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If moral victories were worth points in the standings,
Bernie Ward would be a two-time manager of the year.
Yes, it was another good effort by Coveside against a top-flight Div. 1 team, yes it was close, and yes it was wet. But the end result was still a 2-1 loss to Freybe, Coveside's third loss in a row after five wins to open the season.
As tends to be the case when it's wet and we're on dirt (sort of like Bernie's love life at Long Beach) the numbers were down once again. Paul Kellor, our Man of the Match - he narrowly beat the sack of potatoes - was in the States, Ryan Matches was practicing his softball swing at a batting cage (indoor of course), Mark Docherty was in Vegas playing with Russ Hennessey's one-armed bandit, Jason Fisher was left at the bus stop (someone gave him a transit pass, but he didn't know what to do with it), while Mike, Rob and Amar continue to clog up the injury list.
Shifting back to a traditional 4-4-2 Coveside started the game on their heels. Freybe's strategy was clearly to shoot from everywhere, and shoot often, as they'd obviously picked up on the scouting reports from around the league on the CUFC keeper.
Freybe had several close calls, and Al Roberts usually lengthy goal kicks were barely clearing the 18 after taking 25 of them in the first 10 minutes. The back line worked admirably in markedly sloppy conditions though, and were as tight as the hoops on Brad's jersey. Randy Ash had his usual compliment of solid tackles and Bryn and Harp were fearless around the box. Craig Larson's speed was slowed considerably by the riptide moving from north to south right down the middle of the pitch, and it turned into a bit of kick and run. Or actually, just kick as Bernie made his long-anticipated return after Larson needed a blow.
Bernie did a fantastic job, if you're a foosball player, standing in one spot, spinning around and belting the ball upfield. Still it was nice to have his skills on the pitch and he made several sharp passes that created some chances up front. Hard work by Dave Woods and Sean Bartlett in the air also opened up a few chances as the Freybe defence and goalie almost got caught out playing around with it. Andy Dudley created several chances with great tackles and a good counterattack.
Just 10 minutes before halftime CUFC got burned as they pushed up, a long through ball up the wing saw the forward cut in, and make a perfect cross to a streaking teammate who knocked it easily into the empty net. 1-0. At halftime the lads seemed a little down, after five scoreless halves, Bernie was considering bringing the Log from Long Beach on as a sub, it seems sitting on the log in a Celtic kit is the only way anyone from Coveside can score.
Al rallied the troops reminding them we were still in the game and that the effort was good. Coveside then took over the game for long stretches of the second half. Craig had a couple of strong runs ruined by the conditions. On one, he beat the defender outside and looked primed to test the goalie from a good angle, only to have the ball get stuck and swim away in the creek that was getting ever-deeper in the downpour.
As Coveside carried the play their frustration levels grew with their inability to score. Randy Johal thought about a bicycle kick before turning and getting off a good shot; Harp Dhaliwal, who had another stellar day in defence, jumped up into the play and hammered a long shot that just curled past the junction of the post and the bar, and Karim Ismael moved the ball up well to the forwards and had a couple of long-range rockets just miss as well.
Even Brad got into the mix as he found space and had some good chances, one that went a good 30 yards over the bar though brought out the Chris Farley in him, as he punched himself in the head with both fists ('Member when we had that game against Lynn Valley, and I scored twice, 'member? Stupid, stupid, stupid). He's listed as day to ay with a concussion. With about 10 minutes to go the game hinged on a key sequence of plays. Craig picked up a loose ball which he headed past the charging goalie, as it skipped over the keeper's hands, he saw Craig running past him to knock the ball in the net, he enlisted a straightarm that knocked Craig to the ground. For the second week in a row, cries for a penalty were ignored (the referee said he went down "too easy" hold your Russ and Mark jokes please). But the double-whammy came as the goalie collected the ball, hoofed it downfield and set up a breakaway for a Freybe forward who's shot was weakly palmed into the corner of the net by the keeper, 2-0.
Downcast for the next five minutes, Coveside got back into it off some great work by Karim as a ball was played over to Brad who hammered one home into the empty net to break CUFC's scoreless streak and get us back within one. For the next five minutes we scrambled to get more pressure on, but Freybe defended in numbers and snuck out with a 2-1 win.