Fans packed the stand, rainwater pooled across the pitch and anxiety peaked as the exam-weary Hatchets pulled a dominating 4-1 win over Sunshine Lions on Friday night.
With another dominating win last week, the Herston Hatchets look ready to put the previous week’s disappointing loss behind them in their mission to assert themselves in the Friday night South East Queensland football league. Being warned by coach, manager, Emperor and benevolent dictator Alex Graves to keep their mouths shut and eyes on the ball, the Hatchets were on their best behaviour – with very positive results.
The Sunshine Lions have had a mixed season so far, tying 4-4 with the current league leaders just one week before facing the Hatchets. Earlier in the season they had a 7-3 win over SYL, convincingly retiring the team that have been the undoing of Herston in all four of their meetings. A physical, fast and highly skilled team, the Hatchets would need things to go in their favour on Friday night if they were to pull a W.
This advantage came early with the sideline after his assist on the first goal of the match. Well-and-truly out of position, Andrew Welch started the game on Friday creating a left-wing link up by pushing several runs before linking up with forwards. Fast on the ball and consistently beating defenders, Welch found himself in promising position, cutting in from the left wing towards the opposition 18. With Hatchets forwards pressing the box, Welch cut a ball across the Lions defensive line, finding Darius Kay outside the back post. To cries of ‘OFFSIDE REF!’, Darius made no mistake, nutmegging the goalkeeper convincingly and putting the Hatchet’s to an early 1-0 lead.
This would be the start of the end for the Lions. Thrown off by the first of many rough calls by the referee of the night, the Lions became frustrated – emulating the Hatchets of the week before. This frustration led to back tackles, free kicks and missed plays by the Sunshine side. One such mistake saw Hatchet’s midfielder Austin, Texas, receiving a studs-up slide-tackled just inside the opposition 18. Regardless of what happened on that penalty, the result was a corner to the Hatchet’s. Tightly lacing his boot, Edey – taking the corner – signalled to the referee it was time. Knowing the signal, the ref briefly pulled aside several Lion’s players while Edey took the cross. Finding Tej Sidhu without any opposition, Tej deposited the ball for the Hatchet’s second of the night.
Half-time saw the Med XI being 2-0 up and in high spirits. Calm and collected words from Manager Tej Sidhu reminded the boys to keep their heads down and eyes on the goal. The Hatchet’s were listening.
The second half saw the Lion’s come out hard – looking to make up the deficit. Fortunately, newly named Herston captain Rockie Kang continued his form this season, organising the back line effectively and rebuffing all assaults mounted by the Lions. Which was good given that the Herston midfielders have not made it back in defence once this season.
As part of drafting this year, Herston made a packaged purchase of first and second year med students John Zhang and Darius Kay. Though critics criticised for buying the two players together, one being the team’s resident power-defender (Zhang) and the other a rolling-rock forward (Kay), it was thought the package-deal would not be a practical fit in the team. Critics were wrong. Fifteen minutes into the second half Andrew Welch yet again found himself unable to get back in defence. Making up for this mistake, John Zhang gained possession from the Lions midfielder, beating him and finding himself ten yards inside Lion territory. At this point Lions defender’s hands shot up – Welch was miles offside and Zhang had few options.
Zhang – finding options in his draft partner – invented a pass through Lion’s defenders to an onside Darius Kay. Finding himself one-on-one with the keeper, Darius nutmegged him again, sentencing him to join the spice team and putting the Hatchet’s to three-up.
Not finished, Zhang took it upon himself to invent some more plays shortly after. Pushing a run down the left wing, beating the Lion’s defenders, he stepped the goalkeeper and stopped the ball on the line next to the Lion goal. An expert in Pythagorean theory, Zhang performed a 180-noscope and deflected a shot off the final Lions defender and sending Hatchet’s to 4-0.
By this point, the Lions began to self-destruct. Abusive words to the referee saw several yellow cards being delivered for dissent. Despite the frustration, a consolation goal was found for the Sunshine side. Playing short off a corner, the Sunshine centre put a pass through the mass of players in the box, finding a Sunshine forward who managed to beat Hatchet’s keeper Graves, taking the final score to 4-1.