Tough opener to the new season ......................................
The Classics began a new season - new name - new strip - new logo - new coach and new underwear. What a change! They did look resplendent in their new shirts as they lined up to face Serbia. After five minutes a good move down the right was ended when Jimmy Butler slipped the ball through to Lorenzo Arcari who completely mis-hit his shot and the ball went to safety behind the dead ball line. It was the perfect demonstration of an air-shot. Two minutes later a shot from Pat O'Krane, who had left his defensive role to help out in midfield, brought the best of the home keeper with a good save. A minute later Serbia mounted their first attack and a harmless shot across the goalmouth was palmed away by Dean Herbert for the first corner of the match. A good effort from Pat Rohla in the tenth minute went just the wrong side of the right hand post. Two minutes later a sliding challenge in the box by Larry Thorlakson went unpunished by the referee - in fact he was awarded a free kick in his favour but no-one complained.
The first goal of the match came on the quarter-hour and it was a gem. Rohla slipped the ball inside to O'Krane, who had left his defensive role to help out in midfield, and he, in turn, threaded a fine ball through to Chuck McGill who cleverly slipped the ball to the left of the keeper to record the first marker of the season. Two minutes later United were level after a harmless looking shot deceived Herbert who had moved to his right. The wrong footed keeper was unable to turn back quickly enough to prevent the equaliser, it was unfortunate. After a stewards enquiry: "The reason the ball changed direction was Arcari stuck his Italian head on the original shot, other wise I was in perfect position to corral the ball!"
Thorlakson was yellow carded in the 19th minute after an over exuberant tackle was spotted by the referee. Butler was unlucky on the half-hour after a good run resulted in a shot which was booted away by a defender for a corner. Ten minutes from the half-time whistle Jim Eden, with just his game to concentrate on and no expectations of having to lead by example, was sent to the sin bin after an Edenesque tackle to an opponent. The score remained at 1-1 for the remainder of the half.
The second half was evenly balanced until another forward run by O'Krane, who had left his defensive role to help out in midfield, resulted in a rasper which had 'goal' written all over it. It brought a reflex save from the home keeper who had to parry the ball away. Fortunately for the Classics it fell at the feet of Warren Crowley who hit an unstoppable drive beyond the reach of the despairing keeper. It was a classic Classics goal. Another breakthrough came to the visitors in the 70th minute. Butler was played through on a run which ended with the striker calmly stroking the ball home to the left of the advancing keeper to put the visitors 3-1 ahead. That should have signalled game, set and match. The Classics should have shut up shop. But no! The cavalier in them came out and they kept their foot on the gas instead of consolidating and nailing up the goalmouth. Just two minutes later United pulled a goal back after a left wing break was finished with a chipped shot over Herbert to give the home side a lifeline at 2-3.
Butler was cynically hacked down on the far side of the field to prevent another breakaway which resulted in the referee sending off the perpetrator. Unfortunately for the Classics, Butler also had to leave the field through injury. The resulting free kick was sent in by Rohla but it was harmless. The ball was sent back out to Thorlakson who pumped it forward and a back header from W. Crowley was easily handled by the keeper. Two minutes after the incident it was 3-3. The defence was all at sixes and sevens and a defence splitting pass put through a Serbia player who had the simple job of sliding the ball past Herbert to take a share of the spoils. It was particularly cruel to Chris Arcari who had been marshalling the defence well throughout the game and this one lapse cost dearly. The reporter is not definitely sure but he thinks that O'Krane may had left his defensive role to help out in midfield. Darryl Lawrie won a nice free kick on the edge of the box with eight minutes left but again the Classics were powerless to take full advantage and had to settle for a draw.
Final Score: Serbia 3 Classics 3 (1-1)
Yellow Card: L. Thorlakson
Sin Bin: J. Eden
Crap award: C. Arcari