It was slightly drizzling when both teams made their way out onto the pitch on Saturday morning; perfect conditions for what would prove to be a fantastic battle.
The game started with both teams gingerly testing each other’s defenses, both teams appearing cautious to over extend before it became apparent on the other’s formation. No clear chances came in the first 10 minutes with BEC looking to press through the middle, using their height and strength to muscle through, only to run into the stalwart Mosaic back line, and Mosaic looking to break away quickly up the flanks, using the pace of the wingers to push up the sides of the pitch only to be turned back inwards by the full-backs in blue.
The first good chance of the game came to Mosaic as BEC won a corner after a clearance by a Mosaic defender. The ball was whipped in dangerously but could not find it’s intended target and was cleared first time by the Mosaic center-back Tom Murphy. The ball fell to the Mosaic captain and playmaker Gurpreet Johal who played a first time through ball in between the BEC defenders releasing the defending league champions’ top goal scorer Jack Kovacs one on one with the goalkeeper. The goal keeper did not hesitate and rushed off his line to close down the angle making the striker rush his shot which narrowly missed the left post.
BEC had another opportunity to get the ball in front of goal not long after this in the form of a long throw in (a trademark BEC maneuver it seems!). Again, the bulk of the Mosaic pack dropped back in to the box to defend. This time however the ball found a BEC player in the box who managed to get his shot away which was blocked by a body in the way (was he wearing red or blue? Who knows!) and the ball fell kindly for the goalkeeper to collect.
Shortly before half time BEC had the best chance of the game yet as one of their midfielders muscled his way through and played a cunning pass through onto the edge of the box. As it had happened at the other end not long before, the Mosaic goalkeeper rushed off his line and slid to the ground in what can only be described as a 50/50 challenge with the BEC striker and the ball shot out for a throw in. Cries for a penalty were heard, but not by the referee who wasn’t interested.
Both teams headed in to half time 0-0.
The second half kicked off and the game resumed right where it had left off with BEC forcing pressure on to the Mosaic defense, which was well defended, and then Mosaic pressed the counter attack. It was clear within the first few minutes that this was going to be a game won by one goal and both managers started to adjust formations and look to the bench.
BEC made the first move bringing on a young agile winger, a clear change to their current battle plan. Mosaic instantly countered by pushing one of their own wingers up top and dropping assistant manager onto the wing to help cover this new threat.
Both teams continued to battle, every player on the pitch giving everything to stop the other team from scoring. Eventually (around the 80 minute mark), it became apparent that BEC were beginning to tire from the relentless backward and forward nature of the game and Mosaic looked to capitalize on this with a final substitution in the form of Scott Bethell, full time full-back, part time center back and occasional Ronaldo-esque left mid!
He picked up the ball on the left wing and started his run up the BEC flank. He took on the BEC right back with a deft flick of his heel, and forced one of the big center backs to come out to meet him. Again he parried the pressure with a twist and a turn and found himself on the left edge of the box with little support from his team mates on offer. He stooped, he swung his leg high and powered a shot toward the top right corner of the goal…and the keeper got there! His glove slapped the ball off its trajectory only to fall at the feet of the Mosaic right winger. He hit it first time from 5 yards out and the keeper made the save of the game getting up and throwing himself in front of the ball again. What a way to start his Mosaic career that would have been, but sadly not to be the case. The BEC bench and managerial team’s brief look of dismay turned into celebration as their goalkeeper stood up with the ball firmly in his hands.
With 90 minutes now gone both teams continued to look for the goal that they had known all along would win the game. Mosaic pressed up the pitch again desperately trying to break the deadlock. The BEC players weathered the storm and managed to break away with a perfectly timed pass releasing their winger just as the center backs stepped forward in an attempt to trap him offside. The two center backs did well to get back and block the player’s shot, but he had already seen a blue shirt streaming in on the edge of the box, laying it into his path and he hammered it first time doing well to get his body over the ball and smash the ball through the back of the net. An excellent finish to an excellent game.
With the final whistle blowing and BEC winning the fixture 1-0, the title race is still on the cards for the current cup champions, but for the defending league champions the threat of relegation looms..