By: Nick Johnson
The finals for the Division 3 Club League ended in a flurry of goals and several cautionary cards on Thursday night. The Roost won the league title by beating out Old Vintage Peculiars four goals to two.
The match was exciting, with both teams engaging in great build-up play by connecting passes with good movement off the ball, which resulted in a good many chances on goal. Emotions were on high throughout the whole match, and as with the semi-finals, there was a good deal of yelling at the officials as well as other players from both on and off the pitch.
The first half saw some good goals scored by both teams and a number of amazing saves. The half started off with a clear advantage for Vintage as they had six subs on hand while The Roost only had three, and with unlimited substitutions that means a lot. In the opening minutes The Roost was in control of the ball, making good passes while holding possession. Creating more chances and moving the ball around in Vintage’s half resulted in a free kick for The Roost eight minutes in. The Roost’s Cal Livingston took the kick, which he drilled low and hard. The ball took a deflection off of a defender and went into the bottom corner of the net beyond the fingertips of Vintage’s keeper. Afterward Vintage tried to make an impact, but they were only occasionally able to get the ball out of midfield.
Play started to turn around at the 30-minute mark for Vintage, when they finally started to gel and make the good passes that they had displayed in the semi-finals. A good through ball played to Vintage’s Jerry Mullen was put away sharply into the top left corner of the Roost goal. There was nothing The Roost keeper could have done as poor defending led to the goal. Almost instantly after the goal The Roost drove the ball down field, and a great back-heel led to an amazing flick on the ball into the back of the net for what would have been a classic goal by any standard had it not been called offside.
With five minutes left in the first half, The Roost once again was given an opportunity to score by a Vintage foul. A handball in the box resulted in a penalty kick that Cal Livingston put away for his second, making the score 2-1. As the half started to draw to a close, Vintage won two corner kicks in quick succession, putting The Roost on their toes. A venomous header by Vintage was turned away by The Roost’s keeper to keep it 2-1 as the ref blew his whistle. The Roost kept most of the possession for the first half, but they could not get the chances they needed, and if not for two calls by the ref the score line would have looked different.
At the start of the second half, Vintage came out looking like a different team. Their passes and movement were considerably improved, but once a good pass was played they lost possession cheaply. The Roost still dominated possession but could not get the ball down field with passes along the ground as they had in the first half, with fatigue no doubt playing a part.
Vintage was the more threatening side as the half progressed. Their passes started to connect as they kept the ball at their feet more often than not. The Roost stayed in the game with their back line making valuable tackles and cutting off potential goal-scoring runs. The Roost keeper was forced to make several saves to keep Vintage at bay. As time went on, however, The Roost seemed to regain their rhythm and started to create chances.
A red card resulting from a bad tackle saw The Roost go a man down in the 58th minute. The Vintage bench, seeing the tackle, immediately got to their feet and started toward the ref shouting at him as well as The Roost players. Each team circled around the fouled player as the linesman and other officials separated the two benches. There was no fighting, but the handbags were in full swing as both teams screamed and gestured at each other.
The free kick that followed the squabbling was intercepted by a Roost player who sent the ball down field to one of his strikers. Vintage’s keeper came out too late, which allowed The Roost striker to control the ball and play it around the keeper for an easy knock-in, making it 3-1. Only several minutes after the goal, Vintage gave possession away cheaply with a bad pass. The Roost punished Vintage for their mistake once again by sending a long ball to their strikers, which was controlled and crossed back into the box. An easy touch with the chest settled the ball nicely for The Roost’s striker, who then bent it around the keeper.
Vintage kicked off with determination as they moved the ball down the pitch quickly. A few good passes led to a quick strike on goal that resulted in the ball passing through a small hole in the net, which was almost called a goal kick by the ref. Vintage scored their second goal with 20 minutes remaining in the second half. As the play continued the lack of subs and being a man down was starting to show as The Roost struggled to keep the possession they needed to run down the clock. Vintage had several good attempts on goal, all of which were saved by The Roost’s keeper who definitely deserved the Man of The Match Award.
By the 80th minute play was end to end as both teams tried in vain to get the ball forward. Even with more men Vintage could not get the opportunities they needed and the ref blew for full time. The game was very evenly matched and was ultimately decided by two referee decisions in the first half. There were some complaints from the Vintage side regarding the handball in the box, but the ref was right on top of it and made his call.
And as always, after the ref blew each team became friends again, shaking hands and slapping each other on the back. The Roost looked the better team for the whole 90 minutes as they kept possession and made smart decisions that ultimately led to their victory. The game was exciting from start to finish and was a pleasure to watch for those five people in attendance. Next season can’t come soon enough.