Sunday 4th March 2012
UNDERSTRENGTH LOKO LOSE BATTLE OF THE MIDFIELD
Loko turned up early on a wet Sunday morning unlike the opposition who, as usual, were late - hence the referee’s decision to play 35 minutes each way. In Chris and Steve’s absence, new captain Terry took the warm up and was keen to make his mark in his first game in charge.
In the first few minutes Loko were overrun in midfield by Kensington Athletic, who’d been thrashed by Loko twice last Autumn but who were now showing signs of improvement. Their domination paid off after only 7 minutes when an attack on the left hand side of our defence saw their forward take his chance and score with a venomous strike from the edge of the box.
Loko 0, Kensington Athletic 1
Kensington’s attacks were causing panic in the defence but Ivan and new boy Matt were holding it tight, whilst Marcel was being much more vocal than usual, asking for help when forwards doubled up on him and Kevin was doing a good job of marking their left winger.
On 16 minutes Terry, who’d taken on two players in the middle of the park, was tackled very hard and the foul could have resulted in a red card but the offence went unpunished, whilst Terry came out hobbling and had to be substituted by Luke. This was a bad omen for Loko as Terry has been a prolific scorer this season and a total team player, being happy to play out of position to help the team out.
Fortunately, 10 minutes later, Kevin, who had ventured past the midfield back into his natural attacking habitat, laid the ball onto Alejandro who zipped the ball across the pitch and past the defence onto JAMES (pictured), who outsprinted his marker and shot low and hard past their keeper and into the net.
Loko 1, Kensington Athletic 1
With their tails up, Loko were now showing signs of dominance in midfield with Dave F and Luke playing more defensively and combining well with Imants and James up front in particular.
However, on 31 minutes, with the midfield out of position, Ivan tried to block a pass near the half way line but it went astray on the muddy pitch and their tiny number 5 picked up the ball, dribbled past two defenders a la Messi and found himself one on one against Ismail whom he crucified from 5 yards out.
Half time: Loko 1, Kensington Athletic 2
Terry made two more substitutions at half time, including Frenchman Gilles and Latvian Max. The game was now flowing in both directions with Imants tearing their defence apart down the left hand side and Kevin and Dave F now interacting more often and launching crosses in the box but Loko’s lack of aerial power in the box meant that nothing came out of it.
On 51 minutes, seeing that there was more and more space on the right hand side of the Loko defence, their winger dribbled past Max and took a pot from twenty yards out and his shot went under Ismail’s body and into the net.
Loko 1, Kensington Athletic 3
Despite Luke doing a great job sweeping in front of the defence, Ivan heading the ball out of danger on several occasions and Marcel being on his toes and averting danger, Loko’s lack of cohesion was beginning to show more and more. Gilles was showing good touches for his first match after 15 years and Luke was picking up loose balls in front of the defence. But, what with five regulars missing and four new players on the pitch in the second half, Loko were still finding it difficult to second guess each other.
Also, it was obvious that not enough players were prepared to take the game by the scruff of the neck and shake things up. Up front James alias the dinamo was being a nuisance to their defence and lashing on to every single stray ball. His reward came in the 62nd minute when a Kensington defender touched the ball with his hand and the ref pointed to the penalty spot. Extensive gamesmanship ensued where Kensington were trying to delay the taking of the penalty by recriminating with the ref and trying to put James off. No chance of that, for cool-as-a-cucumber JAMES took it all in his stride and placed the ball to the right of the diving keeper for his second goal of the match.
Loko 2, Kensington Athletic 3
By all accounts, this game seemed destined for more déjà vu, namely a draw. Yet, with only a few minutes before the final whistle, their insatiable winger went on an unstoppable run inside the Loko defence and Ivan tried to block his path without being too obvious but the ref awarded Kensington a penalty. Their centre forward took the penalty but it was a poor effort as he hit it in the direction of Ismail’s feet yet the ball again trickled past Ismail. Game, set and match.
Final score: Loko 2, Kensington Athletic 4
Captain Terry Hutton commented: “We gave a good game but we need to be stronger in the middle of the pitch. Again, this week we didn’t win the midfield battle”
Man of the Match (as awarded by Terry): James, a dazzling display and two great goals. Special mention (as awarded by Terry): Luke and Ivan
Terry (then Luke)
Alejandro (then Max)
Luiz (then Gilles)