Last Friday night saw a twitching Hatchets line up take the field against last year’s nemesis and season winners, Annerley Axis of Evil. I should say at the start, the Hatchets were twitching because Saturday night was med ball, and some people were already pre-drinking in excitement for the event. Despite this obvious distraction, Hatchets still managed to find a full 15 players for this game, even though only 5 would fit on the Annerley home ground at a time. And after a 24-minute break down of the rules of soccer from our favourite Serbian referee, the high-stakes match up was underway.
After an intense five-minutes of game time, Sjors “The Dutch Foreign Legion” Plugge, was removed from the field after a well-placed foot-stomp from the opposition winger. Fortunately for Annerley, the referee was thinking back to the episode of Passions that he had watched that day, and awarded the penalty to the Axis. Shortly after this incident, Dan Edey miraculously found himself with the ball, only to receive a well-placed foot-stomp from the opposition winger. Despite Edey’s calls of ‘he hit me on the nerve’, the referee awarded a penalty to Annerley for disruption of play from the Hatchet’s winger.
Both teams strung together some good passes in the first half, working with the 12” per player available on the field. Several quick through balls and good runs by Collin Greer opened a few opportunities for the Hatchets in the first half, however the fleet footed Annerley keeper managed to deflect Greer’s shots as they were kicked directly at him, but they were pretty firm shots, credit to Greer.
Annerley also managed several quality through-balls and shots in the first half. Fortunately for the Hatchets, defensive midfielder and primary penalty taker Rocky Kang has been working on his ‘iron forehead’ technique, and managed to head out 90% of crosses by the Axis of Evil.
Ending the first half 0-0, the tensions were high as opposing players needed to physically hug each other to fit on the field, and that kind of proximity never bodes well for young men. The first casualty of the second half was a tactical tackle on Dr. Kang in the 62nd minute when we went up for his 92nd defensive header of the game. This tackle found Kang’s legs mid-air and had him land flat-backed on the ground. Penalty was awarded to Axis. Re-taking the field after having a brief cry in the sidelines about the future of dorsiflexion in his right foot, Dan Edey ran on to a quality through ball from Greer. Having a defender either side and realising the lack of dorsiflexion in his right foot was limiting his maximum pace on the ball, Edey attempted to slide-tackle the ball into the goal from 30 yards. Ambitious yes, approved by the ref – no. Edey was shortly removed from the field.
The second half saw even lower quality football than the first half, with both teams having manpower on the pitch, but lacking the space to set up any plays to break the strong defensive play on both sides. While Tim Thorn practiced his verbal riposte on the opposition captain, Georges Mehawed showed why the hatchet’s had bought him this season – holding the ball up in midfield for the Hatchets on nearly every play and restricting opposition attacks to the wing, where Rocky Kang’s well trained head was positioned.
With all the action occurring on the field, one cannot forget the real Hatchet’s hero, Tej Sidhu, who has been holding the highly respected position of bench-manager this season, took the field. With two minutes remaining in the game it was a bold move from Tej, who hasn’t had game time since 2006 when his Under 13 team came second in Melbourne U13 Div 5 – a season when Tej was also bench manager.
Possibly due to the bench-manager’s arrival in the game, or due to a great penalty layup by Rockie Kang, with only 2 minutes to go the Hatchets posted the first score of the game. Yet another slide tackle from Axis gave Kang an indirect at the half-way line, which was 20 yards from the goal. A long, floating penalty kick found the smooth, perfectly waxed head of Moonie Singh, and slid on into the top right corner, putting Hatchets 1-0 up.
With only two minutes to go, the referee called full-time anyway, as he heard a Passions re-run was starting in 15 minutes, leaving the final score at 1-0 towards the hatchets, a small consolation with the goal deficit they are now trying to claw back. Alex Graves won man-of-the-match.
Stay tuned for Saturday’s report, where the Hatchets take on both UQ Law and UQ Economics in a medium-stakes, average-octane inter-faculty football and jargon-based-bants tournament.