|Posted on March 21, 2020 at 11:40 AM|
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After going through an entire campaign of ego-bruising and morale sapping run, longsuffering Hilderinc FC, who had been critically restricted by injuries and unavailabilit-ies to key players in this time, belatedly put a display of an apposite Division 1 side, though the final result would be hard on the battling Blacks as they fell just short against league runners-up Honey Badgers FC.
Having been given a rude awakening in their first game of the season back in August, when the Hilderincs fell to their biggest league defeat in their history, an ignominious feat which was repeated twice in the following months in a dreadful debut in the top flight of the ESPZEN Saturday League, the Blacks were decidedly determined to learn from the lessons of the reverse fixture, especially when they had most of the players back in the fold, in addition to four recent recruits, in a what was the most complete squad in nearly 10 months.
Despite the eccentric backstory to this tie, which was twice rearranged due to the Blacks’ privation, the Badgers who, a month ago, elected to postpone the fixture rather than take a walkover win after the Hilderincs decided to forego a game for the first time in their history, turned up with a professional approach without any tetchiness.
Within the first minutes, there was a sense that it would a more competitive game than the previous one as the Hilderincs looked a lot ready this time around.
Keeping to the playbook, the Blacks were stoic against the expected attention, while causing discomfort at the other end, as they tried to trouble the Badgers’ stand-in goalkeepers.
In a more even game, the midfield found most action has both sides tried to get one better of the other in a tense showdown, and though the Badgers would come close to the opener, the Hilderincs’ backline remained un-breached.
However, for all the hard work, a rare tardiness in reaction allowed the Badgers to take advantage and score just before the first quarter. Remarkably the Blacks were already five down at this point of time eight months ago.
After some choice words and a slight alternation to a system that had proved operational, the Hilderincs increased the tempo in search of the leveller before the break, and while they were more industrious, the Blacks were equally fortunate to remain only a goal adrift after the Badgers failed to capitalise on their chances as HFC exposed themselves overly in their forward pursuit.
The Hilderincs were a different beast in the second half as they collectively harassed and chased down everything that moved around them.
It took them a little under 3minutes to register their intentions when debutant, Madalin Foghis sent Ian Morris through with a delightful through pass, but having retrieved the ball from an acute angle, the skipper’s cross was finger-tipped by the goalkeeper to deflect the ball away from the head of the Romanian who had positioned himself to finish off the move he had initiated.
After a phase of who blinks first in a midfield scrum as both sides went toe to toe in a chess match of sorts, the Blacks renewed their chase as they hunted like a pack of wolves in the final quarter of the game.
The Hilderincs thought they had pulled level in the 60th minute when Dionisis Kolokotsas’ long punt prompted a chase in the penalty box, and with Ian Morris blocking a clearance into the path of Diogo Baptista to toe poke the ball, which beat the goalkeeper, but crashed against the upright before being put out to safety.
It was relentless final 20minutes for the men in black as they pulled all the stops to get that elusive equaliser.
With the clocking running down, the Hilderincs were awarded a freekick and with Nico Olvera’s deadball prompting another reflex save from the Badgers keeper, Dionisis Kolokotsas’ follow up rebounded off the same post while the efflorescent Kieron Burrell’s attempt was hacked away in a goalmouth melee.
And seconds later, the Blacks looked to have won a penalty when the referee pointed to the spot after Nico Olvera was bundled over, but astonishingly he reversed his decision in irrational fashion to hand the opponents a freekick instead after a scuffle, leaving the Hilderincs perplexed at the rational of taking away an initial verdict as a possible “reprimand” for the scrap. Not sure if that is even in the Referee’s Handbook or Laws of the Game.
Although the Hilderincs would have benefitted from at least a draw for all their endeavours on the day, especially with the overturned penalty call, the underlining objective was to build the momentum for the final game of the season next week against Athletic Uncles, and a win against the bottom-dwellers will ensure they will avoid the drop to have another shot to prove that they are indeed a Division 1 team, more so after their performance today.
Note: Hilderinc Football Club would like to appreciate the Badgers again for the opportunity to the game.
Hilderinc FC 0 : Honey Badgers FC 1
MOM: Kieron Burrell
Yellow Cards: Nicholas Ledenmark, Nico Olvera, Mark Allen
1. Christopher Mark
2. Mark Allen
3. Dionisis Kolokotsas
4. Nicholas Ledenmark
5. Sunny Tharidu
6. Adi Ravikumar
7. Melvin Sathananthan
8. Kieron Burrell
9. Nico Olvera
10. Ian Morris
11. Madalin Foghis
12. Dery Purwandi
13. Diogo Baptista
14. Fahmy Barker
15. Koh Kah Hoong
16. Marc Trotter
17. Samuel Lalramnghaka
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