“I hope that’s not in the match report” – Bjorn Burgher, after a shanked clearance
An understrength Herston Hatchets side did just enough to beat the Gustav Hurricanes at Prentice Park today. Despite being without several star players, the Hatchets played well and were clearly the better team on the day.
Having an enforced week off due to the forfeit by Brisbane Athletic gave weary Hatchets legs a well-earned chance to recuperate in the physiotherapy clinics and on the massage tables of Brisbane. Adonis-like striker Adam Irelandes received specialist therapy for a neck injury; Steven ‘the Tuscan Freight Train’ Cecchi took time off training to help with a back problem; and compact midfielder Michael Alim spent many long hours in the small massage parlour owned by his family (known colloquially as Milton Rub’N’Tug).But it wasn’t all good news on the injury front. Midfielder Corey Area is out for the season with a suspected ACL tear. Pierre-Nicholas Boyer’s girlfriend called up to let us know that he will be sidelined for a few weeks with ‘personal issues’. ‘Furious’ Kregg Laundon made a late bid to recover from a soft tissue injury by taking a course of horse placenta injections, but was unable to take his place on the pitch.
Darius Ashrafi returned to the side after a loan stint overseas, and he joined debutant goalkeeper Naz Wahab on the ‘inclusions’ list. Wahab was in high spirits before the game, saying: ‘Of course I’m excited! It’s a boyhood dream of mine to represent Herston, so I’ve never been happier.” Drew Williams, on the other hand, was unavailable for comment.
The match began well for the Hatchets. Intensive technique work at training seemed to be paying off, with the red men dominating possession in midfield and forcing a few early saves from the opposition goalkeeper. However, as has often been the case this season, they were unable to make the most of their chances, and it was the Hurricanes that drew first blood.
It was a familiar pattern. A turnover in midfield led to a quick ball forward by the Hurricanes, and the opposition striker found himself one-on-one with Wahab. Unfortunately, the finish left little chance for the rookie keeper, and the ball nestled snugly into the bottom corner of the goal.
It’s safe to say that the Hatchets were stung into action. A series of promising attacks turned up the pressure on the brittle (like shortbread) Gustav FC defence, and that’s how the equaliser came. Jenya ‘the Belarusian Bulldog’ Demidenok’s corners had been worrying the opposition all day. This particular corner, in the 36th minute, was stood up to the far post. The ball seemed to float in slow motion as all those on the pitch realised what they were about to witness.
The Tuscan Freight Train began his run-up from outside the 18-yard box, slowly working up to full pace. One unfortunate Hurricanes defender came within grappling distance of the big centre-back, and was picked up to use as a battering ram. No one else made the same mistake. Cecchi eventually lumbered up to the six yard box just as the ball arrived, and leapt like a spawning salmon to thump the ball into the back of the net. The goalkeeper showed excellent reflexes to dive out of the way of the explosive header. Cecchi could have been forgiven for celebrating exuberantly, but mysteriously decided not to attempt a knee slide – regardless, it was 1-1. Opposition players surrounded the referee in sheer anger that a foul hadn’t been called for obstruction on their goalkeeper, but the quick-thinking whistle-blower only replied with “I know you are, you said you are, but what am I?” until the Hurricanes players were forced to drop the issue.
The second half began as the first had ended. It was all Hatchets across the park, as the boys seemed to win every single 50/50 challenge. More chances were spurned but it only seemed to be a matter of time.
The second goal finally came when Fast-Feet Bing Lee was able to turn his defender on the right-hand side and dribble into the 18-yard box. The fleet-footed winger found fleet-footed striker Sam Shum, who showed composure to square the ball to coach Demidenok for a tap-in. It was no less than the Hatchets deserved.
The remainder of the game passed without great incident. Sam Shum had the chance to cap off an impressive display by him with a goal, but fired a shot into the upright from a tight angle. Up the other end, the Herston defence wasn’t tested, and the final score remained at 2-1.
The Herston Heroes have another week off as a reward for their strong performance, to the disappointment of many players. However, Michael Alim is believed to be delighted with the opportunity to sort out his ‘back pain’ once and for all. The next game is at Opperman Park Colosseum against the Naita Phoenix. Tickets are still available.