MPL – Round Ten v Cashmere Technical

It felt like we had little time to mourn our hectic Chatham Cup exit, as we headed back to Garrick Park to play Cashmere Tech in the League and have a crack at winning back the Hurley Shield.

Injuries Galore

No time to mourn and our squad was certainly feeling the long list of absentees going into this game. With Ash and Sean still carrying injuries from the Cup tie, combined with our vice Hogan and keeper Matt T absent, it meant we went into the game with eight players away from our squad of eighteen.

Although, with injured players comes opportunity for others; and the four 2019 debutants did really well today. The two debutants that started were at either end of the pitch and playing very well. Chris Kotrotsos in goal was a strong presence and Juan Changs rapidness and desire was pulling Techs CB’s around, making big holes for us to exploit.

Started Well

From the start we tried not to let Tech get in the game and once again the plan worked well. Although Tech had a few corners and some half chance shots from outside the box, again we felt pretty comfortable. We took the lead with Haris Zeb showing he is of National league quality. Beating Shcwarz on the turn and getting away a low hard left foot shot into the corner.

After the goal our boys got a real lift and just minutes later Haris, after pressing very well, was given a gift- but failed to get his lob on target. Our pressure continued and similar to last week we could have easily gone into halftime a few goals up. Toward the end of the first half we started to tire and received two key injuries. Juan Chang had to go off and Claudio had potentially fractured his rib. Due to these disruptions I think Tech started to dominate in the last five minutes of the half.

More injuries

At halftime we really had to make sure we had healthy players to continue applying pressure on Tech. Going into the game with eight people away then getting a further two injuries, we knew this second half was going to be a big task.

We managed to start the half very well and in the 70th minute we were awarded a penalty. Brett has managed to rumble through some challenges and end up being taken out in the box. Macca scores the penalty and at 2-0 up, some would think the job was nearly done. But I knew there were some very tired legs out there.

After the goal we had two players needing to come off with only one substitute. With all subs made and some unfit players being asked to do jobs of high intensity, our wheels really started to fall off. I knew before the game we had the goods to carry out our plan but the two first half injuries meant we were left scrambling a bit.

Tech came Alive

Tech’s first goal was from a corner. With the ball pinging around it looked like the ball was cleared off the line, however, the linesman decided the ball had only just crossed the line and awarded a goal. Our players were in disbelief. After that goal Cashmere were something else. We were hurting and tired and all of a sudden it felt like Tech had just come alive. Not only did we not have the energy to defend the way we wanted, we also didn’t have the composure or quality to keep the ball. And we need to keep the ball to rest sometimes.

MoM

Stand outs were Chris in goal, Jaun’s energy, and Reese was also class at CB. But MoM went to Sam Richards who is a player on the up. Congratulations are in order for old legend Jose Matiz for getting another Coastal cap and a young hidden gem Luke Aldridge for his first team debut.

4-2 was the final score and I felt that Tech’s dominance in the last twenty minutes of the game meant they deserved the win. After the game I was really able to see the positives. Two weeks in a row we have dominated a large part of the games against Cashmere Tech at Garrick Park. Can’t be a fluke twice in a row. I felt that had we had eight injuries instead of ten, we could have seen that game out. Both these games should give our players, staff and club huge reassurance that we are going in the right direction and could well challenge for the South Island League title.

First things first though, we need to qualify for it. And with our medics list brings us some challenges. Our next game is against Nomads at Tullet Park, a fixture we lost last year. We need a win to stay in the clear. Hope to see you there.

Ekow Quainoo