Honours even in well fought match...........
This encounter had been eargerly anticipated for some time as both teams feel that they have a point to prove. The Classics had severely dented the pride of the Pioneers when they hammered them 5-1 last March and ended their 28 game unbeaten run and the Pioneers started this game in the hope of causing a similar upset.
The Pioneers began the game with 12 players on the field and the referee had to eject one of their players in the first minute. Pioneer’s ‘Plan A’ was gone. In the fifth minute Mike Snow finished off a well built up move when he shot towards the bottom corner but Gary Byrne was alert enough to avert the danger and parry the ball around the post for a corner. The resultant corner kick ended when a Bruce Cook effort was heading for the net but a Pioneer defender headed the ball off the line.
In the 10th. minute Rick Geary was put through and Byrne was called upon again to produce an excellent point blank save to deny the Classics the lead. An indirect free kick near the edge of the 6 yard box was somehow scrambled away to safety but it was constant pressure from the home side and the visitors were weathering the storm well. A long range shot from Alf Deglan blasted just over in the 25th. minute and two minutes later Chris Arcari should have put the home side ahead when he headed wide an easy chance from a Jim Eden corner.
The breakthrough came in the 32nd. minute when Chuck McGill was fouled on the centre circle. McGill took the free kick, which resulted in Geary receiving the ball just outside the penalty box. Geary placed a perfect chip to the top right corner of the net which would could only have been stopped if the Pioneer’s keeper had brought on a pair of step ladders to save it. It was perfection!
Garry Hackel was having a stroll of a game and spent much of his morning brushing up his suntan for his impending departure to Mexico in the new year. He was called upon in one attack and he raced out of his box like the ‘Roadrunner’ to thwart the only attack from the Pioneers. His skill on the ball was impressive as he went on to play a useful ball down the line to Larry Thorlakson before he headed back to the security of his net. The Pioneers did get a corner in the dying seconds of the game but it resulted in a free kick for the home side after a foul in the box. For all their pressure the Classics had to be content with a 1-0 half time lead.
A long range shot from Deglan was just over in the 47th. minute and then an unexpected mix-up between Hackel and Ray Marrington almost resulted in the Classics gifting the visitors an undeserved equaliser but the ball was thankfully cleared. The Classics were visibly waning and the visitors were getting on top and exerting pressure on the home defence. Pioneers were rewarded in the 64th. minute when they scored a carbon copy of the Classics first half goal, one which they fully deserved.
Another right wing corner was kicked off the line in the 67th. minute but the home side were suffering from some unusual refereeing decisions with most decisions going the way of the visitors. Arcari chipped a long range shot on goal in the 76th. minute which Byrne tipped over for a corner but Hackel had the spectators laughing when he commented, "Are you sure that’s not a goal kick referee?"
Marrington uncharacteristically slipped in the 79th. minute to gift the Pioneers a good scoring chance which Hackel saved competently. It was a time in the game where the next goal was going to be the winner and both sides were giving as good as they were getting. The last chance fell to the Classics in the 90th. minute when they were awarded a corner in the dying seconds but the referee blew the whistle to end an evenly fought battle between two talented teams. Congratulations must go to the visiting keeper who saved several goalworthy attempts. I’m sure the story will continue.
Final Score 1-1 (1-0)