Yes so the titles a pretty poor play on words, but hey, some points for trying…?
Here we were, Boca’s first match of 2014 against a solid and an in-form Lions Pilots team was about to kick off. The Stadium lights were on and the weather was a cool 14 degrees with spots of rain in the air. Berllaque had taken a page out of Terry Venables’ and Jose Mourinho’s book by naming his team the night before in a training session at a secret location. The press had managed to get hold of the starting XI and had published it on various social networking sites, the main concern was Pippo not being in the squad due to a back injury but the concern was short lived as we shall explain later. The game itself was a scrappy affair with Lions shading the dominance in the first half. Their persistence was rewarded as a defensive error led to a well deserved opening goal of the match which they preserved till half time. Boca came out firing and equalised almost immediately through Seb. Boca were easily the better team in the 2nd half but couldn’t quite break through the Lions defence and the game drew to a close with the teams level at 1-1.
The day started with all sorts of rumours as Berllaque had announced his team the night before the game, the initial team was Eliy, Nali, Bear, Crawford, Neil, Choni (Sean), Rick, Hamza, Sene, Kow, Seb. But as the fans slowly settled into their seats (I use that term loosely as they’re not quite seats, more like concrete blocks to palank on, but anyways I digress), the fans noticed a wild Pippo warming up in his stylish black goal-keeping ensémble, and news quickly filtered round that he had passed late fitness test and was able to take his place in the side despite not being able to take goal kicks. Pundits and critics alike have come out since the game and suggested that this naming of the team was a premeditated act by the gaffer to unsettle the opponents and making them think we were without our first choice keeper, whether that is true, you shall know when/if he agrees to be interviewed. The revised eleven was Pippo, Nali, Eily, Crawford, Nyall, Rick, Sean, Kow, Hamza, Sene, Seb, the big news now was Bear starting on the bench and Nali being recalled in the place of Sam.
The game kicked off in scrappy fashion till Rick played a great ball in from a wide area which their keeper missed while trying to take a catch but Boca couldn’t capitalise. Kow was then booked for quite a boisterous challenge on their left winger, some pundits later suggested he was lucky to get away with just a yellow. See below for the destruction he caused.
Their free kick led to a spell of pressure and Eliy then committed another foul, this time on the edge of our area and the resulting free kick flew over. His central defensive partner was also in the action as Crofo made a superb last ditch tackle for a corner to deny their striker who would have been clean through on goal. The corner created one of Lions’ best chances as the cross was met by a volley on the far post which Phil saved well and the shot on the rebound was bundled clear by Nali, Boca should be thankful to both as both efforts were destined to hit the back of the net. Boca then responded with an effort of their own, Seb twisted and turned his way down the right and played a simple ball to Kow who fired over in what was Boca’s best chance of the half.
Boca did manage to have the ball in the net from a corner (it seems we’ve been practicing them), but the effort did not stand as the ref decided there had been a foul on their keeper, it looked a fair decision from the stands, and the game continued level at 0-0. Mrs Gaffer however, was convinced that was a goal and thought we were leading 1-0, she obviously didn’t agree with the decision and made her feelings known to anyone who would listen in the stands. She was starting to hurl some abuse at the match officials but the more civil fans in the stands calmed her down and she continued with her fantastic photos. (I might have made that last sentence up.)
The foul/goal seemed to spark Lions into life as they turned the scrappy game to their favour and hit the crossbar in somewhat strange fashion, it seemed a mishit cross at first but the ball evaded a jumping Phil and thankfully hit the frame of the goal. Another good piece of work from Lions down Boca’s left led to a good ball in and a shot which was inexplicably fired over from 6 yards. ‘Taxi!!!’ was a justified response to that shot at goal. That effort was quickly forgotten by all in the Stadium as an extremely rare error from the ever reliable Crofo cost Boca a goal. Crofo had control of the ball in the penalty area, but instead of turning away from goal to his favoured left foot, he cut into the box under pressure from an attacker and got dispossessed. 2 of their lot exchanged passes and one of them fired a shot at goal which beat Pippo. The half time whistle sounded shortly after the goal and in truth, it was one that Boca desperately needed, they seemed to be 2nd to every ball and players were not at the races as yet. Hamza was seeing nothing of the ball on the left side of the pitch, we needed him to see more of it (a bit like Tom Cleverly does for United) to make his usual formidable impact. Some of the fans were close to starting a chorus of boos due to the tactics but quickly realised they had to go to the bar for a larg and the jeers ended there.
A frustrating half for Hamza on the left.
