|Posted on May 11, 2019 at 11:30 AM|
Picture courtesy of ESPZEN
Oxymoronically, the Beautiful Game can also sometimes hand out a cruel helping, and Hilderinc FC was at the receiving end when they suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat against Son of the Pitches FC, with games coming at a premium going into the business end of the ESPZEN Saturday Division 2 campaign.
Needing to keep pace with leaders Mexican Aces, who held a point lead at the start of the day, the Blacks, even though restricted by several players’ absence, knew they can ill-afford any dropping of points if they were to keep the title challenge alive.
However, the task was magnified with regular defensive stalwarts, Dionisis Kolokotsas, Glenn Sandhu and Adi Ravikumar were unavailable for selection, though the latter was at the pitchside cheering his mates before heading to the airport.
As a result, the Blacks had to heavily alter the backline with Nicholas Ledenmark partnering Sunny Tharidu, who was reluctantly sacrificed from his usual defensive midfield role, while attacking midfielder, Nabil Zahrif and debutant James Ryall were patch-worked into the fullback roles.
Unfortunately, the limitation did not end there as the Hilderincs had an equally depleted midfield, which rendered the normally offensive-minded Sanil Khatri, pegged back in an unfamiliar Number 6, but credit to the big man; he was spotless in the obligation.
Despite the adjustments, the Blacks were confident off the blocks, and were quick to deal with the immediate enthusiasm shown by the opponents.
Pressing high as usual, the Hilderincs managed to force errors from their rivals but were just shy of applying full punishment as several opportunities which went abegging.
While the Blacks were keeping good command, they were dealt a blow when the Sons took an unexpected lead with an opportunistically struck goal, the only time the Hilderincs were caught flat-footed in the entire game.
Unkind as it was in reflection of the proceedings, with much of the game to be played, the Hilderincs were devoid of self-absorption as they aggressively resumed the offensive charge with everyone in full tilt.
However, time and time again, the Sons resorted to sitting deep and hacking the ball away at the earliest opportunity, leaving the Blacks to repeatedly return into the final third to force the issue once again.
With the stakes high, the Hilderincs were single-minded in their approach, and even after the restart, there was no let up in their pursuit in getting back on level terms despite the restriction to call on from the bench.
Running into the ground, the Blacks were relentless in trying to break through the white wall the Sons had erected, and when they did find their way pass it, the crossbar would deny them twice, with the goalkeeper proving to be another stumbling block.
With 95% of the second period played deep inside the SOP’s final third, it was wave upon wave of black tide, but the Hilderincs, when no deprived by the woodwork, were left highly frustrated by the lackluster referee who seemed to be lost in his own obtuse translation of the offside and advantage rule, but most notably, it was the same official who presided in the Blacks’ another 1-0 loss to Glee Athletic earlier in the season, a game which was not too dissimilar to this on many counts.
Despite doing everything humanly possible, the Blacks who never stopped running and pressing till the final whistle, would end the day unsatisfied with the outcome more than their heroic endeavours, which gave no chance to fault anyone of not giving their maximum effort, because it was in fact quite to the contrary.
While they might have lost the game and saw the gap between them and the top widen to four points after the Aces’ win against TGA Strollers, some corollary from this tie will play out in the coming days, ahead of the return fixture in two weeks’ time.
Son of Pitches FC 1: Hilderinc FC 0
MOM: Sunny Tharidu
1. Gowtham Durai
2. James Ryall
3. Nicholas Ledenmark
4. Sunny Tharidu
5. Nabil Zahrif
6. Sanil Khatri
7. Diogo Baptista
8. Jon Loh
9. Cristian Peligros
10. Ian Morris
11. Nico Olvera
12. Moncef Loukili
13. Aamir Fikri
14. Basil Al Barr
15. Johannes Parlindungan
16. Sathyaraj Rajandran
Categories: Match Day