Ron Halfacre Challenge Cup
Lokomotiv Londres FC 2 v London Rhinos 5
Loko succumb to Rhinos' attacks
Today’s match started in chaotic fashion with the referee reluctantly allowing the game to kick off 10 minutes late due to our goalkeeper Junior running late. Dave J also struggled to find the pitch and was asking Morris for directions over the mobile whilst both teams were observing two minutes’ silence to commemorate 11th November.
Junior turned up 10 minutes into the game and, regrettably, this meant that Marcel had to be taken off after having started in an unfamiliar position on the left wing. At this point, Loko were getting into their stride and fending off Rhinos’attacks relatively well despite their number 8 causing our defence problems with his dummies and pace and their midfield captain pulling the strings from midfield.
On 14 minutes, their forward outjumped Igor and headed what looked like a sure opener but Junior pulled off an incredible, instinctive save from 2 yards out.
On 19 minutes a corner from the left ended up with Morris trying to defend his goal but handling the ball. The ref immediately blew his whistle and, despite Junior’s gesticulations and attempts to put him off, their captain placed the ball low and hard to our goalie’s left and into the net.
Despite missing five regular players, Loko were holding their own valiantly and the two-division gap was not that obvious with Dave K and Terry in particular threatening the Rhinos’defence. On 32 minutes, Loko were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of their box but Terry’s kick missed the Rhino goal by a couple of yards.
The game was on a knife’s edge with Loko's hopes riding high.
Half time: London Rhinos 1 – Loko 0
The second half started with the same ebb and flow but, despite fighting hard, our midfield was clearly lacking muscle and height and was having difficulties with our opponents’aerial play. Fortunately, the defence was coping well with Chris in particular sweeping up and Stefano (pictured) having one of his best games this season.
However, on 68 minutes a deep ball from midfield was not picked up and their forward outpaced Igor into the box, rounded oncoming Junior and slotted the ball into the empty net.
With the odds against them, the Railwaymen were still up for a scrap though and determined to go all out to reduce the deficit. On 72 minutes, TERRY lashed onto a ball from Alejandro and, finding himself one on one against their keeper who had advanced to the right edge of his box, he calmly lobbed the goalie with the ball rebounding into the empty net. A few more attacks from their fast forwards saw our defence get out of jail on a few occasions including their right winger missing a sitter from 1 yard out when his header flew over the crossbar.
But the turning point came on 79 minutes where Ivan who had run across the box to cover for Stefano handballed instinctively as their left winger’s cross was threatening to add a few more wrinkles to his face. The ref had no hesitation in blowing for a second penalty. With adrenalin kicking in, Junior tried to psych their captain out but, once again, the Rhinos’ number 10 despatched the ball low and hard to Junior’s left and into the net. A fourth goal followed 5 minutes later when Junior pushed a powerful shot away but onto the path of their unmarked forward who clipped the ball into the empty net unchallenged.
On 83 minutes, a ball from the edge of the box was deflected by their central defender onto his own upright into the path of SERIK who scored from 5 yards out. The renewed optimism and glimmer of hope were soon replaced by dejection though when Rhinos put the last nail in the Loko coffin with their number 9 drilling the ball low and hard into our goal from the right edge of our box. Despite a few attempts to restore pride, including a Dave K slalom past four Rhinos players, Loko were now seriously running out of juice with hopes of a ticket into the third round all but dashed.
Final score: Loko 2 – London Rhinos 5
Club Secretary Ivan Rahal said: ”We battled hard but Rhinos have pace, fitness and quality in attack. We gave them as good as we got but fatigue got the better of us today. Let's now focus on the league where we stand an excellent chance this season.’’
Man of the Match: Junior – Stunning reflexes, vocal presence and his usual winning attitude. Well done. Special mention to Chris, Stefano and Terry.
Terry (then Junior 10 mins)
Morris (then Dave J 55 mns)
Marcel (then Terry 10 mins)
72 mins: TERRY lashed onto a ball from Alejandro and, finding himself one on one against their keeper who had advanced to the right edge of his box, he calmly lobbed the goalie with the ball rebounding into the empty net.
83 mins: A ball from the edge of the box was deflected by their central defender onto his own upright into the path of SERIK who scored from 5 yards out.