Players:

Anton Polishchuk
Gerry Keaty Chris Johnson Dennis Appel Scott Clifford
Dan Finlay Felipe Martinez Marc Lehmann Bart Burgmans
Mikhail Loubov Martin Shields

Substitutes:

Scored goals:

Report

This was the return leg of a double header with Bankovni Balet. The away game earlier in the autumn was a humiliating 7-1 beating. We played with spirit but without pace or cleverness. Since then however a few new boys have cemented their place in the squad and make us a better proposition - lads like our Martin "Peter Crouch" Shields gives us loads more options in midfield or forward and Chris "move up" Johnson mean we are bloody organised at the back, whether we like it or not. The lineout was little changed from the last game, except Loubov was brought in (despite not attending practice for the last 2 months) simply because we need his sort of class against these boys. Lets just call it "the gaffer's wildcard", OK? He partnered Shields in a deadly looking combination. More skill and pace there than a eh, .... a craftstman driving a Porsche. Keaty moved to right back to accomodate Appel in the centre and Burgmans went on the left of midfield to allow Lehmann a midfield holding role with Felipe Martinez. Jaime Martinez made the subs bench despite a hattrick in his last game. Part of the gaffer's devilishly cunning plan to keep everyone on their toes!? The game was well fought, with both teams getting lots of possession. The difference being that Shields and Loubov were creating lots of trouble up front, whereas all the Balet opportunities were coming from their midfielders. Shields was running at the oppsoition at every oppostunity, and Loubov making clever runs. F Martinez was having a difficult time, sacraficing his own game to shadow the dangerous number 8. Everywhere else it was tight, apart from Finlay who had quite a few runs up the right. The best chance came to Shields in the first half, going round the keeper but firing into the side net. They were trying to go through the middle or down the right, but Clifford was having a stormer at left back, making up for his lack of fitness with some well timed tackles. In the end they were forced to take pops from outside the box to no avail. As always there was an unforced scare, when "Tonda" Polishchuk let a high ball drop from his hands, onto the knee of a forward. We all watched the ball dribble slowly inches outside the post. Half time 0-0. Half time talk from Johnson emphasised that we only needed to keep our shape and we wouldn't lose the game. He was dead right - follow one or two of their dangerous midfieldders and defence to keep a tight line. That was all going smoothly to plan. Unfortunately their goalie, Jiri Svarc was having a man of the match performance, saving everything that came to him. The Partisan mojo just wasn't working for Shields today. However, just as Johnson warned they struck as soon as we lost our shape. Danger man no. 8 ran from midfield unaccompanied by a Partisan player. Skipped one Appel tackle. At that moment Johnson played offside. But Keaty daydreaming about who to bring off for Haig, played him on, and couldnt get near him for the tackle. He rounded Anton to score superbly. 0-1. Keaty took himself off. Despite more chances, corners and a free kick for a shove on Shields in the box, instead of a penalty (Referee watch: Mr Nos didn't have his best game), we were never going to score. fair play to Balet - football is all about getting the vital goal, and they did it without some of their best players from the last game. However their "typical Czech " play of screaming, dropping like their granny's home made potato dumplings whenever someone breathed in their vicinity is a bit difficult to play against. And I would say we have got to develop our own way to get over this, because we're spending more time making fun of them and arguing with the ref than concentrating on our own game.