MBMG Bangkok International League Division 2
FC Nova’s unbeaten league run came to a crushing end last Saturday when they found themselves on the wrong end of a 6-2 thumping at the hands of a rampant Scandinavian Vikings team. The defeat opens up the race for the division 2 title with the Scans now 9 points behind Nova with a game in hand. However the Pattaya based side are still in the box seat for the championship and 6 points from their final 4 games will be enough to lift the trophy.
It could be a jittery run in though judging by Saturday’s performance and coach Stuart Levy is in desperate need of strengthening his injury ravaged and depleted squad. The trip to Bangkok on Saturday to take on the Scans saw Levy only have 13 players available at his disposal with a number of those carrying injuries. And although they only finished the game with 9 players on the field, this cannot be used as an excuse for the defeat as the Vikings team thoroughly deserved their victory.
What will be a concern to Levy is the manner in which their opponents exploited their weaknesses, especially in the defending of set pieces as well as a naivety in giving away needless free kicks in dangerous positions on the field.
The game itself started brightly enough for Nova, the extra man in midfield once again allowed them to retain possession of the football and they soon had their opponents camped in their own half. It could well have been a different outcome had Nova managed to convert a number of glorious openings that came their way in the early stages of this game.
First a Roger Cox corner was met by the powerful head of defender Dave Booton before his goal bound effort was scrambled clear off the line only to fall to the feet of Andrew Robinson whose effort was brilliantly kept out by the Vikings keeper. Moments later Booton was again involved, Mark Hill’s free kick saw him arrive unmarked at the far post but once again his goal bound header saw the Vikings keeper produce a wonder save to tip the ball onto the bar before it was scrambled clear.
Soon after Vikings opened the scoring with virtually their first attack of the game; Nova conceded a needless free-kick, the first of many, just deep into their half and the resulting free kick saw the ball floated into the box but keeper Art made a rash decision to come for a ball which he was never going to get allowing the Vikings player to head the ball into the empty net.
It was a lead that should not have lasted long as once again Nova went on the attack and another Cox corner again found the towering Booton only yards out but somehow his point blank header smashed into the face of the Scan’s keeper and out for another corner. The defender looked on aghast and amazed as to how the keeper had managed to keep his third goal bound effort from finding the net.
Nova’s pressure was telling and on the half hour they finally broke the Scan’s resistance and managed to find a way past their inspirational keeper. Cox floated in a telling free kick which saw the ball arrive to striker Bjorn Ellingsen who, with his back to goal, cleverly swivelled before firing the ball into the bottom corner.
The impetus was now with the visitors but they failed to press home their advantage and they once again allowed the home team to take the lead on the stroke of half time. It was an exact repeat of the first goal when they once again gave away a needless foul in a dangerous area. The resulting free kick was swung into the box and the same Viking player who opened the scoring ghosted in between two Nova defenders before planting his header over Art and into the net.
Half time soon came and Levy tried his hardest to rally his troops. Unaccustomed to finding themselves in this position Nova knew they had a real hard battle on their hands come the second half if they wanted to keep their unbeaten league record intact.
The second half saw Nova come out of the blocks all guns blazing and it seemed only a matter of time before they found an equalizer. However they once again failed to capitalize on their opportunities as the Vikings defence held firm.
The telling moment in the match came with half hour remaining. Nova’s centre half Dar, after having already been booked for a rash challenge in the first half, made another clumsy challenge some thirty yards out which resulted in his second yellow card. It was naïve of the defender and it was certainly a foul however the over-reaction of a number of Vikings players in brandishing imaginary cards in the face of the referee and subsequent clapping and cheering after the second yellow card was totally uncalled for and is something you do not wish to see in amateur football.
Nova could do nothing however with the resulting free-kick as the Viking player unleashed a ferocious strike that rocketed into the top corner giving keeper Art no chance.
The ten men of Nova were now well up against it and as they went in search of goals the Scans broke quickly allowing them to soon score a fourth. Nova however refused to lie down and even with their numerical disadvantage took the game to their opponents. With 15 minutes remaining Mark Mckeown gave them hope when a clever move involving Paul Derbyshire and Stuart Cowie saw the ball arrive to the midfielder on the edge of the area before his drilled shot nestled into the bottom corner.
Nova however, already down to ten men and with two players injured on the sidelines, suffered further heartache when Andrew Robinson pulled a calf muscle resulting in them having to play the latter stages of the game with nine men. The outcome was inevitable and despite the heroics of Captain Lee Homer in the Nova defence the Scans broke away to score two more goals and make the final scoreline a rather flattering 6-2 in their favour.
Nova should not get too disheartened with this defeat. The Scans certainly played well, they were fit, well organized, played to their strengths and their keeper had an absolute blinder. In the end it was not to be Nova’s day but they need to dust themselves off, patch themselves up and look at getting a result against mid-table BSL Youth this coming Saturday in Bangkok.
It will certainly not be easy and Coach Levy is in desperate need of strengthening his threadbare squad as they get to the business end of the season. He will be further hampered by the loss of experienced defender Daryl Mann as well as the possible suspension of Dar. He will need to scout around in the next few days for local talent in time to get any possible new players signed on before Saturday’s game. Nicholas Creasey, Mark Dorey and Ben Bryant who all missed the game Saturday should hopefully return.
After a rather sombre journey home, the lads from Pattaya returned back to Jamesons Irish Bar to enjoy the excellent spread of food laid on, but after suffering defeat for the first time this season it probably did not taste as good and the beer did not flow down so well as it has done in previous weeks.