FC Irlande 2nds
FC Irlande 5-0 Chiefs – Match report
by Sean Gibson
The Battle of Cannae in 216 BC famously witnessed a brilliant tactical victory for an outnumbered Carthaginian army pitted against the Romans, ‘away from home’ on the Italian peninsula. But this Saturday, FC Irlande Seconds were thankfully playing the Chiefs, not the Carthaginians. With no Hannibal Barca listed on the tablet for the visitors, they were in for a tough afternoon.
For where Hannibal had managed to keep his army mostly intact on their march through the Pyranees and the Alps prior to his triumphs over Rome, the Chiefs this weekend evidently struggled to navigate a Brussels in thrall to a mighty force of gilets jaunes. They would begin the game with only 10 men.
Irlande were not particularly disposed to clemency, having been beaten 5-1 by the Chiefs on the shores of Lake Trasimene earlier in the season – but that may have been more to do with the fact that none of the Seconds had noticed they were playing a weakened side.
Ignorantly braced for a full-on assault, then, from the league’s bottom side, Irlande began well. Maintaining shape and playing out from the back amid a howling gale, the lads pressed patiently forward, beginning to create chances and stretch the Chiefs’ defences.
Irlande had much joy down the left flank. A cross from Ben, flicked on by Sean at the front post, found Neil bursting through the middle to shoot first-time and score the opening goal – a gladius through Chiefs’ hearts.
Not long after, Irlande’s centre-back commander Ale orchestrated a second, slinging a long ball over the top to Ben after good work from the midfield to regain possession. Ben beat the goalkeeper in the race to the ball and chipped it artfully into the unguarded goal: 2-0 to Irlande.
Taking similar inspiration to this writer, the referee at half time saw fit to decimate the Chiefs’ legion. Graciously foregoing the usual stoning or clubbing, our match official eventually opted for just a red card – leaving Chiefs to play the second half with only nine men.
With this incident came the dawning realisation of the real number of the opposition; perhaps this was the cause of the subsequent second-half descent into scrappiness. With the Chiefs stricken and desperate, Irlande appeared to have misplaced that gladius from earlier, fumbling around for something else with which they could administer a killer blow.
After several missed chances and fluffed lines up front, Ben eventually obliged again with another smart finish beyond the goalkeeper, putting the more nervous Irlande hearts at ease. Facing defeat, the Chiefs nevertheless fought to the end, keeping the damage to 5-0 as first Lorenz and then Sean nabbed further goals from inside the box.
A solid and energetic win for the Seconds, who showed periods of promising play to end a run of three consecutive defeats against an admittedly weak opponent. No against-the-odds tactical masterstroke was at hand to save the Chiefs; Irlande can now look to more difficult conquests.
Goals: Neil, Ben (x2), Lorenz, Sean
Assists: Sean, Ale, Lorenz, Neil, Hadr
The second kept up their dismal away form on Saturday, losing 7-0 to a decent Union JP side. In a rather disjointed performance, several defensive mistakes gave a load of chances the opposition who never needed a second invitation to score, putting the opportunities away with clinical accuracy. A difficult day, but the mighty seconds will pick themselves up and get their act together for next week’s game.
Unlike some of my more illustrious colleagues, I will trade quality of content for efficiency and thus, henceforth those were my last big words.
On this chilly Saturday afternoon the 2nds travelled to Grez Doiceau, a place unknown to any person who doesn’t live in this little part of Belgium. The team went on this journey in the middle of the country side without many of its key players, including the 6 first players in line for the captaincy. The captain of the day, Mathias van der Neelen was anyway left with a good squad but had to adapt and sacrifice himself to play as a striker, a position he hasn’t played for the last 16 years. He had the strong task to lead the former losers to a second victory in row.
After a short warm-up and a fully respected minute of silence in memory of Sergiu’s baby, the match could start. The team began well and the game was quickly very open with space and semi-chances on both sides. After 5 minutes Gabriel got the occasion in front of the keeper but put the ball on the left of the goal. Grez also started well, with a very well prepared and effective strategy: long balls from the keeper on one of their strikers who would deviate the ball to one of their other strikers who systematically took the advantage on our defense. Very basic move that made us suffer and offered to Grez two good chances to score. Mathias had a good free-kick which was stopped by the keeper. In the first half, another free-kick gave the opportunity to their goal-keeper to shine with a beautiful save. After half hour, the referee took the questionable decision to give a free kick to the opponent, around 30 meters from our goal. This decision was the perfect occasion for Grez to take the lead with a wondeful kick hitting the post before entering the goal and leaving Jack (goal-keeper of the day, replacing our soon to be married Antonio who went for some adventure in Kiev for his stag party, well accompanied by Dastan, Hadrien, John and Pierre) powerless.
