Real Tuesday 5 - 2 Baarcelona
In their first match of the season, the mighty Real Tuesday showed obvious signs of rust and early season inconsistency, while, in the final analysis, seeing off the rejuvenated Baarcelona by 5 goals to 2 at a rock hard Peffermill.
As befitting an early season encounter, the silky skills and relentless attacking for which the Real are justly famed were only fitfully in evidence during the game. Rocked by late withdrawals, the loss of regulars from the previous season and the sentencing of Gary Gormley to six months in a Texas Penitentiary, the Real were slightly out of shape (and some of the players very out of shape) for this curtain raiser.
Initially, it looked like business as usual when, after 7 minutes, Simon was released into the box and, after drawing the keeper, rifled the ball just inside the far post. 1-0 to the Real.
In response, Baarca pushed up field and were understandably upset when they twice hit the bar in a matter of seconds. Not, however, as upset as they were seconds later, when a long clearance from Tom released Simon from the half way line. Quickly outpacing his marker, Simon then coolly turned inside the covering sweeper before finishing with a gorgeous curling left foot shot just inside the far upright. The dismay was all too apparent on the faces of the half dozen Baarca players still inside the Real penalty box, where, seconds before, they had been pushing for the equaliser. Now, they could only stare at the ball nestling in the net at the other end. 2-0 to the Real after 15 minutes.
The demoralised Baarca were now easy pickings for the silky skills of the Real, and, after 20 minutes, the Real struck again. The enigmatic, ball-playing left back that is Bonus Fombo brought the ball out of defence in his own inimitable style before slipping a pass to the rumbustious left winger Ryan 'Bucko' McCaul. A quick interchange between Tom and Ryan saw the latter striding into the area and burying his shot past the hapless Baarca keeper. 3-0 to the Real.
Finally, just before half-time, Baarca were awarded a dubious penalty. Admittedly, the late assault by Kenny 'Chopper' Stewart was probably deserving of a card of some hue, but so late was the 'tackle' that the ball had already gone dead, been collected from the gardens at the Allotment End and been returned to James' hands for the goal kick ... before Kenny eventually made contact with the unfortunate Baarca player. Perhaps many might see the referee's call as a sporting decision, as it allowed Kenny to stay on the pitch while giving Baarca an almost certain goal. Justice was, however, done, with James cementing his position as Real's last (and sometimes only) line of defence in comfortably saving the spot kick.
Continuing the Real tradition of impressive counterattacking, the team in white proceeded to race up the pitch, and, following a cross from the left by Tom, Ryan swivelled impressively at the far post to fire a left foot volley past the helpless Baarca keeper. 4-0 to the Real.
Then, with nearly the last kick of the half, Baarca finally managed to breach the Real defensive line with a short range finish following a goalmouth stramash.
With a comfortable half-time lead of 4-1, the Real were happy to sit back and soak up the Baarca pressure throughout the second period, while occasionally relying on James's reflexes to keep the opposition out. The major talking point at half-time was the appearance of previous Real regular Pauline 'Judess' Rafferty for the opposition.
Even though Baarca scored shortly after the restart, the Real were rarely in any real trouble, and the majority of talking points concerned the disciplinary attitudes of the players.
Firstly, Bonus launched himself off the ground and flew parallel to the turf before making contact with Fahd somewhere around waist height. With Fahd being something of a short-ars*, however, the referee obviously felt that there was little to complain about with the challenge.
There then followed the curious case of the two bookings. Firstly, Tom was harshly booked for falling over after being fouled. Admittedly he did go down like an arthritic homosexual, but the tackler was already trying to talk his way out of a card before he realised - to both his and everyone else's astonishment - that it was Tom who was seeing yellow. And, talking of seeing colours, there was no doubt what shade of mist had descended upon Zyco after he was pulled up by the referee for a foul. Grabbing the ball, the enraged Highlander booted it at the ref while bellowing that the official should go forth and multiply. Fortunately, Zyco's shot was no more accurate than the other ones he came up with on Friday evening, and the ball whistled harmlessly away. This meant that the only outcome of the incident was a yellow card for the striker, rather than the assault charge he might otherwise have picked up once we had resuscitated the unconscious match official.
Shortly before full time, Ryan again raced clear on the left and provided an inch perfect cross for wee Craig to volley into the roof of the net. 5-2 to the Real, and job done.
And, finally, the match report would not be complete without reference to quite possibly the worst corner ever taken. For reasons best known to himself, Bucko had ended up taking the corner, and appeared to be trying some kind of preemptive stepover before hitting the ball with the outside of his boot. Either that, or auditioning for 'Riverdance'. Needless to say, this resulted in the ball failing even to leave the corner arc before crossing the goal line.
Overall, then, an ultimately comfortable win for Real,
but the management will now be facing some tough decisions after the
ploy of playing four attacking, wide midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation
proved successful when going forward but left gaps for the heavyweight
Baarca boys to exploit when they got the ball. The gaffer now faces
the task of preserving the attacking style for which the Real are renowned
while enforcing greater defensive solidity.