Courageous Reds Left with Mountain to Climb.
Westside 4 v 0 Point
(E&F semi 1st leg) 13/7/15
Well it looks like a bit of a hammering but anyone who was at the game will tell you the patchwork Reds more than matched the cup holders in all aspects of the game, except putting the stupid ball in the net (which is kind of important).
Unfortunate first half goals left the Reds two behind before a couple of very late second half goals by the West put the tie firmly in their command. What the score does not tell is that the Reds, who were missing half a team of regulars, were superb on the night and had three juniors in Wally, Alex and Alfie, who played brilliantly throughout, giving the West defenders all sorts of headaches and combining beautifully. Alas, just as we were looking most likely to get a goal back, a touch of class from Ali Barvas and Dan Macphail put the West back in control. The fourth goal was just rubbing it in!
Prior to kick off Coach Stoodie and I looked at our team and their team and feared the worst. We were without Stu F (ankle), Stu M (calf injury), Elliot (work), DJ Clinton (work),Daniel (apparently in a field somewhere after T in the park), Matthew ( T in the park), Scotty Bomb (injured after heroics in Lochs game), Maca (holiday) as well as long term absentee Andrew Murray (knee). All this meant we had to dig into the Rudhach reserve bank. In came ERA megastar DJ Kai for his first game in 2 years, 15 year old Alfie Macmillan at left wing and newlywed Allan Macmillan, who had come straight from spending a luxurious weekend of shooting and fishing at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle. “Ra ra Save a bit of Venison for me darling, off to play footie with the boys.”
It really was good of Allan and Kai to come along as without we would have been up the Creed with no paddle. Thanks guys.
West meanwhile, seemed to have only Scott Graham missing from their impressive lineup, which included Mojo and Angie Campbell as well as most of their regular team, bar Martainn and Campbell.
The first chance of the game fell to the Reds when Angus found himself with a free header, 8 yards out, from an Alex free kick. Unfortunately for the Reds and the youngster he headed straight at Peter Macaskill in the West goal. What a chance.(2 mins). Coach Stoodie had decided our best chance was to let the West have the ball up to a point before pressing the play. This tactic worked well although it would have been out the window if the West had taken one of their early chances. Mojo was proving illusive, hot off a 4 goal burst v Ness in the quarters, and twice he came close to finding Wrighty’s left hand corner with curling shots. Dan Macphail, coming in from the left, also had a chance but he blazed wide.
The game then settled down and the Reds were looking comfortable for the next 15 minutes, Ali G and Colin Mackay ( Austin Powers) marshalling the defence and Alex and Spike protecting well. Wally and Kai were giving the West defence plenty to think about on the counter, especially as West seemed to be playing a very attacking 4-2-4 formation. On one occassion Kai lost his footing and ploughed straight through the defender and into the goalie. The West grumblies ( and they are grumbly!) roared but the DJ had just slipped as though he was dancing at a foam party in Ibiza. Woooop wooop!
Soon after, the West scored and although the build up was excellent, the manner of the finish was gutting. Mojo and Ali Barvas combined nicely to send Gordy Campbell haring toward the bye line. Gordy’s cross was fired into ‘the corridor of uncertainty’ and Ali G, running towards his own goal trying to intercept, could only deflect the ball past Wrighty and into the net. Nightmare. West 1 v 0 Point (26).
A couple of minutes later and the West made it 2 and again, the goal was an incredibly frustrating one to lose. A long high ball was played over the Reds backline and Innes Iain chased on. Wrighty came out to catch but as he jumped, either he was nudged away from the ball or misjudged the bounce (depending on who you ask). The ball fell to Innes Iain who squared to Mojo and he slid the ball into an empty net. The Reds fans went nuts, claiming a foul, but the whistle remained silent and the West had a 2 goal lead (29).
We had to be careful now as the West smelled blood and piled forward. Dan Macphail was next to threaten when his header cannoned off the bar, but on the whole the Rudhachs defence were still doing well, with young Angus continuing to excel against Ali Barvas, and Allan continuing to stalk Dan on the left.
Towards the end of the half a low cross from the West left found Duncan Maclean inside the box, but the West full back’s right foot shot was saved by Wrighty. Meanwhile at the end of the half Allan got forward from right back and had a long shot which was a good strike but wide of the mark. DJ Kai alone screamed corner. The ref or his assistant must want a free pass for ERA as we were behind the shot and it went nowhere near a defender! Corner given. Unfortunately it came to nothing and we were soon trooping into the changing rooms.