This first goal might have been a turning point of the game, and just prepared the ground for the shambles to come, as after this the team lost composure and started to lose some decisive duels. Some minutes later, Grez striker came up with a beautiful move to come around our central defense and crucify Jack with a half-volley.
At half time the team seem a bit stunned but came back with good intentions. Thor came in to replace T-Lion and brought some dynamism in the midfield. Mathias got a good chance on the right side of the box but put the ball way above the goal. Unfortunately, the team progressvely faded, with a lack of concentration and commitment in 50-50s that led to some very dangerous situations. On a foul next to the midfield line, Grez played quickly to bring the ball in our box and scored a third goal. Some minutes later on a corner, a Grez’ player helped himself to seize a floating ball and scored a fourth goal. At that point the team looked at the very bottom of mediocricy but it somehow hit the 2nds players’ pride that decided to finally fight on the ball and give everything despite the score.
In the meantime, Giuseppe came in to replace the injured Clément, bringing Mathias back to the right back position. As we were playing with more agressivity and willingness to win the ball, we managed to put pressure on their goal, or at least approach their box. The many crosses from the sides were unfortunately not precise enough to bring any real chance to score. Alex got the best occasion on a beautful free-kick from 25 meters away that went directly on the crossbar. Later, on a counter attack, a ball to Jake became dangerous and led to an anecdotal fifth goal. Giuseppe had the occasion to avoid the 0 for us but his one to one with the keeper saw the latter taking the advantage and deviate the ball in corner.
This fifth goal was afterall not so anecdotal as it confirmed a strong tradition of the 2nds: when travelling far away, make sure to concede 5 goals. The team has a lot to prove in its next match, finally playing again at home after three consecutive games abroad during which we were only able to gather 4 points out of 9.
After the loss against Pharma last season, the seconds returned this year with new spirits under the lead of comrade Dastan, who arrived ready with a tactical plan that could have brought Italy or the Netherlands to the World Cup.
After a detailed tactical explanation, which felt more like someone speaking in Mandarin for at least half of the team, and after an endless warm up due to the referee being late, this sunset match could begin.
According to supporters feedback, the first half lacked some energy of every player in every aspect, resulting in a 1-0 score after Pharma dominated the first 5 minutes. Even two almost 100% scoring opportunities didn’t end up in a goal this first half, as Lorenz missed a header from good position and John a 1 on 1 breakaway against the Pharma keeper.
The second half started with a different team spirit and a couple of subs, Benji and Nate for Alex and van der Neelen, which made a difference straight away. Lads in green and white were finally showing the real Irish spirit, fighting for every ball and keeping the pressure on Pharma very high, leading to some great opportunities and making it very nice to watch (according to part two of the trustable feedback). Pharma didn’t manage to get dangerous anymore or create any chances, also because of good work from the guys in the back (special mention to Danny, man of the match), which gave Antonio the opportunity for a nice and quiet siesta.
Moving on to the opportunities; the 1-1 began with John going after a long ball that seemed lost and taken by Pharma defenders, however he managed to steal it, opening space and passing it to Gabe, who then returned it to him, only leaving the tap in. A little bit after, Benji got the ball and went for a run along the line, he then saw a chance and with the touch of an angel he went for a high lob on the goal, only slightly missing it. After a wonderful cross by Nate, which seemed more like the perfect gift on a Christmas morning, Hadri headed it in, gratefully unwrapping the present. Towards the end of the game, Gabe tried to steal the MOTM award from Danny by shooting an acrobatic laser, which unfortunately was just a touch to high and hit the post.
