I actually haven’t seen a game of soccer live since Tony Abbott was promising to sit on the backbench without sniping and undermining his successor (must have been another non-core promise), but I finally got the chance last weekend and really enjoyed it. Games between Taroona and Beachside have a history of being closely fought, so I was optimistic as I arrived at Sandown Park under low clouds that were as grey as the AFL’s new third man up rule.
Beachside pressed from the start and did all the attacking in the first few minutes. As early as the first minute, Whitehall won a corner and Fisher’s header went narrowly wide. Beachside kept up the pressure and it was another corner- taken quickly to Whitehall at the edge of the box- that opened the scoring when Pearce won the header and knocked it past the keeper to give his side the lead.
To Taroona’s credit they managed to settle. Beachside were looking very dangerous on the flanks with their ball use and running, but they were largely contained by the efforts of the Taroona backline, especially Johnson who was excellent at right back. Once the defence was settled, the team as a whole began to work its way into the game more.
Beachside looked to relish the physical contest and tended to have the advantage when the ball was in dispute. Andrews in particular played with the aggression synonymous with United Airlines and was rarely beaten for the ball. By contrast, Taroona’s pace looked dangerous on the counter. A high bouncing ball from the right eluded the Beachside centre backs and Mizuno was first to the drop, hitting it on the volley from outside the edge and giving Siedler no chance to save as it whistled into the top corner.
The game was more even now. Some of the one touch passing from both teams was quite exquisite. Beachside looked to have more likely avenues to goal, but Taroona looked to be more organised in defence and to be running harder, especially Hazlewood, whose work rate was exceptional.
Andrews restored Beachside’s lead from the spot after Whitehall was brought down and Bevan almost made it 3-1 after a tremendous diagonal pass from McDonald. But his shot was blocked and Taroona equalised soon after. Mizuno took possession of the ball at the corner of the box and dribbled parallel to the goals, eluding several tacklers before putting another well placed shot into the right hand corner.
Beachside may have felt a little hard done by to not be ahead at half time, having had a few more chances, but Taroona were worth their share of the lead.
After four goals in the first half, the second half tightened up like my hamstrings in winter. Whether it was pressure or fatigue, both teams struggled to hit their passes as well as they had in the first half and their were also a lot more heavy long balls going through to both keepers and giving forwards little chance to do anything. Fagg and Mizuno each had goal bound shots saved by the respective keepers, but other than that the game got a bit scrappier with a lot of attacks breaking down quicker than Peter Dutton’s lies under fact checking.
A missed clearance from the Taroona defence fell to Whitehall and proved to be as costly as Glenorchy City Council’s credit cards. The Beachside forward’s first time shot was struck perfectly from well outside the box and burrowed into the side netting.
Thurley came on for McDonald with about twenty minutes to go and within minutes was presented a beautiful opportunity by quality interplay between Pearce and Whitehall. Perhaps not quite settled, he blazed over the bar from close range leaving Beachside with only a one goal lead to maintain.
This lead could have been cancelled out again shortly after, but Siedler was quickly off his line and beat Mizuno to the ball at the edge of the box. Taroona pressed for an equaliser in the final minutes but were unable to create anything with more impact than a celebrity divorce (memo to the rather ironically titled news.com, they’re really not news).
The final score 3-2 in Beachside's favour (in case Scot Morrison or someone else that can't count is reading and hadn't worked that out for themselves) in what was an entertaining game that was played at a higher skill level than I remembered. Hopefully I can get along to another game soon.