Players:

Anton Polishchuk
Michael Ripley Kenny Haig Richard James Graeme Chisholm
Stuart Ansell Gerry Keaty Bart Burgmans Mark Matthews
Sergey Zhmako Darren Mellis

Substitutes:

Scored goals:

  1. Sergey Zhmako

Report

A scorching hot day saw Partisan stray too close to the sun as they had their wings melted by a fitter side of touring RAF officers. It has to be said that the 4-1 scoreline mildy flattered the visitors, their goals including a penalty and a wonder goal/fluke from the left wing. The result won't show ultimately that Partisan played their best football of the year and totally dominated the opening half. With the absence of the defensive stalwarts Appel (away) and Clarke (torn ankle ligaments) always likely to pose problems, freshly reinstated manager Keaty pushed James and Haig back into the centre of defence with Chisholm and new defensive wunderkind Mike Ripley at full backs. Keaty and Burgmans resumed their midfield partnership and Sergey "no nickname yet but suggestions on apostcard" Zhmako was "rewarded" for his excellent performance against DHL with a strike partner in the shape of Darren Mellis. Banjo Matthews returned for his first match in ages with Sylvain Chalieux and Dan Finlay on the bench. And how Partisan played! From the off they knocked the ball about with gay abandon. Passes to feet, one-twos and intelligent through balls into the channels. The Icarus boys must have thought Gerry's persistent 'dumbing-down' was a ruse. Zhmako ran hard, Mellis held the ball up immaculately and Keaty and Burgman's distribution was impressive from midfield. We looked like a proper football side. Mellis slammed an early header against the upright and all looked rosy. Then Icarus attacked. A long ball saw their pacy striker outpace James and Haig to fire home from just inside the box. Oh dear! Would the lack of pace in defence be a big problem? Apparently not. A long freekick was flicked on well by Mellis and Zhmako bolted clear to finish neatly from a tight angle to equalise almost immediately. The game stepped up a notch and Partisan were ready for it. Mellis' very presence unsettling the Icarus rearguard as he harried, headed and hustled excellently. Two more great opportunities came the way of the big antipodean but his heading was just off target. Matthews jinked and shimmied down the flank, James had a freekick tipped round the post. Tackles came in thick and fast with Burgmans bringing their playmaker to a halt with a typically robust challenge much to his chagrin. However, a mistake from the defence let Icarus through and another one on one with Polishchuk was dispatched as the flyers took a 2-1 lead into halftime. The sun sone harder and the temperature rose as the second half kicked off. With the standard spate of subs the boys in blue lost their way somewhat and contrived to return to some patchy long ball play. Midfield was bypassed as Finlay took time to find his feet after replacing Keaty. Defence was all at sea with Haig and James' insistance on backline football backfired, on a number of occasions the opposition were presented with the ball in good opportunities, only to waste them. The Icarus 3rd goal came soon enough. Their pacy striker picked the ball up from deep, ghosted past a static James and beat Haig. Professional as anything, the bearded Scotsman tripped him when clean through for a penalty. 3-1 Icarus. As Partisan wilted in the heat a fourth duly came, a cross from the left full back eluded everyone to nestle in the top corner. Further changes and chances came but ultimately the game petered out. A game of two halves, excellent to start, faded in the closing stretches. Performances to remember from Mellis and Zhmako. Temper watch : with no Appel present, Keaty won this one leading to their manager encroaching the pitch to have words. I bet he panicked when Matthews started gobbing off at him.