Solid win and strong team performance, showed by turning this match around. Definitely room for improvement, so keep it up! And remember, only 8 points away from being safe 😉 Even though we must always aim for the maximum! Forza Irlande
After an embarrasing performance last week away at La Lorraine the pressure was high on captains Gineste and Arditi. The press wrote ‘we have not seen FCI 2nds ever perform as weak as they did today. As a team and individualy the 2nd half was a true nightmare. A team of 70 year old women would have done better’. There were even rumours of Gineste and Arditi cancelling their return tickets from Asia and stay there to look for a new life. So needless to say the team was out for a revenge against the unbeaten Brussels LTC (the author of this piece could not find out what LTC stands for but it must be something inappropriate. Too bad Damien was not with us).
The best of the losers from last week (Gabe) was also not there with us today. But even with him and Damien away a good squad was formed. 14 guys all eager to proof they are not the losers some Flemish guy told them they are. Before warm-up there were speeches by Neil, Ale and Mathias G. Which gave me the perfect opportunity for a quick power nap before warm-up.
Antonio (still with some neck pain from turning around 5 times last week) took his spot in the goal. Fede, described in the press last week as ‘not even a shadow of the man he was last year’, was focused on proving his girlfriend that he do was a real man, a better one than last year even. Ale Arditi, last saturday described as ‘too old to be on the pitch’, also wanted to show that a real Italian is never too old to defend as a master. A good old Italian central defence, a must if you want to keep the zero. On the full back position FCI opted for Belgian talents Mathias N. and Hadri. The later wanting to prove he was not ‘a big liability’ as the press wrote of him a week ago after a game in which, let’s admit it, he sucked. In midfield there was a nice triangle formed by Mathias G (described by journalists last week as ‘a walking hospitalbed’), Thomas (on loan from the first) and Dastan (last week described by the press as ‘just as much an embarrassement as the rest of the players on the pitch). Our wings were made up by Benjamin (not there last week, so he escaped press attention) and Clement (LDH described him as ‘completely invisible’ during the last game). Up front we had Lorenz, also eager to prove he knows how to play football. The press did put this in doubt last week as he went down with the rest of the team. With Nate (not training this week because of ‘pain in the foot’, but just too down and crying after being a loserguy last week) and Kevin (also on loan) on the bench and Neil (another epic loser from last week) as a coach, everyone could be hopeful. The wise and calm Alex made it all complete as a delegué.
FCI started the game in full focus and with the right attitude. From the first minute there was this feeling that the visitors would not take any points with them. Nossegem will from now on be an untakable fortress. This feeling rose when Benjamin send a nice cross to the right side where Clement decided to start one of his runs. Inside the 18-yard box he was tackled, no foul the ref said so Clem (as trained by the special forces) kept on going, the ball ended (via an opponent) up in Dastans feet and without a doubt our comrad launched a soviet rocket against the back of the net. A shock for the opponent and an extra boost for FCI. During the first 20 minutes of the first half the LTC guys tried to break through our defence but the 4 guys in the back held it tight, with full support of the midfield. The last 10 minutes of the first half some gaps were falling but the back 4 survived and Antonio had to deal with 0 shots on goal.
At halftime the ref send everyone inside, this was not a bad thing because it gave Neil the time to give the team feedback. No powernap this time though. Since we needed to keep focus. The second half was not the most beautiful thing to watch as the opponent kept trying to throw long balls but Fede and Ale won every header. And we mostly jut kicked the ball up the field too. For nice football you did not need to be in Nossegem today. But fuck it, winning was what we wanted and needed. Every now and then LTC tried it through the wings but we all know that Mathias is eager to defend everything that is left wing (professional deformation) and Hadri is pretty hard to pass on the right wing for a French speaker. Even with Mat G substituted at half time the formation survived. If before the game there were any doubts on playing the high line, during this game and with this fighting spirit everyone knew the 0 would last. Everyone ran and ran, so eventually exhaustion was finding a home in all of us. But unlike last week we kept giving it all. Antonio ended the game with 0 shots towards him. A first this season (let’s not forget we won the 1st game thanks to his miracle works that day!). Thanks to a diving Ale when he was in a one-on-one duel against their striker, the only time they might have become dangerous. Besides that they had no danger to bring. Our counters lacked efficiency, it would have been nice to have some extra air! So forwards, let’s try to get a second one next time! But it all ended well. A hard fought game, a very fair one (only one YC to both teams) with a happy ending for all FCI-players (this includes what happened in the shower).
