker in the 30th. Gliding down the left flank, the diminutive playmaker's pinpoint pass found Zhmako in the area. The Belarusian bomber flicked on to Ansell who cleverly left the ball to Haig, whose well-taken shot went straight into the arms of the desperate keeper.However, as often happens on such occasions, the opposing side marched right back up the pitch to find the equalizer. With Appel busy loudly complaining about being called for a foul in Partisan's right corner, an unmarked DHL player took advantage of the distraction to head home from the resulting free kick, 1-1. The ensuing 10 minutes saw DHL put Partisan on their heels, forcing Ripley in particular to come up big on a couple of occasions defending the right flank. Finally, Partisan re-established ownership in the final five minutes of the half. First, Haig headed wide after a nice cross from Chisholm. Ansell then shot wide after Appel showed some initiative pushing forward. And the half ended with Haig again just missing. The second half started with Donovan replacing Ripley at right back, Child coming on for Ansell and a few other changes, including Mellis up front. But the biggest change was in defence, where strongman Clarke had to bow out through injury. His absence would be felt in the 60th. A goalmouth scramble saw netminder Polishchuk get kicked in the mouth, but the referee was unable to see the infraction. In the melee, a DHL player poked home to make it 2-1, but not without some bitter grumbling from the Partisan faithful. Nonetheless, the rest of the match was mostly all Partisan, save for a dangerous DHL counterattack broken up by Donovan. Fifteen minutes from time, a ball was flicked on from the left to Zhmako. The keeper paired his shot into the air, but Zhmako was quick to blast home the equalizer as the ball came down at the edge of the six-yard box. Partisan went on to create several other chances. Finishing them, however, was another matter.