Saturday, 18 April 2009

Narrabundah FC 2
Quiroga 2′, 53′ (pen)

Woden Valley 0

Jose Quiroga bagged a brace as Narrabundah got their season underway in the bright autumn sunshine with a good away win against last season’s runners up and grand final winners Woden Valley.

The match kicked off in Hughes on a pitch that despite the long off season appeared to have seen better days. Woden came out firing but it was Narrabundah that would take the initiative after a fairly scrappy initial period. As the teams were feeling each other out, the ball made its way to Dave Muller who was crudely felled from behind. He dusted himself off for the resulting free kick but looked to have hit the in swinging cross too deep, when Tim ‘this is a boozer’ McConkey somehow managed to wrap his foot around the ball in something between a bicycle and a flykick (we’ll call it a flycycle) and hooked a dangerous ball back into the area where a flying Jose Quiroga met it with a thunderous volley. Narrabundah were 1-0 up as most of the spectators were still finding their way to their seats.

Throughout the half, Muller continued causing problems up front but other than that, neither team seemed capable of really taking control of the match with both midfields largely cancelling each other out. Several of the Woden players apparently frustrated with the even handed refereeing began to dive into some reckless challenges, but Narrabundah held firm. In what was probably the best chance of the half, a lovely interchange between Park and Romero in the midfield left Romero with some space in the middle of the park and he duly picked out a run from Weir. Unfortunately for Weir, the monstrous Woden keeper managed to completely block out the sun and in the sudden darkness he was unable to finish the chance.

Woden were not without their chances though and in addition to threatening from the occasional set piece, deep into the half, a long ball out of defense wasn’t dealt with by the Narrabundah defense and resulted in a footrace between Da Costa and a Woden striker so large he could only be the goalkeeper’s brother. The monster knocked Da Costa to the ground and was clear through on goal when he inexplicably lofted his effort well over the crossbar. A timely reminder to all players of the danger of mixing ambition with ability. While the Woden Valley Gorilla held his head in frustration on the sideline, Narrabundah manager Antonio ‘Mad Dog’ Romero, clearly not happy with the trampling of Da Costa continued remonstrating with the 4th official in typically vigorous fashion.

Into the second half and Narrabundah looked a much better team, beginning to knock the ball around. Woden appeared to have given up on the idea of playing football and resorted to route 1 with long balls continually played in the direction of the monstrous lump up front. However, once again it would be Narrabundah that would take the early initiative with a good interchange of passing finishing with Park in a dangerous area in the box. The Woden defense clearly unnerved by the blistering pace of Park panicked and attempted simply to wrestle him to the ground in a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place in Mickey Rourke’s box office smash ‘The Wrestler’. The referee will not have many easier penalty call this season. Quiroga stepped up to the spot and never looked like missing with a shot into the top left hand corner.

From that point on, Narrabundah continued having the better chances and were also causing several problems with their set piece routines, only Romero’s well proportioned back preventing Remy “I’m too good for Bayern” Ellis from extending the lead with a rare header from a corner. As the Gorilla patrolling the sidelines broke out into a sweat, Narrabundah continued to miss chances with Quick and Romero both missing one on ones with the keeper after delightful lead up play from Quiroga, who by this stage was leading the Woden defense a merry dance. While the fans may have expected a late Woden bombardment, it never arrived and Narrabundah held out fairly comfortably in the end for what was at times a hard earned victory.

With confirmation that the standard of Div 5 is going to be surprisingly tough, Narrabundah will take confidence from this match knowing they can match it with the better teams in this league. Worryingly for the rest of Div 5, Narrabundah have shown today that despite not playing anywhere near their best for large patches of the match, they were still comfortable in disposing of one of the better teams from last season.