The 2nd half kicked off and the fans had regained faith in the lads (or were drunk), either way, they were loving being Boca fans again. Nothing of note had occurred in the opening minutes till our very own ”racist bastard” was neatly played through and with only the keeper to beat, he calmly slotted it home to equalise. 1-1!!!!! Boca looked a totally different outfit in this half with a few tactical changes and a bit of confidence boosting. Much like the opening goal raising Lions’ game, Boca seemed to have suddenly woken up from their Christmas and New Year hangover after the goal. They were charging around and were getting to balls first and looked like the team most likely to get a winner. Berllaque sensed this and quickly decided to bring Bear on to try and completely take control of the game. he replaced Kow who, after his yellow enjoyed yet another solid game. The journalists who were calling for him to retire in the summer to play futsal must have gone into hiding as he has responded in the best way possible, he’s shut them up with constant solid performances on the pitch. Karlos was another one enjoying a good game, he did well to find space on the right but picked the wrong pass to play and another possible chance came to nothing.
Bear quickly got accustomed to the rhythm of the game, and with no sign of his injury, he went on a little rampage because he was bored, or maybe because he’s Bear. Either way, it was f**king awesome! He chased down the ball and in doing so, made his presence felt on 3 members of the opposition. One of these 3 reacted with a bit of anger towards Bear, but he knew and so did we that he was wearing orange boots with his red kit and socks, everyone knows that doesn’t match. DUHHH!! Bear got a little ticking off for his little rampage, he now knew he was on thin ice for the rest of the game if he wanted to avoid a card. Hamza who was now playing through the middle (finally) was more involved in the game and ran onto a bad header at the back and through on goal. He was under pressure from 2 defenders and it showed as he hit a tame shot which was saved by the keeper. Berllaque was now going for an all-out gung ho approach, Mo replaced Rick and Bosh came on to replace Sean in the middle.
Boca were starting to pile on the pressure and the game was as open as anything. It became an end to end affair as Lions went up their end and it was taxi time for them for the 2nd instance in the match. On the counter, one of their players (he looked like he’d be called Frank), Frank sold Nyall a dummy and it fell to another player (looked like a Tim) who embarrassingly missed a sitter to surely clinch the win. Boca let off the hook by some poor finishing again, it wasnt quite http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jQG73v7X0U but it was pretty bad! Bear then got himself booked with possibly his most harmless challenge in the history of challenges, he was back-tracking to try and head a ball in the centre circle, lost his footing and fell over and in doing so, he unintentionally tripped Tim over. The ref produced a yellow, probably to due to an accumulation of fouls. It was met with some dismay in the stands but the referee had made his decision.
What followed a few moments later was one of the exciting yet gutting pieces of action ever seen on the hallowed turf of Victoria Stadium. Hamza set off on a run down the middle, after a superb ball through from Bosh, 2 defenders closing him down and as they got left behind, the fans slowly rose from their concrete blocks, Hamza unleashed a shot straight at the keeper, the rebound fell to him and as an open goal stared him in the face, the fans’ excitement almost boiling over, Hamza shot wide in one of the biggest footballing shocks since Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano joined West Ham. That was Boca’s chance to win the game but sadly December’s player of the month couldn’t take advantage.
The final whistle was heard moments before that guy with the orange boots booted the ball into the stands at us, he duly apologised for that after he shat himself cuz he saw Xavier tensing up and looking angry. Only then could the Boca faithful appreciate that the whistle brought to a close a very good game with a fair 1-1 result. Man of the Match this week sponsored by ‘Get a lift home in Vishal’s car’ was a tight contest mainly due to the fans not discussing it. It was a tight call between Eliy who had a fine game at centre half, Nali whose passing and tackling was very impressive, and Karlos who just knicked it with his all round performance. Nali revealed after the match that it was the best he’d seen Karlos play in a long while which justifies my reasoning. His prize of a lift home has already been presented to him and hopefully he and the lads can continue the form to fight for the top spots and honours come May. Up next is the first round of the Rock Cup against Sporting on Monday the 20th. This is a competition the fans would like to do well in, in the hope of clinching a Europa League spot to have the chance to visit Ukraine or Lithuania for a glamorous qualifying tie. A cup run would do wonders for everyone affiliated with the club so fingers crossed we start off well.
A massive thank you to Mrs Gaffer for the awesome pictures she has taken throughout the season. At our next game, the fans have agreed to chip 10p in each and hopefully have enough buy you a coffee to thank you for your efforts. I know…our generosity knows no bounds.