Monday, July 6, 2009

Spartans G2: Against all Odds

Favourites vs underdogs. Team of international players vs Spartans. With the odds against Frontliners Spartans, what did everyone expect from this game? The ball is round (and holey) anything can (and did) happen.

Coupled by the fact that Frontliners had what? 7 bench penalties (if my memory doesn’t fail me) and a number of new and inexperienced players, it felt more like a win than a draw for the Spartans.

One of Frontliners few decent goal scorers, Kenny Ng, gave Frontliners the lead through a rebound after his initial free hit was blocked by Ztec’s wall. The goal was greeted by wild cheers from the bench and supporters and stunned the Ztec faithful.

The Spartans’ bench penalties were due to numerous reasons: incorrect distance, incorrect substitution, you name it. The guilty: Captain Jason, Kuan Yang, Steven, Wei Jian, Kenny, Sanjeevan. To be fair, some were uncalled for and Wei Jian probably shouldn’t have bulldozed a Ztec player through the boards while both were chasing for the ball.

Sharron pulled off many of her super-saves again, even catching one as though it were magnetic to her hands. However, a tussle in the goalkeeper area resulted to Ztec’s equalizer.

Half time: 1-1.

Second half brought the same electricity as the first. Both teams tried to capitalize on the other’s errors and Frontliners paid dividends for that when Su Rong, last week’s hat trick hero, sent Frontliners into the lead. The roof of Balik Pulau stadium was blown off when players and fans erupted and cheered for a LONG time.

Apparently the full sized courts weren’t big enough for both teams as players were often sent crashing into the boards. Even Kuan Yang and Kenny had to jump out of the court after running out of space to move.

Anything can happen when it’s just a slender 1-goal lead. Enter no.5, Tania. Oh wait, Algin. He was wearing ex-Frontliner, Tania’s jersey. And the cheers were even louder this time as the unexpected had happened. Spartans were leading 3-1. Ztec called for time out to get things back in place and for Frontliners to do whatever Coach said.

It seemed like the 2nd half could go on and on with Frontliners rushing to the lead early. The defense deserves some accolade for keeping Ztec at bay as much as they could. And Spartans played defensively most of the time to protect their lead, only venturing up for counter attacks

Great Wall of Sparta

but most of the time they barely made it pass the half way line ‘cause somehow people forget the golden rule of “never pass through the centre!”

Frontliners were made to pay when Ztec captain, Oliver was given all the time and space in the world to equalize.

Total non-stop action would be the best way to describe the second half. Shots and saves, running and more running, players sent flying through the boards, bench penalty after bench penalty for the Spartans. The Spartans’ penalty bench always seemed to be occupied.

Somehow a short circuit in Nick’s brain caused him to switch from floorball mode to football mode when he kicked an incoming flying ball away. He seemed to know what he was doing as there were no signs of “haha, I did that!” on his face. Was it legal? It was. Frontliners even got a free hit moments later.

Ztec pushed on and never gave Spartans a moment of peace. With minutes to go, Jo-Wyee, of Ztec 8cers scored the goal which shattered hopes and dreams. Yeah right.

Full time - 3-3.

At the final whistle, it was as if Spartans had won the game. Although they didn’t, they can be proud of grabbing the favorites’ tag by the throat and shredding it into a million pieces.

Captain Jason(left) with Man of the Match, Steven Tay (right)

Steven Tay was voted Man of the Match for basically being the pillar of Spartans defense and even taking one for the team (quite literally) with a ball to the face. Steven was rewarded with a can of 100 Plus. (Unlike in EPL, where MoMs get a bottle of champagne, no such thing here) Kuan Yang was so delighted he even wanted to give everyone one. The same excuse: “Not enough money.”

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