Saturday, 13 June 2009

Tuggeranong United FC 2
A. Longbomb 14′, O. Da Post 31′

Narrabundah FC 2
Russell 23′, Dziubinski 38′

On a bitterly cold day in the south of Canberra, a resilient Narrabundah side twice came from behind to earn a hard fought point at league leaders Tuggeranong United.

Lining up with a squad that wouldn’t look at out of place in the higher echelons of the Canberra league, it was a high flying Tuggeranong United side that kicked off and immediately took the game to Narrabundah from the offset.

With the Narrabundah starting 11 resembling the undead foes from the delightfully light-hearted video game romp, Plants Vs Zombies, it was no surprise when Tuggeranong took the lead early. A ball was played early into Longbombs feet in the final third, given the time to turn and run, he struck an absolute missile from outside the area just inside the far post, leaving Pena in goals with no chance.

Fortunately for Narrabundah this seemed to reverse the Zombie curse and they soon began zipping the ball around putting together some nice pieces of play with Ibaceta particularly influential. Tuggeranong though were still having the best of the chances and several times went close, with the Narrabundah defense struggling to cope with the crosses coming in from the flanks. But then came the luck Narrabundah needed.

Tuggeranong, attempting to play out of the back, were quickly closed down and forced back to the keeper. Scott “the flying Pole” Dziubinski was quickly onto him after stumbling, tangled with the keeper who was rushed into a rushed clearance which fell to the onrushing Adrian ‘ninja’ Russell who, with the keeper out of action duly finished into the empty net. Tuggeranong were incensed, but the referee was on the spot and saw nothing untoward, Dziubinski for his part later claiming the keeper had in fact tripped over his prostrate body as he attempted to retreat to goal.

Tuggeranong continued to press after the goal and came close several times, the most notable when a cut back was blasted against the cross bar when it appeared easier to score. Tuggeranong did go ahead again though soon after. A neat through ball from midfield found a Tuggeranong striker clear through on goal. Pena was quickly off his line and managed to shut down the angle, but the ball was struck against the post and unfortunately for Narrabundah, fell to another Tuggeranong striker, who with Pena beaten had an empty net to finish into. The relief in Tuggeranong’s celebrations betrayed the fact they were getting a tougher game than they had anticipated, and unknown to them at the time, that was to continue.

Russell, restored to midfield for this match, was particularly impressive, consistently penetrating down the left flank and creating havoc for the surprisingly shaky Tuggeranong defense. After several near misses, Russell earned a corner from the left side. He stepped up to swing in a near post cross which Dziubinski managed to flick on, and to everyone’s amazement looped into the far top corner. Narrabundah were on equal terms again and this seemed to fire them up further. As the half time whistle blew, it was Narrabundah making all the running and a deflated Tuggeranong side holding on.

As the players re-emerged for the second half, Narrabundah were in buoyant mood. With a few tweaks to the line-up, Narrabundah continued to press in midfield and were making a match of it. Tuggeranong with their litany of stars were still having the better of possession, but with Harvie and Dziubinski’s pace upfront, Narrabundah were causing all sorts of problems on the break. Twice, questionable offside calls went against the visitors when first Dziubinski and then Weir appeared to be through on goal, the Tuggeranong captain/coach running the line perhaps extracting some payback for the perceived injustice of the first Narrabundah goal.

Narrabundah though continued to create and waste chances and in the final 10 minutes began to drop very deep. With the two speedsters up front withdrawn, Tuggeranong began to push on in numbers and Pena was forced into some good saves, first getting down low to save from a free kick from just outside the box, then again from close range after a scramble in the box. Narrabundah though held on for a creditable 2-2 draw which will instill some much needed confidence for the coming weeks. 

Next week the resurgent reds are at home to the dangerous Canberra FC, most pundits pick for the premiership with a line-up consisting largely of Canberra FCs young Premier League cast offs.