I want to end this positive report with some down to earth fact calling. In the end these are just 3 points and it doesn’t make up for losing against a La Lorraine that drew this week (so yes, they were a fucking mediocre team). Let’s prove next week that this week was not a one time thing. But for today: let’s celebrate, break some furniture and fucking enjoy this amazing victory! The league is open!
Let’s forget about hibernation or grizzly bears, that thing doesn’t apply anymore as we are already at the 4th game of the season. And if you’re looking for a m******* deserved victory, well, it wasn’t the cleanest game of our record.
First things first, good old dilemma as you like them: what would you choose between a loss where we played some good and clean football, which could indicate some real good potential for next games, and one of these messy matches that we end up winning only because we literally gave some bodies to bring the 3 points back home, which definitely tells the entire world that we probably won’t win the Champions League this year but we have what it takes to aim for top of the ABSSA 2A league.
Full of confidence with the 5-1 win from previous game, the guys in green were more than envious to show to the rest of the league that what happened the 2 weeks before was just an accident and that they were back on track, facing that newcomer team Union Schaerbeek.
As professionals, the team initially conducted a thorough investigation of the pitch and agreed to qualify it as ‘gigantic’, which was actually an euphemism: as a wise guy said when he was in the X-ray scanner under 5g of morphine (we’ll get back to that in a moment): standing on the goal line one could notice the curvature of the Earth (this is controversial but facts are facts) as only the opponent goalie’s head was visible. The squad consisted of only 12 players, +1 Lorenz all dressed up as manager and +1 Ale who still suffers from his injury but could sub in in case of emergency, like actual emergency.
The game plan was simple: since we expected the opposing team to play mostly technical but without a real physical commitment, we needed to make the ball do the work, simple passes, simple touches, into simple passes, no need to run like Clément all the time. And it worked quite well for the first 10 minutes of the game, even though it was sterile. Danger was created on the wings by Dastan and Clément but conversion to a shot didn’t happen. During this time frame Union Schaerbeek didn’t show anything.
Then, Schaerbeek started to enter into the game and put some pressure and presence in the mid field. Irlande realized that some effort was required in the positioning to be able to get the ball back. But even when the ball was in our possession, the progression to the front line was often rushed and sketchy. The first time we ball was kept on the ground, transferred from Nate to Neil to Damien to Dastan (who was absolutely not offside, right?) into our striker Thomas Peeters who sniped a lovely ball straight to first post. The keeper didn’t even bother to move, he knew: 0-1 Irlande.
The possession game went clearly in their advantage from that moment on, couple of dangerous actions and shots that the defensive line and Jack put away efficiently. On one of the corners we conceded, the second ball ended up around the penalty spot near an opponent, Gabe didn’t want to risk a fault with a ferocious tackle therefore he decided to put his head first and successfully hit the ball, together with the guy’s crampons. After a couple of minutes crying on the floor, he stood up to fiercely exhibit his soon-to-be gang scars and heroically came back on the battlefield. Fede (who, as we all know, is used to draw the attention on himself, considered that he wasn’t going to let Gabe have all the warrior fame) decided to step in and head-butted one of the Union Schaerbeek opponents to clear out another corner.
Minutes after, another corner that ended up bouncing 1m from our goal line, Dastan threw himself towards the ball and also took a generous kick on the leg which allowed our net to keep its virginity.
All that made us aware of the situation we were in, with the frustration of not being able to have 2-3 decent passes in a row to our teammates and the fact that we had to compensate our mistakes by running after the ball. Half-time whistle.
Ale’s speech was fast and clear: they are down one goal and they didn’t run during the first half : we are going to need some third lungs to withstand their pressure for the next 35 minutes.
Weird 5 minutes where the 2 teams were ready to get it over with, waiting for the referee to show up.
Second half starts and Schaerbeek shows open cards: their game plan is full attack, 4-5 or even 6 offensive guys not coming back for defense duties. FCI of course takes advantage of this situation on counter attacks, Clément being alone on the right wing most of the time when we get the ball back mid field. 2-3 huge opportunities where he manages to bring the ball in front of the goal but somehow doesn’t find the right final pass or shot. Unlucky.
Luke subs in for Neil and goes for right back position, Gabe switches side and takes the left wing and Dastan holds the number 10 role.
