With a re-scheduled game and an opponent that couldn’t field a full team in the first two weeks, our season had started with more stutters than ScumMo’s election campaign. So round three felt kind of like the start of the season.
Like most of the Beachside team, I hadn’t played for a while so was unsure how the body would hold up and how much touch I might have lost.
Phoenix looked by far the better prepared and more organised, and had a big squad changed and out on the ground warming up well before Beachside emerged from the change rooms still discussing positions in the final minutes before kick-off.
The game began and Phoenix had most of the ball in the early minutes. Playing with composure and structure they used overlapping running to attack down the flanks, with Joe Sundram making a number of dangerous runs on the left wing. Fortunately Dan was always there at the start of any danger (If you’re wondering whether I would really put a pun like that in my report deliberately, the answer is yes- yes I would), getting a foot or body in to stop the attack.
It took about five to ten minutes for Beachside to click into gear but once they did, the change in the game was dramatic. Passing out of the backline began to hit the feet of our midfield and forwards. Boy George and Kappa were looking dangerous up front and began to create more chances the longer the half wore on.
Some quality saves by the Phoenix keeper and a couple of goal-line clearances kept the score at nil-all until Boy George finally put Beachside in front with an excellent headed goal. He could well have had another couple soon after but for some poor finishing. Kappa had been laying off shooting opportunities like Telstra lays off workers and after the third chance he gave to me I finally managed to keep one on target to double the lead.
Phoenix tried to work their way back into the game and began to look more dangerous late in the half, with the evergreen Jason Harvey showing he can change direction quicker than a Tony Abbott policy position. This might also have been helped by Beachside’s lack of subs (and fitness), with Boy George already off injured and only 11 ‘fit’ (and I use that term with some hesitation) players. However late in the half, Rough Pull’n steadied the beach, taking the ball the full length of the field and beating the keeper from close range to make it 3-0.
It was a pretty hot day so half time came as a relief to both teams. Phoenix changed their structure, and came out stronger after the break. As with the first half, Beachside were forced to defend early, but soon began to take control again. Simon and Xavier extended the lead with a pair of goals in quick succession that effectively sealed the result. Beachside began to attack in greater numbers for a time, with players queueing up around the 18 yard box like ambulances at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
The hard working Phoenix defence and excellent keeping stopped a flurry of attacks, helped by the fact that my shooting had all the accuracy of Josh Frydenberg’s economic modelling (at least I hit my target once- unlike our Treasurer), but they were beaten by a pair of headers from Kappa and Simon.
Phoenix continued to fight to the end and began to fashion more chances in the final stages of the game, but with Dover winning everything in the air and Duffman, Samwise and Rough Pull’n cleaning up at the back, they were never able to break through.
The game itself was a pretty enjoyable hit-out, played hard and fair with some decent passages of football from either side. With a couple of weeks off before the next game, the Beachside ‘strength and conditioning staff’ have some work to do to get a number of sore players back to full fitness and a number of players showed their professionalism by heading back to Kappa’s for a hydrotherapy recovery session.