Buffalo Bannedtu 3, Polonia 2

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Buffalo Bannedtu 3, Polonia 2

Post  Matt Marcin...z on Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:33 am

Joking with the title--if I understand my BDSL history correctly, there is reason to incorporate such a spelling, but as I say, just joking

...And squads have changed.  It's 2016 and Benti Jodi (whom I/we at Polonia faced last year in D1, when he was alongside now-Yemen Elitian Max Chirwa with the Gunners) is the CM pace-setter of this Bantu team.  I recognized him and former Lykan GK Jason Kuczmanski immediately.  No sign of Prince SaySay, whom I also would have recognized.  Otherwise, I don't know much about the Bantu individually, or at least I didn't entering this game.  We played them last year in Tehel, losing 2-0 (with the second goal coming late), and so I thought I might have some idea of what to expect based on that game (despite my arrival around the 65th minute of that one).  

I'm not sure I was wholly expecting what we got.  This Bantu team was really, really well-organized in attack.  Maybe to a fault--they might've done better trying to exploit us a little more in 1 v 1 situations.  One thing I must mention at the outset is that, based on 10 minutes of firsthand exposure from the beginning of the second half (where he was playing left forward versus my typical right back), I consider their most dangerous player to be #24, Adan Mukumbira.  Yes, I see he has zero assists and zero goals to his name this season, but perhaps there's a usage issue here?   After he beat me on a footrace to get to a well-played over-the-top through ball early in the second half and nearly scored, I asked him if he had just showed up to the game, and he smiled widely and said no...later, a teammate informed me he had been playing defense in the first half.  Then, based on what I was seeing/up against later in the half, he might've at that point been trying his hand at midfield...enigmatic usage patterns, especially for a team equipped with at least one coach....

Anyway, let's take it back to the top.  I watched Portugal-France to the bitter end and then departed for the neighboring town of Elma, meaning I got to the field around 5:50 and was ready to go right around 6:00.  Derek commented on my 'tardiness' and I kinda felt bad (I had been legitimately late for the last game vs. Lykan, by like an hour).  I'll get there half an hour early for the last two.  Derek had a point with his concern, though, because we came out a little flat.  The Bantu Twitter account was not lying when they said that the scoreline was 1-0 1 minute into the game (which is essentially how our game v Wolfpack was perceived by then-neighboring Queenston, with the crowd reaction suggesting the goal had occurred off the kickoff or something).  This Bantu goal was really uncharacteristic from our perspective, in that it just looked like obviously poor defending from a team (us) who prides itself on its defense.  They played a cross in from 30 yards out, even with the left attacking corner of the box, and it found an unmarked attacker near the 6, who cleanly found the goal with a header.  Fast, semi-demoralizing start--I thought we were going to need to win this game 1-0 if we were to win at all.  Derek later took the blame for the goal, and he indeed usually clears anything aerial within a 100 square-mile radius of his person, but the cross was driven and accurate and right in the gap between defenders who couldn't do a whole lot--how I saw it.

Going into the game, I thought it was going to be an uphill battle, and the early returns only cemented that impression, so if there was any good from that early goal (for us), it was that it served as personal motivation for me...I thought I had a really good first half, before I began to tire in the second.  So much so that I played the egotist and declined Aaron Andrews' attempted routine rotational sub maybe 30 minutes in.  I had one sequence where I beat two consecutive guys with flicks over their head--pretty sick stuff for a right defender who doesn't do very well in pregame juggling circles.  I thought I came to play Sunday, and even though I lost the ball at the end of that sequence ("IT'S ALWAYS THE THIRD GUY!", right, two Tuesday teammates who may or may not read this), that was a psychological indicator to me that body might be in line with my mind.  

So I enjoyed the first half, which luckily did end in only a one-goal deficit (2-1).  I can't say I enjoyed it when it got around the midway coulda-been-water-break point, though.  George got a bouncing ball played to him in the CM, left borderline defensive third.  Facing his own goal and surveying his options, he called out 'Brian' (our GK)--ok, he might play it back, but when he says this, he's bluffing about 50% of the time.  I've run into George at Seneca Niagara before.  Not in the poker room, but still.  Anyway, this time he played it back...from that distance...and it maybe needed a bit more pace than was supplied.  Had I recognized that as soon as it was played rather than 2 seconds after it was played, I probably could've intercepted it and kicked it out of bounds, at least.  But I reacted slowly, and Brian later told me that he didn't initially see it due to my presence, thus hindering his reaction time.  And so Bantu's left forward was alone in on goal at the PK spot (ish) vs. a GK on his heels at the 6.  Brian must've saved the initial effort, because myself and Derek both had a crack at the rebound that I think was trickling towards the goal...but by that point, head-start to initial shooter, who collected his own rebound and seemingly iced the game 25 minutes in.