Equalizer comes in logically given the physiognomy the match has taken. The pressure is still tense from Union Schaerbeek , the ref feels that we are now playing with our guts and gives a surprisingly high number of free kicks for objectively minor challenges. They get one very close to the box corner on the right side and kick it just under the bar out of Jack’s reach. 1-1.
FCI actually needed to stop their momentum not to risk a bad loss against that team that was honestly playing OK but that we should have crushed by playing our standard football. That took some time.
Huge opportunity for them, from a nicely timed through ball their number 9 gets 1v1 with Jack, the latter fearlessly manages to reach the ball just before a massive collision with the striker. Incredible save for FC Irlande from the Gaelic football goalkeeper. The two players are laying down on the ground in pain, medical assistance is asked to perform first aid. Ref gives a 6m goal kick in spite of the hundreds of Union Schaerbeek guys surrounding him pointing at the penalty spot swearing in a dialect only Dastan or Nair could understand, probably. Jack struggles but eventually gets back on his feet.
The real battle was initiated there. All enemy through balls were imperially intercepted by Thomas Earl and Fede, theirs wingers were strongly challenged by Luke and Nate. Everyone one the pitch could hear Mathias Kanté Gineste running all around the pitch dropping his characteristic noises (“tschhhh tschhhh tschhhh”) to ubiquitously intimidate his prey. The two teams were split in two distinct halves, with a no man’s land of approximately 80 meters (remember the objective giganticness of pitch).
And finally, FCI finds a way to take advantage of that, long ball to Clément who gets to the box, casually dribbles as usual couple of guys and gives a golden caviar to Thomas Peeters who shoves the ball into the net. 1-2 Irlande. Holy shit we made it.
At this point the aim of Irlande’s tactics was to somehow throw the ball to the offensive line and, quote from Dastan, “target their corner and keep the ball over there”. That awful plan seemed to stand though, but Jack couldn’t. The hit he took was looking serious, and thanks to the marvelous cold spray from Ale he got back for couple of minutes but couldn’t even walk on his own eventually.
A new keeper is needed; one can hear the crowd shouting “Van der Neelen” but unfortunately our famous keeper (cheers Antonio) wasn’t among us. Pretty surprisingly many volunteered to replace Jack Daniel who passed out: Clément, Nate, Fede. Nevertheless, the ambient panic on the battle field made everyone forget that we actually had a super sub for that extreme very case: Ale puts the yellow shirt on and all his teammates are as confident as you can imagine they can be if an injured guy who hasn’t stopped any ball at training when he plays as goalie comes in as goalie for one of the most tense games ever.
Of course, Ale takes his role very seriously and even steals some precious seconds on the floor pretending to have received a bad hit by the opponent striker. Everyone tells him to kick the ball FAR FAR FAR, he executes a good 50m-long shot which lands roughly to our 18m line (remember the objectives giganticness of the pitch, seriously).
Their long through balls from their half of the pitch continued for couple of minutes, our defense always in position, we kept the score unchanged, and after a 45 minutes long second half (Ale’s watch as reference) FCI got that bloody win, definitely more with the head than with the feet #Gabe.
And indeed, if you were still wondering what choice to make on that dilemma : we showed today that we can f*** a team in the a*** even if we are not in our best day, and that’s what makes the difference between a good team and a great team. Awesome work lads, unprecedented mentality.
PS: Jack is fine, Ale gently took care of him, gave him paracetamol the hospital wouldn’t give him, nothing broken says the X-ray. Thanks a lot for the game man !
Disclaimer: Below there is no tell of hibernation or grizzly bear but rather of a m****f****ing deserved victory…
Once upon a time…In a Galaxy (not so) far far away, the mighty Republic of Nosseghem, the home of the brave 2nds was under attack from the black Ettekijs…
Having been defeated in another battle las week, the 2nds – led by Captain Master Jedi Euan for his last appearance on the Jedi team before retirement in a land where sun (and tax evasion) awaits him- were eager to show some Jedi spirit and get these 3 points.
