Saturday, 15 August 2009

 W. Matthau 9′, 28′ (pen); J. Lemmon 36′, 75′

Narrabundah FC 2
Russell 67′; Quiroga 81′ (pen)

On yet another beautiful day in Canberra, Narrabundah took the field against high flying ANU and from the off it was clear ANU were not going to take a step back playing, as they were, for top spot. Three early goals effectively sealed the match in the first half, but Narrabundah restored some pride, winning the second half 2-1.

As the teams took the field, it was a fired up ANU side that took the initiative, dominating possession and knocking the ball around. Narrabundah were at first happy to concede possession and territory and play on the break, but failed the first real test when a hopeful ANU ball into the box was misjudged and failed to be cleared, the ANU striker controlling neatly with his walking frame before slotting home from a narrow angle.

Narrabundah barely had time to recover from that goal before the second arrived from the penalty spot. ANU had won a corner and, after some argy bargy in the box, an ANU player went down. The referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot and the penalty was clinically converted. Things then went from bad to worse for Narrabundah as after a couple more close calls, Narrabundah goal keeper Ross went down with what looked to be a hamstring. Pena replaced him in goals but barely had time to settle before another ANU raid down the right resulted in another clinical finish into the top corner.  The half-time whistle could not come quickly enough for Narrabundah as they struggled to put any meaningful play together but managed to hold out until the break.

After some half time soul searching, Narrabundah came out fired up and desperate to restore some dignity to the score line, and to their credit they did. With Russell and McConkey leading the charge in midfield with some crunching challenges and Da Costa up front making a nuisance of himself, ANU looked rattled and Narrabundah began to boss the play.

After a couple of close calls, Narrabundah got their break through. A quick interchange between Quiroga and Russell saw the latter break free down the left and leaving several players in his wake, cut in and slotted calmly from the angle.

Narrabundah kept pushing but were then undone by ANUs best goal of the match. A quick exchange in midfield saw a ball played into the ANU strikers feet. A quick dummy with his walking stick and a neat touch with the prosthesis saw the ball played neatly in behind the Narrabundah defense before a neat finish underneath the on-rushing Pena. 4-1 but Narrabundah were not finished yet.

Narrabundah continued to fight and it was clearly unsettling the ‘experienced’ ANU side as the manager began resorting to excessive substitutions and the tackles from the oldies began to get later and later. Quiroga though stepped up to take advantage of the rash tackling, using some neat footwork to work his way into the box, one rash tackle too many came in and the referee once again pointed to the spot. Quiroga dusted himself off and coolly slotted home from the spot. Narrabundah back to 4-2 and the oldies were really starting to sweat now.

As the intensity lifted again, after a couple of near misses and crunching tackles, tempers came to a head. ANUs grumpiest old man, infamous for his whining, slid in to take the ball from Quiroga. As he stood up after making the challenge, Quiroga went to put a friendly arm around his shoulder but, in sign of just how rattled the pensioners were, instead of accepting this gesture of friendship, decided to give Quiroga a poke in the head with his elbow. Quiroga reacted with what will surely go down as ‘Attempted Haymaker of the Season’, which luckily for both players, somehow missed taking his head clean off. The referee seeing the whole incident, sent both players off much to the disgust of the bus load of retirement home supporters that had been enjoying their day out.

As the final whistle blew, ANU continued their protests, apparently arguing that in the olden days, elbows to the head were actually a sign of endearment and that clearly their man was therefore innocent.

After the post match handbags had been settled and the youngest member of the ANU squad had wiped all the excess sunscreen off his bald scalp, Narrabundah looked back on what really was another story of missed opportunity. Once again showing that can more than match ANU when on song, Narrabundah will rue the poor 1st half which essentially cost them the game. They will need to back up for next week though as the visit of a resurgent Juventus awaits. Juve have been pushing hard for a top 4 spot and with the top 4 dropping points like they’re too heavy, will be hopeful that if they can continue winning they will be able to sneak into the that last finals spot. If the last time these teams met (in fact the last time Juve and any team met) is anything to go by, it should be a spiteful encounter.