By Simon and resident guido, Steven.
A superb performance by the referee last Friday night meant that the Hatchets were held to a frustrating draw. This was only the second game that this particular ref had managed since his controversial performance in the 2002 World Cup South Korea vs Italy game. For those that aren’t aware of the greatest controversy of the century, the Azzurri were robbed of a World Cup final appearance and a certain 5th and record-setting World Cup. Now this unbiased reporter is not suggesting that Annerley Axis of Evil, newly managed by a guy that resembles Guus Hiddink, the same bloke that managed South Korea in the 2002 finals, got up to some dodgy business, but one can’t deny that it smells fishier than my Sunday Marinara.
The Hatchets took to the field in their usual formation of 4-4-2, with some forced late changes to the defence as Bjorn ‘Stefanutto’ Burgher was struck down with a severe case of the man flu. The centre back duo of Tom H and Steven C performed well in last Friday’s inter-team not so friendly friendly and were called in to fill his tiny boots.
The game had barely begun when talismanic striker Nick, who has been likened by some to Filippo Inzaghi for his ability to find the back of the net almost at will, was hacked down on the edge of box. All of the Hatchets and many of the Annerley players appealed for the penalty, but the referee gave an early sign of intent by waving play on. “You boys will have to do better than that to beat this old-timer”, he muttered to himself while jogging back to the centre circle.
However, the Hatchets’ dominance was such that there was nothing he could do to prevent a goal going in eventually. Norwegian import Sjors showed what he can do with a pinpoint cross, which was volleyed home by Trey, in scenes reminiscent of Graziano Pelle scoring at this summer’s rigged European Championships.
Andy Gray had barely finished telling the viewers at home that “a team is most vulnerable when they’ve just scored” when Annerley won a free kick in a dangerous position. A good delivery created some confusion in the box, and a Hatchets defender
was forced to commit a handball to prevent a certain goal put in an excellent and legal block on the goal line. Sure enough though, the referee pointed to the spot, and sure enough, it was converted to even up the scores going into half time.
The second half was an open and entertaining contest. Annerley played a physical game, and both teams were happy to play direct, attacking football. It was certainly the Hatchets that came closest to scoring, though, and it was Nick again The Creator.
Finding himself with time to turn in the box, Nick pushed towards the byline in the 65th minute. “And it’s Rigby, with his bulldog-like approach”, Andy Gray yelled excitedly into the microphone. A crude tackle from the Annerley defender looked to have given away a penalty, but the cunning referee wriggled out of this tight spot by deciding to award “advantage, play on” instead. “But sir, I’d rather have the penalty”, said Nick, as he got to his feet and tried to reattach his foot after the scything tackle. The crafty officiator was not to fall for this one either, and the chance went begging.
There were more chances for the team from UQ Med, but none could be converted. Marcus tested the keeper from inside the box, while Nick hit the crossbar with a rasping drive from 20 metres out. But the best chance of all came in injury time, when a direct ball from the back found Nick through on goal. The crowd leapt to their (two) feet, anticipating another exciting Rigby shot into the crossbar, but it was not to be – the indomitable referee had played his final ace, and blown for full time.
So 1-1 the final score, and a missed opportunity for the Hatchets to make up ground on the league leaders. But plenty of positives to take from this game, and they will be rightly optimistic going into next week’s equally massive game against Warriors.
The Hatchets play their rivals Warriors FC on 22 July.