25 July 2012
Anderson Park, Coleraine
Wednesday 25thJuly 2012 is a date writ large in Strikers FC’ history. The players earned and deserve the glory from their hard-fought victories of today.
The Juniors played Ipswich Town at 3.30 pm back at Anderson Park in Coleraine. There were major differences between today’s game and Monday’s game at the same field. There was no rain today, unlike the awful conditions the lads experienced earlier on that pitch. There were some clouds in the sky, but they were white and puffy and the sunshine poured through. The pitch was a bit damp, but it was not wet at all and hence the footing was good. There was a light wind blowing lengthwise across the field. The final difference was the result.
Ipswich Town is a highly regarded team, veterans of the Milk Cup, known and respected for, among other things, their youth program. They put a very good team onto the field today in the Semi-Final Match for the Vase Trophy. We began the game well, controlling both possession and territory, and attacking whenever possible.
Ten minutes into the match, Zen Roten scored on a rocket from just inside the halfway line, which caught the left inside corner. About ten minutes later, Ivan Gutierrez scored a beautiful goal on a fantastic assist by Robert Knights. Then it was Ivan’s turn to make an assist. He made a sharp low pass across the front of the goal, which Matthew Gooden slammed in for our third goal of the half. Our final goal came on an interception and an instantaneous kick by Arthur Rietdyk in the early part of the second half. Strikers 4 – Ipswich Town 0.
The Strikers dominated the game in every respect, from start to finish. The defense gave up nothing all day, and took every opportunity to counter-attack. Most of the game was played on Ipswich Town’s end of the field. The victory was a complete team effort in all respects. It was also vindication, as the Youngers showed what they are capable of when playing under reasonable weather conditions rather than monsoons.
The Olders played back at the Broughshane ground today. There was bright sunshine, with only a few thin clouds in the sky. There was a light breeze in the air. The pitch was in fine shape.
Our opposition, as they say, needs no introduction – Manchester United. They have an enormous amount of talent and are obviously well coached. The Man U players are quick and fearless. What can one say about the boys who play at (many say) the best club in the world? Our lads were cognizant of the fact that they were playing Man U in an international tournament that both sides were desperate to win. The Strikers will have a good story to tell their grandchildren a few years down the road.
The game itself was played beautifully. Both sides attacked and counter-attacked relentlessly. The defenses of both teams were solid despite the pressuring tactics of both sides. Man U played more of a long game than we did, but they mixed their approaches during the game from time to time. The writer confesses his bias, but the Strikers had more possession and territory, and they played with composure and poise. Generally, it would be fair to say the teams were evenly matched, and they played a scintillating game for the fans.
Abu Danladi scored first, on a lovely long pass from Robert Sagel. Man U evened the score just before the half. Both teams went from attack to counter-attack throughout the second period. With the half almost over, Man U brought Abu down (in the writer’s opinion and that of many others) inside the box, and a penalty kick should have been awarded, but it was not given. Regular time ended in a draw after an unsuccessful Man U effort off a free kick, and the teams went to penalty kicks.
Both teams made their first three kicks, but Man U missed their fourth kick off the crossbar. We made our fourth kick, and our goalkeeper, Carl Rubschlager, saved their fifth, giving a famous victory to our Premier squad. When Carl made that last save, the stands exploded with shouts and applause – unbelievably, we had more fan support that Man U did. God bless Broughshane.
Today’s victories showed the world what our lads are capable of. The outstanding player was every player on both our teams. They put forth all their energy and concentration, and worked together wonderfully as a team. Today really was something special for our boys.
The Juniors play in the Final Game for the Vase tomorrow at 11.00 back at Castlerock against another fine team, North Dublin SL. The Premiers are also playing in a Final Game tomorrow, this one for the Globe, at 1.30 pm at the Coleraine Showgrounds, against a fantastic team, Etoile Lusitana.