“Man, that was such a hard half after not playing for a month. I’m wrecked, I’m surprised I even made it through.”
“Steven, you got sent off after 30 minutes…”
The Herston Hatchets and Warriors FC played out a thrilling game on Friday night. It may have finished as a 1-1 draw, but there was still plenty of entertainment for the spectators. The Warriors, who were something of an unknown quantity heading into the game, pushed the Hatchets every step of the way with their physical style.
Herston was coming off a three-game winning streak, and sitting in second place on the Friday Premier ladder. Warriors had also been getting some promising results, so it was shaping up to be a tight match. Nonchalant defender Tom H said in his pre-game press conference that “I’m jealous of all the fans who get to come and watch this one from the sidelines.”
In team news for the Hatchets, captain Steven Cecchi passed a late fitness test to take his place at the centre of defence. It had been a month-long layoff for the first-generation Italian migrant. The other big change was the inclusion of ex-international goalkeeper Niv due to the absence of Alex. Niv proclaimed himself “ready for anything” while strapping on the gloves for the first time this season.
Any hopes the Hatchets may have had of a straightforward game were dashed within the opening exchanges. The Warriors played a tough, physical style and even the usually conflict-positive Cecchi found himself wishing for a friendlier opponent. In a repeat of the game vs Annerley, the Hatchets found themselves struggling to break down a defense-minded team who were happy to sit back and absorb pressure.
The Warriors’ defensive tactics may have worked, but for the shooting prowess of talismanic winger Nick R. Herston’s top goalscorer this year picked up the ball on the left flank, cut inside and unleashed a shot with his charmed right foot. The ball swerved wickedly, and a clearly bamboozled Warriors goalkeeper could do nothing as it crashed into the back of the net.
However, it wasn’t too long before the Warriors brought themselves back on level terms. A fast break created space down the left hand side. The ball was played through to their left winger, who struck it first time from a tight angle. Despite having absolutely no business shooting from that position, the ball miraculously headed straight for the bottom corner. Not even a valiant dive from Niv could keep the shot out of the net.
In the second half, there were more chances to both teams. The Hatchets controlled possession for much of the half, but couldn’t quite force it into the net. Nick R almost scored his second with a nice left-foot strike, but the ball hit the inside of the post and bounced back. Up the other end, Niv was forced into several excellent saves to keep the scores level.
The referee was forced to show a few cards, mostly to Warriors players. Most of these came from their strategy of marking Hatchets midfield maestro Logan, which was basically to foul him every time he touched the ball. The game became increasingly ill-tempered towards the end, and the final whistle probably saved more trouble.
The game will be remembered mainly for Niv’s outstanding debut performance, with some big saves keeping the Hatchets in the game, and consequently in touch with league leaders Annerley on the ladder. The team from UQ Med are now 2 points behind, going into a home game against Titans on the 10th of June. Tickets are still available.