Despite trailing the lads were very upbeat, we had lost 2 crappy goals and despite these, the tactics seemed to be working. Coach Stoodie asked everyone to be brave on the ball, keep the shape and there was a good chance one of our forwards could nick a goal or 2. Remember there’s a second leg! We checked up on any ailments and sent the troops back over the top.
Scotty Bomb got me a cup of tea, which was very nice of him and tasted good, but not as good as the last one I got in Barvas, though that was in my top 5 of all time. I’m nothing if not controversial! I also bumped into Jim O Donnell, who was guarding his cuppa carefully following the Wally volley incident from the Lochs match in Point.
Well the Reds started the half on the front foot and Alfie was coming more into the game, combining well with Kai and Wally down the left. Alex was also beginning to find more room, running off the back of Angie and Colin George, who were patrolling the West midfield. Don’t get me wrong, the West probably had the majority of the play still but the Rudhachs were coming more and more into it. But then Westside’s maverick Ali Barvas, is always likely to do something special, and after 60 minutes his shot clipped the crossbar on its way over. I think he has done that very shot in most games against Point this year, hopefuly they keep hitting the crossbar. Wally was the next to try his luck but his shot flew wide after good build up play by Alex.
After 63 mins Kai got away from his marker down the right. As he went to cross with his right, his left foot touched the ball accidentally and Kai missed the ball completely with his right. The whole stadium stopped to laugh. Players, subs, managers, Tech mobile (!), Point grumblies and West grumblies were united in their laughter and even the tea lady stopped to laugh. Unlucky Kai!
A couple of minutes later and Alfie, who was having a storming game, had a chance on his left foot but Peter saved his cross shot with Kevin Flower ready to pounce. Alfie, a Ryan Giggs style winger with great balance and skill, was running at players and going by them at will, Alex (another lefty), was doing the same from the centre of the pitch whilst Jonny Wallace was being twisted left and right by Wally, resulting in a booking for the big centre half. For all that though, the final pass, shot, cross wasn’t quite there and it was annoying to see such refreshing play not yielding goals, or more clearcut chances.
After 65 mins DJ Kai was replaced by 14 year old Domhnall Alec Morrison, who showed great touch and composure for the rest of the game. I didn’t write too many notes as I was caught up watching the Reds, with their four forwards’ ages totalling around 62 years ,take it to the West and play some excellent stuff. After 75 mins Alfie waltzed through two tackles before slipping the ball through to Alex, who was only halted by a superb sliding tackle by Duncan Maclean, covering from left back. Wally then fizzed a shot wide as the Reds pushed for a goal. A couple of free kick just outside the box were also squandered as well as Ali G hitting one from 45 yards which was a bit of a wide. FORE!
West then had a good chance when Wrighty had a rush of blood to the head and sprinted out of his box trying to intercept a pass he would never reach. What the? Where the? What’s he doing? Luckily Mojo got freaked out and volleyed wide. Wrighty claims it was always under control…..
As so often happens in sport, you must score when on top as the opposition will come back at you. And so it was after 80 mins, Ali Barvas collected the ball on the right and pinged a fantastic cross to the back post. Allan had tucked in a touch too much ( like at the Amhuinnsuidhe banquet) and Dan was there behind him to head back across Wrighty and into the corner. Suckerpunch! Noooo. West 3 v 0 Point. (80 mins).
The Reds kept pushing right to the end and Wally was showing some amazing skills. At one point it seemed half the West team were chasing him round the box. Unfortunately he couldnt get a shot away and it must be said that West’s defence did well covering for eachother.
West had made a couple of subs and one of them, Conner Mackay, is superfast. After 92 mins the Reds lost the ball and it was played out to Conner who ran really fast with the ball! He then fired in a cracking cross and Ali Barvas was there at the back post to head low into the corner. Come off it man! West 4 v 0 Point. Full time
Point man of match: Alfie Macmillan- Showed great skill, pace, bravery and game awareness for one so young. Well played.
Moment of match:
1. Kai’s ‘no look pass’.
2. Peter Macaskill in goals for West grunts when taking bye kicks. Neenie started calling him Sharapova and soon the whole Red Army were all grunting back at a bemused Peter! Every time he took a bye kick….
Moan of match: The scoreline was very harsh on the Reds, who despite lacking players put in a very courageous performance. That’s football.
Conclusion: The Reds have a mountain to climb. A four goal deficit has, however, been done before and remember, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing arrived in Nepal in 1953 they had a mountain to climb, and you know what….?
COME ON THE REDS!!