Sun 6 Oct 2013
Loko 3 vs AFC Maverick 2
LOKO UNDERDOGS DEFY THE ODDS THROUGH SHEER DETERMINATION
Bright sunshine. Shiny Inter Milan shirts (including captain Matt/s whose cunning plan is to wear a numberless shirt so he never gets a yellow card!). Most of the squad on time (except for keeper John who made it 10 mns into the game after not waking up from his slumber in time).
Things were looking good for the Loko-men, until kick off that is. AFC Maverick were 2 divisions above us last season and it showed right from kick-off. Their number 7 in particular was a bit of a handful but credit to Marcel for sticking to him like glue and making his speed count against the tricky wizard.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to shout about for the first 20 mns as the men in yellow were composed and skilful on the ball as we were chasing shadows and trying to repel attacks down the wings.
As Morris picked up an injury after just 25mns, John made his entrance allowing Terry to push up in his natural midfield position whilst dynamic Lawrence slotted in as right back
On 17 minutes, their number 8 danced his way into our box and slammed the ball into the far corner for their well deserved opener. The very few Loko attacks saw a few misdirected shots by Adil, Ricardo Gomes and Matt and things were looking decidedly grim.
Well, they did until 31 minutes when RICARDO GOMES, who was making his comeback 5 months after the Poland tournament, perked everybody up. Gomes dodged his defender and unleashed a venomous shot from 25 yards out that flew into the keeper’s top left corner. Cue wild – and incredulous – jubilations from the men in black and blue.
Things looked up from then on. Loko were now settling nicely and you could feel the positive vibe and a sense that, maybe, just maybe, Loko could perform a giant-killing act.
Indeed, the dream got within closer reach when ADIL, who, up until then had been rather quiet, performed a majestic scissor kick on the edge of their box and the ball flew over the defence and into their keeper's far corner.
Half time: Loko 2 vs AFC Maverick 1
The second half was very much in keeping with the last 15 minutes of the first half. Loko were not dominating but presented a menace to the Maverick team who, based on the first 2 thirds of the first half, probably thought they were going to demolish us.
Things looked even rosier for Loko when James scampered down the left wing and crossed for ADIL who connected with the ball and his header found the net for Loko’s third.
From then on, Maverick were looking miffed with the whole thing and stepped up a gear. John had definitely recovered from his slumber as the flying Irishman dived to his left to save what looked like a sure point blank goal then jumped above everybody else to grab the ball away from their sturdy forwards on countless occasions.
Mark, who’d played very well so far, had to come off and was replaced by Ivan who ended up being paired up with Terry as Ismail moved up to the midfield, followed by Andre who took over from Mo.
On 77 minutes, the Loko defence stepped forward leaving their number 23 half a yard offside but, unfortunately, our linesman missed the blatant offside. Their forward was left one on one against John, who still made it a bit complicated for him to score, but he did nonetheless. The Spanish referee declared that the goal would stand despite John’s recriminations.
From then on, the game turned into Alamo, the Battle of Britain and Desert Storm rolled into one. Maverick looked very angry and determined not to lose to the Loko underdogs. The bombardment was relentless and you still wonder how they didn't score. The only answer is that Loko were resolute and showed amazing spirit and grit to take into the second leg.
Overall, this was Loko's best performance this season against arguably the best team we are likely to face in 2013/14. Second leg on 13 October... It's going to be exciting!!!
M.O.M: This week's MOM award was put to the public vote in the changing roomss and it went to RICARDO GOMES, who scored a great goal and was involved in a lot of the play and pipped Terry, a deserving second. Special mentions to John, Adil, Marcel, James and Mark.
Line-up: Terry (then John, 25') - Morris (then Terry, 25 mns), Mark (then Ivan, 70'), Ismail, Marcel - Lawrence, Matt, Ricardo Gomes, Mo (then Andre 74') - James, Adil