It generally pays not to think too much about the opposition before kick-off. Without wanting to get to reach mind game levels of Fergie and Wenger proportions, it’s worth noting that you can easily talk yourself into and out of a win before the referee has blown for the captains to shake hands and call the coin toss.
You can look up your opposition’s recent form, but all you really get is numbers on a webpage. The final score will only tell you about the match’s most important statistic, but absolutely nothing of its character (hello, Brendan Rodgers).
Noting that this weekend’s opposition were a Div 1 side, for a friendly match while Capital Football finalises the competition rounds, we steeled ourselves for a tough game. It’s always difficult to judge the gulf between divisions.
But I can’t help but wonder whether said opposition, Kapiti Coast Reserves, had glanced over at our less-than-enthusiastic warm up (in mitigation, your Honour, we were still a little sore from training) and thought they had it won already.
So imagine our surprise when we went 1-0 up in the first minute, after they kicked off. A deflection saw the ball drop in front of my fellow forward, Claire, who flicked it to me as I hovered on the shoulder of the last defender. Expecting the opposition to at least close me down, I was surprised to find… nothing. Nowt. Nada. The defence just stood back. Perhaps they thought I was offside; but at the very least I was expecting someone to try challenge me for the ball.
The experience had a touch of 1950s English training ground about it, where teams would line up, in their full kit, and take on… no one. They were expected to execute their normal strategy, but without the pressure of an opposition. It wasn’t the most effective approach to training and, as it turned out, not the most effective approach to defence. I just went with it, and looped the ball over the keeper. Goodbye goal drought, hello one-goal lead.
The first half became a tit-for-tat affair, with Kapiti equalising and then going ahead, only for Claire to pull us level again. We were certainly in the game, moving the ball around with more ease than we had done over the last few weeks, with our rhythm only disrupted by the halftime whistle.
I won’t go into the second half, or the final score (the committed and curious may find it on Capital Football’s website, if it is so desired) in much detail. Suffice to say we lost our way for most of the second half.
I know it’s only a friendly (so friendly, in fact, that one member of the team was overheard introducing herself to an opponent, saying “it’s nice to meet you!” during the game… not that anyone’s owned up to it, of course!), that the result doesn’t count towards the end of the season. But a heavy defeat’s never ideal.
Just remember, it was 1-0 after a minute, and 2-2 at half time. The website won’t tell you that!
Categories: Diary of a Social Footballer
Waiheke Islander currently in exile in Wellington. Supporter of Nottingham Forest and England, through thick and thin (there's been plenty of that). As a player is somewhat averse to the offside rule.