The battle started well with the 2nds well positioned and organized to block the enemy …After a first wave of attack where for some minutes, the Dark Sidious referee considered whistling a off-sight as the Jedi defense hold his position and the two attackers went for Antonio’s goal before actually doing so…A first warning which would then be put to good use…
The first goal came on a corner nicely shot by Neil where Gabi, in an Umtiti-style header put the ball in the net (in all fairness it is the first time I can actually enjoy the said ‘Umtiti style header)
Then pressure was kept and quickly translated into more opportunities for the Jedis with Mathias Neelen coming from the back post to provide some added pressure infiltrated the defense and went into the box where he was slain (there is no other word for it) by a laser sword and fell on the ground. Lorenz took it at heart to avenge his teammate and destroyed the goalkeeper with his penalty (2-0) while also taking care of his own stats (4 goals in 3 games).
Then, right before half time, came our opponent’s best opportunity with some confusion generated from a spinning ball put their attacker in front of Antonio. He made a first dive that the attacker anticipated and went on his left, just when everyone thought he would put the ball into the net, Antonio brought himself back from the grave and did a second dive that prevent the ball from going in…Brilliant move from our ‘Babababa’ Jedi…and an important one too
Half time saw Matthias N. going out to be replaced by John ‘la mèche’ Sparks who brought his stamina (he is after all the only guy running already BEFORE training) into play.
2nd Hal started bad with our Jedis retreating way too low allowing our opponents to be more dangerous.
Yet another confusion – and the lack of willingness to quickly put the ball away rather than playing it around cleanly – resulted in a goal…(2-1)
FCI nonetheless keep its spirit up and went ahead to regain control of the battle.
In a free kick given by Captain E., miracle (or is it just plain skills) happened: a powerful shot right into the angle put the Jedis ahead with 3-1 and left her goal keeper wondering what happened (some even saw tears in his eyes and him calling his mom)…What a way of performing in your jubilee…We will miss Euan for a lot of stuff already but that free kick is yet another…
The rest of the game went more smoothly with a substitution occurring after 10 min : Neil went out to be replaced by Benjamin who brought more speed into the game.
This resulted quickly into Clement Dilles Bolt doing one of its long run and dribble saga in his right side and sneaky John being there to put the ball into the net once the ball got pushed by their keeper …
Finally, cherry on top of the cake, a 5th and final goal came from a corner where Benjamin – completely free- made sure that our Jedis got the same reverted score (5-1) than last week…
Overall, a strong performance of the whole time, some well-placed pride to show our true spirit after last week defeat, and an amazing performance (and goal) from Captain Euan (you will be missed buddy)
Lots of good stuff to build on for the next games
May the 2nds be with you…
Hibernation is characterised by a state of depressed metabolic activity developed by certain species of mammals as an evolutionary adaption to surviving extreme weather. Most people think that bears also hibernate, but this is, in fact, a common misconception. These majestic Ursine creatures instead go into what biologists call a torpor. During a torpor, the bear also enters a condition of physiological inactivity, but the prime difference is that hibernating animals cannot be awoken by sudden movements or loud noises. The bear, instead, is always on guard and easily brought out of it’s comfy slumber. So tread carefully, when you enter the Grizzly Bear’s den.
Much like the ferocious Grizzly Bear, FCI II awoke from their seasonal hiatus with the voracious appetite of an apex predator, eager to devour the first three points. Fiercely territorial, FCI II were ready to zealously defend their home against any intruders who dared think they could come to Fortress Nossegem, wake up the Grizzly Bear and not expect a mauling.
FCI II’s own torpor was certainly not uneventful. In Malaga, the team pushed the boundaries of grooming by inventing an entirely new category of personal hygiene, which can only be described as “assisted manscaping”. In Germany, things took a more metaphysical turn as the team explored the philosophical contours of the Faustian bargain. In the legend, Faust sells his soul to the devil in return for limitless knowledge. In the FCI II version, the boys were asked to sell something radically different but only for a 3 minute period…
FCI II started the game on the front foot, pressing the opposition high up the pitch and connecting well in the final third. At the back, the combined experience (ahem, age) of captain Ale, Dr Thomas Earl and Antonio, garrisoned the net expertly. On the left of defense, the ever versatile (and well hydrated) Mattias/Mathias/Matthias Neelen slotted in capably and on the right, the marauding Secret Agent Clement Dilles ran for longer than a Duracell bunny. The Frankish duo of Matthias (our other chieftain) and Damien ‘3 minutes’ Lerisson marshalled the midfield masterfully, while Gabriel ‘the Manscape Artist’ Jacqmin had a field day with the opposition full back and John-Simon ‘the white Moussa Sissoko’ Sparks pilloried his counterpart. Dastan and 38 million Euro summer signing Lorenz provided the frontal assault. Neil puppeteered the lads expertly from the sideline, providing a calming influence and wise words to the team.
