FC City A 0 – 5 Monbulk rangers forest
Having made the long journey to Monbulk, City A were rewarded with the sight of a beautifully flat astroturf pitch. From the opening whistle, City moved the ball around quickly, playing short passes down the wings and across the back line. Monbulk pressed the City side hard, contesting every ball and putting body on body. Really using their home side advantage of a perfectly flat pitch, the Monbulk strategy consisted of pushing the ball to the width and cutting in with 1-2 passes. They were quick and had a good first touch, and held their own against our pressing midfield. City had a couple early chances with through balls to Pooney and a volley by Jo which ricochet off the post.
A corner ball against City dropped into the front post. City, not showing the urgency needed, failed to clear the ball properly. Dropping to the feet of a Monbulk striker, it was put solidly into the back corner of the net to see Monbulk take the lead 1-0.
Shortly after, with a feeling of deja-vu, another corner was taken with the ball falling to the opposition in the back pocket. Having learnt from the last goal, Jonny Foo had opted to sit tight by the back post instead of pushing up. Preventing the goal from going in, Jonny put his body on the line to clear the ball, getting taken out by the opposition at the last moment. Going down clutching his knee, it was game over for this amateur sports journalist.
What followed is the hardest game I have ever had to watch from the sideline. Down to the 11 men on the pitch with no subs, City started to lose momentum as fatigue set in. Despite desperate defending and their own fair share of chances, City finished the half 0-4.
Receiving a stern talking to from fill-in-captain Mr Hale, City launched themselves into the second half with vigour. With a couple early chances, City looked on track to closing the score line. Unfortunately, it was again be Monbulk to convert and put the scoreline to 0-5 early into the second half. To their credit City did not let heads drop, and continued to win 50-50 balls and put the Monbulk defence under pressure. As City legs began to waver, they looked to long balls and rushed moving the ball forward. This change in play style ultimately did not suit City and despite getting to test the Monbulk keeper – City never looked too close to converting.
Overall a brave effort by the City side who are to be commended for lifting in the second half and not letting heads drop. An unfortunate scoreline which did not reflect the effort put in by everybody there today. As always, City will continue to look forward to the next round when we play Dandy Casuals at home.
FC City B 1 – 0 BNFC 4ths
The 2s arrived at Mirrabooka Reserve on a grey and rainy day, still smarting from the last minute, against the run of play loss to Croydon in the previous round. Citylife were desperate to register a win this week, but were hampered by last minute line-up changes, resulting in the side only having one substitute. Regardless, City started excellently, knocking the ball around the field nicely and defending efficiently. Andy Lee set the tone early by winning the ball in his usual hard-tackling manner and distributing passes calmly. Several good crosses came in from the right flank early in the game, thanks to excellent link-up play between Shady and Daddy Dave. A couple of these were just inches away from the waiting Wilson, but City were unable to finish.
With the match even, a hard (but perfectly legal) tackle from Andy drew a reaction from the Blackburn player that subsequently saw him sent off. Citylife now had a man advantage, but through the match they found that they struggled to really use it due to the small size of the pitch. Citylife continued to threaten with various attempts on goal, including a shot from Jared outside the box that pinged off the crossbar. However neither side could find a goal until shortly after resumption of play in the second half. Shady picked up the ball on the left hand side of the box and casually dribbled it in before firing Citylife into the lead and all but confirming himself as the recipient of the golden boot this season.
Citylife had a few more opportunities on goal, including a screaming free kick from Andy that also hit the crossbar and an epic run-and-shoot from Winny. However, the score remained 1-0 going into the final minutes. Blackburn then threw everything at a Citylife defence that had so far defended very well, but were starting to tire. However, Winny, Collin and Paul in particular stepped up with some excellent challenges, ensuring that the game ended as a Citylife victory. Citylife B had successfully thrown off the shades of the previous round, and this time found the 3 points against a gritty opposition, while playing a very neat passing game. It was a hugely commendable effort and one that will set the 2s up for a strong finish to the season.
FC City Legends 0 – 3 Berwick cruisers