Saturday, 11 July 2009

Narrabundah FC 2
J. Krithianakis 36′ (pen), P. Romero 54′ (pen)

Tuggeranong United 2
E. Levin Yards 16′ (pen), Crool Deflekshon 25′

True to form, coming into the game as rank underdogs against a high flying Tuggeranong team that hadn’t dropped points since the last time the two teams met, Narrabundah rose to the occasion to take a creditable point, but it could have been so much more for the plucky home side.

It was a surprisingly mild day in Narrabundah when the teams took the field, free of the usual icy winds, the spectators were enjoying the day out, basking in the winter sunshine.

As the game kicked off, it was Narrabundah making the early running, hassling and looking to use the speed of Scott ‘head first’ Dziubinski on the break. After a couple of close calls requiring intervention from the over zealous Tuggeranong keeper,  and a string of corners, disaster struck for the home side. Once again their own worst enemy, the ball was cheaply turned over at the back by Narrabundah and caught out, a rash tackle in the box led to a penalty. Despite Pena in goals guessing the right way, he was unable to make the save and Tuggeranong had the lead with their first real attack of the game.

Despite going a goal behind, Narrabundah maintained their composure and continued to apply pressure, but then further misfortune struck when a Tuggeranong midfielder picked up the ball a few yards outside the box and let fly. Pena looked to have it covered before a wicked deflection took the ball into the opposite side of the goal. 

Narrabundah though bucked recent trends and kept fighting at this stage when it would have been exceedingly easy to lose heart and after a period of pressure, earned a penalty of their own through a handball decision. With regular penalty taker Paulo Romero on the bench at that stage, John Krithianakis stepped up and slotted home calmly from the spot. Both teams had chances as the half wound down but neither managed to make them tell.

After an upbeat half time team talk, Narrabundah re-emerged looking the more dangerous with first Paulo and Dziubinski and then Dave ‘1 in 5’ Muller and Renato causing problems for the ponderous Tuggeranong backline. With Dziubinski’s pace a constant menace, eventually a well placed ball from Paulo found the speedster running into space in the box. The keeper came off his line but was beaten to the ball and instead settled for punching the Narrabundah striker in the head. Narrabundah had their penalty, but incredibly, despite being last man, being later than an English train, clocking Dziubinski in his recently concussed head, and being a general pest, the referee decided against sending the Tuggeranong goalkeeper off or even giving him a stern talking to. With Paulo restored to his penalty taking duties, he calmly slotted home and Narrabundah had their equaliser.

As the teams fought out the remainder of the half, the match stayed surprisingly well tempered despite the referee having left his cards at home. Both teams created opportunities but neither keeper had any saves of note to make before the end of the game.

Narrabundah’s best chances falling deep in the match, the first a Romero burst into the box which led to the Tuggeranong keeper having to scramble off his line once again to collect as both players slid in. The second and best chance in the dying minutes though was from a free-kick right on the edge of the 18 yard box after the Tuggeranong keeper, in his general pesty way, had stepped outside the box when kicking up field. The Narrabundah bench was sent into a frenzy as Dave ‘Special Teams’ Muller was brought on for the potentially match winning free kick.

As he carefully placed the ball, a hush fell over the crowd. The tension mounted as he stepped out his run-up while the Tuggeranong goalkeeper carefully placed his wall. There was something special in the air as he begun his run-up… and unfortunately it poked him in the eye as he hit the ball, resulting in his shot being 50 meters off the ground and still rising as it crossed the far sideline for a throw-in. Jeers erupted from both benches and continued until the final whistle as the match petered out.  

Once again, a result that will lead to much head scratching throughout the rest of the league. After dropping 6 points against lower league opposition, Narrabundah once again prove they can comfortably mix it with the top of the table. With little room for error if finals action is to be seen, the momentum from this result will need to be carried into the coming weeks to ensure maximum points from the next few games.