After only a few minutes, the team showed their intent when the ball broke to Dastan on the left inside the opposition box, his effort, however, went off the keeper and out wide. The ensuing corner found Gabi at the far post. Gabi smacked the ball at the keeper and it somehow went over the bar. Battle lines had been drawn. A few minutes later, Lorenz headed the ball on to the post from another corner. FCI II kept prodding and probing and midway through the first half, Mat Neelen humped the ball aimlessly forward (or, one might argue, he ‘nicely diced’ the ball). It managed to evade both opposing centre halves, Lorenz snuck in between them and deftly poked the ball past the on-rushing keeper. 1-0 FC Irlande II and Lorenz had opened his account for his new team… Sean who?
Union JP, however, steadily grew into the game and began to pressure FC Irlande II. After Antonio made a good save in a one on one towards the end of the first half, they began threatening again with a quick succession of corners. One corner was whizzed in and after a pinball-esque ricochet in the box, the ball landed kindly at the feet of one of their players who thumped it into the net. 1-1.
In the second half, the captains made a series of changes and reshuffled the team. Hadri replaced captain Gineste in midfield and didn’t stop running for the entire half. Benjamin came on for Gab on the left and continued to dazzle the full backs. After recovering from a long term injury, the team was happy to see Alex G back fit. He came on for Dastan and played on the right of midfield. The final change saw Nate Dogg slot in at left back for Mat Neelen.
FCI II started the second half a bit sluggishly as Union JP took control of matters. There were warning signs early on, as they created a number of clear cut opportunities. Antonio made a heroic save from a long rage effort, clawing the ball wide when a goal seemed inevitable. Antonio continued to dominate his area and made another superb save from a cross that almost ended up in the far corner. Union JP threatened once again as Ale pulled down their striker, just on the edge of the box when it looked like he could have gone through on goal. But after a rocky start, FCI II asserted themselves once again as Ale and Dr Thomas Earl settled the teams nerves. Hadri and Damien began pulling strings in midfield and Clement kept roaming forward from full back, combining well with Alex, Lorenz and John-Simon up front. On the left, Nate and Benjamin whipped in some good crosses into the box. As the team began taking control of proceedings, the ball found its way to Benjamin on the left who quickly cut inside the full back and let rip a shot, which stung the paws of the keeper and ricocheted back in the box. Lorenz picked up the loose ball and just before he could pull the trigger, he was summarily brought down by an opposition defender. Penalty FC Irlande II. Lorenz dusted himself off, and emphatically thundered the ball into the back of the net. 2-1 FC Irlande II.
The remaining 10 minutes of the game seemed like it lasted an eternity. Union JP threatened again and again, but thanks to some heroic efforts and last ditch tackles from Ale, Nate and Dr Thomas Earl, FC Irlande II held on to the victory.
And so the inaugural home game of the new season was consecrated with victory and an important 3 points. The star striker got off to a flying start and the goalkeeper produced a man of the match performance.
But most importantly, the Grizzly Bear is wide awake and prowling the forest. Its claws are sharpened, its teeth are primed, and its ready to hunt for its next prey.
Come on Ireland!
All fixtures and results
FC Irlande 2nds
- Captains : Ale Arditi , Mathias Gineste
Top goals scorers
- Lorenz Blanco 5
- Benjamin Benjelloun 3
- Gabriel Jacqmin 2
- John-Simon Sparks 2
- Hadrien Valembois 2
- Thomas Peeters 2
- Euan MacDonald 1
- Dastan Salehi 1
- Neil Servais 1
- Sean Gibson 1
Top goals assists
- Dastan Salehi 2
- Thomas "T-Lion" Earl 2
- Clément Dillies 2
- Neil Servais 2
- Mathias Neelen 1
- Nate Banas 1
- Gabriel Jacqmin 1
- Alessandro Arditi 1
- Lorenz Blanco 1
- Sean Gibson 1
- Hadrien Valembois 1