At this point I'm thinking that, despite my own personal confidence, we're in damage control mode.  But the thoughts of Matt Marcinkiewicz circa 6:25 PM on Sunday the 10th of July needed revision.  Polonia did not let up--indeed, we probably started to play better from that point until halftime and (furthermore) probably for the rest of the game.  F Justin Bracci had a really good game and he seemingly started to assert himself a bit more around this point.  There were a few errant/shaky plays by Bantu defenders that helped instill some confidence.  I started to think they were more dangerous in attack than in defense.  Benti, although great on the ball, is a bit laborious, and I began to cheat up, attempting to win the ball off him (with some success).  M Mohammed Allen had a strong game at CM, RM, and forward, and he was getting involved post-2-0.  Things were going better.  Still didn't know if that'd translate into anything tangible...

But then it did, on a play I didn't even see, because I was foolish enough to assume their veteran keeper could handle a routine in-the-box scoop.  I turned my back on the play, began retreating to midfield or beyond, when I heard some audible evidence that something unusual had occurred, so I turned around and was greeted with the sight of M/F (slash the slash from the Bantu POV) Dan Helman skillfully finding an open net from a tough angle after an apparent Kuczmanski SNAFU.  Fist-pump--we're unexpectedly in the game!

The rest of the half played out with some maintenance of the then-realized Polonia momentum.  But 2-1 would remain the score entering the 46th minute.

At halftime, I floated the idea of pressuring Benti more acutely.  I think we also fully committed to a 4-3-3 at this point, which we may have already been playing (there was some pregame discussion/controversy about whether a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 was the optimal/not-worst strategy).  

Minutes 45-55 saw Adan unexpectedly occupy the spot across from myself, and he created a couple good opportunities (as previously referenced) before disappearing into the obscurity from which he had emerged.  In BDSL 2019 (no earlier, no later) I promise I'll make a comparison to this usage when I next encounter some similarly underutilized/weirdly utilized opponent.  Hold me to it.  After that, I took a breather for five minutes and Adan did for the apparent duration.  I mentally checked out somewhat during my sub--little to report from '55 to '60.  Cherry Gatorade is my favorite flavor.  Once I got back on the pitch, at left defense, I was up against a different opponent...but so was my right defensive cohort Chris Knauser.  Obviously I demand an explanation from opposing management why they sabotaged themselves so (even as they didn't).

For the remainder of the game, the midfield was a bit more open (as these things tend to go as second halves of second halves unfold).  We were just a pass or a touch off on a few dangerous-seeming attacks.  Or, in a couple cases, just a shot off.  There was hope.  Then, not too long after I'd subbed back on, we had a corner where Justin Bracci received the ball maybe 12 yards out, even with the near post, turned effortlessly, and played a almost-square ball towards the corner of the six back post, where backup GK/F Nick Nenno was waiting for a tap-in into a criminally open net.  2-2.  Let's call it 67 minutes in.

From that point until the end of the game, Bantu had several sustained attacks, all of which fizzled out except for one.  I hate to re-live the one that didn't.  I (at left defense) had begun to cheat to the middle of the field, when the CM on the ball was able to play a great diagonal ball to the wide attacker on my side.  They had done this a couple times in the first half (with similarly pinpoint accuracy) where I was able to recover and 1v1 defend and at least force a square or backwards pass...in this case, the attacker got behind me and (crucially) received the ball in such a way where I would've had to have taken a red card to successfully dislodge the ball from his foot.  Just a perfect pass.  I don't even really blame myself, especially given that the M who'd been on the ball made no indication that he was going to make that pass, and I was therefore shading towards him thinking I'd either have to make a tackle on him or help-defend on a different forward.  So the recipient of the pass beat Brian from point blank range.  3-2, probably 80 minutes in.

We had our equalizing chances, but nothing all that spectacular.  

F*ck.  Just writing this makes me really want to beat Southtowns.  And we will.  I'll Joe Namath this one.  We're better than 11th best in our division and I for one intend to prove that on Sunday.

Great game and GL to Bantu

Matt Marcin...z

Number of posts : 299
Team : Polonia
Full Name : Matt Marcinkiewicz
Registration date : 2013-06-28

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