IUE Calcio – Quona 3-2

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Report by Patrick

After six months away from the squadra for warm-weather training/rehabilitation it’s like I never left; spumante in the dressing room, darts in Finnegans, Presi making speeches and, most importantly, another 3 points for IUE Calcio. The first game back after the winter break is always a bit of a scrappy affair with the Squadra inevitably missing players and gaining kilos, and last night was no different. Nonetheless, we fought hard, made the most of our strong squad and started 2014 with a deserved 3-2 victory against a completely nondescript team whose name I don’t even recall.

After a very Italian debate about whether the game might have to be cancelled due to inadequate self-grooming facilities, we finally got down to business, with a team of:

Ludvig—-Robe—Vasyl—Simon (Martijn)
Julian (Jony)—Gazza—Alberto (Lukas)—Patrick (Ciacci)
Francesco (Marco)
[If I’ve missed anyone out, sorry – there were so many players…]

The game started with neither team exuding much real quality, and we had to deal with an enforced early change when, after strolling around for 10 minutes, Alberto realised he had to prepare the much-appreciated half-time tea. Lukas came on to the left wing and I shifted into the centre, where me and Gazza complimented each other well; me doing the shouting, pointing and clapping, and him doing the running, tackling, kicking and general football stuff.

Amidst the dross of the first 20 minutes there was, however, one moment of real quality when Bomber Martino received the ball from Bomber Garzia at the edge of the area on the right hand side, bamboozled the defender with one of his trademark stepovers, and stepped inside to release a delightful left-footed curler which the keeper didn’t get close too. The goal gave us a bit of belief to play the ball through the space generously afforded us by the opposition, and we started to play a few more quick passes to feet. On one such attack up the left, Simon played a little trick-shot pass inside through his legs to me and I made a dash toward the left had side of the box. Remembering Francesco’s pre-match instruction to give him crosses to his head, I tried to do just that. Naturally, I sliced it horribly, but contentedly watched as it drifted over the stranded keeper’s head and nestled in the back of the net. A goal reminiscent of greats such as Francesco Livi, Jakob Jeanrond, and Ian Woan for Nottingham Forest against Newcastle United in 1995. They all count.

Nothing much happened for the rest of the first half and much of the second half, with IUE looking in control but not creating much in the way of gilt-edged chances. The defense was solid with Cosimo comfortably claiming anything over the top, and Robe’s gravitational field capturing any potentially dangerous through-balls. Gazza was Gazza. Francesco and Diego worked well together, keeping the ball and bringing Lukas and Julian into play for some dangerous forays down the wings.

About 20 minutes into the second half, however, the opposition pulled a goal back on the counter attack. We lost the ball in their half and, while we were out of shape, they took advantage of the space to score. I must admit, I’m not entirely sure what happened with that goal because I was gasping for breath at the other end of the pitch at the time.

A slightly tense period followed when we looked capable of conceding another but, as the opposition piled on the pressure, we launched a counter attack of our own. Ciacci brought the ball up the right wing and got beyond the defence. He shot across the keeper, who made a good save, but Gazza and Marco were in support and Gazza was able to walk the loose ball into the net.

At 3-1 the game seemed surely safe, but there was still time for some late drama as the ref gave them a penalty which, although I didn’t see the incident, I can confidently say was completely undeserved. The curva of Mister Karremans, Tomek, Fede and Ms Gazza were saved from any further tension when the arbitro shortly afterwards blew for full time.

So, all in all not a great match for the fans. However, it was the kind of game that can easily result in dropped points, and while IUE may have a lacked a touch of spettacolo (Francesco’s goal aside), there were lots of very solid individual performances and as a team we got back to winning ways.

This match report is dedicated to Frank McNamara who should have been playing with us but who fell asleep at the gate at Stansted Airport and missed his flight.