Grumblings about overlapping fixtures framed the Stripes Monday night football; with the Långholmen R1 team facing a pivotal top of the table clash the 1st team squad was down to the bare bones. Not that it mattered that much really; the referee at Stadshagen ensured that the game never got out of second gear and for all the huffing and puffing it ended all square. Still good to see LFC legends Robbie Graham and Deri Thomas donning the shirts, as the average age of the first team peaked for the season. I say shirts… actually it was bibs, since the referee’s first moment of brilliance was to decide that he could not tell the difference between black and blue. So the stripes donned fluorescent bibs of the kindergarten kind…
Vasasällskapet are a team of big units. But they collapsed like a house of cards in the tackle and some of their theatricals were shameful. Apart from a long ball they don’t carry too much of a threat but they equalled a rather lackluster Stripes in the first period. Both teams created few clear cut chances, as Långholmen struggled to get a foothold in the game. Passing was hurried and sometimes forced, and when they did get behind the Vasa the final ball needed just a bit more quality.
When Wille Karlsson switched to the right wing, he immediately started to have a bit of joy; providing width and pace that troubled the rotund home defence. A couple of times he got behind them and one cross to Allen at the back post provided the best chance of the half. Allen’s header fizzing just over the bar. The 19 foot 27 stone Vasa forward then put a header against the top of the bar from a corner, but Ben had it covered.
By this time the referee had booked five or six Långholmen players for a variety of inocuous enough challenges. Any flow or rhythm to the game was completely destroyed and both sets of players were left scratching their heads. He bizarrely booked a Vasa player before the beginning of the second half too, for an unidentified misdemeanor that no one could quite understand. The game needed a goal, and Vasasällskapet delivered it from their fourth or fifth corner of the second half. A deep cross to the back post was volleyed back through a sea of legs to squeak inside the near post. Soft.
This was the kick up the ass that the Stripes needed, and from that moment on they dominated. They were much sharper all over the pitch and started to really hurt the tiring home team. Wille played a blinder on the right wing, defensive pairing of Sund and McClelland looked very solid against formidable opponents and Chris Allen was a constant threat. The ref was still whistle whistle whistle; every solid challenge was penalised and he was dishing out cards like Clinton’s so it was hugely frustrating experience for the players and fans alike.
The Stripes were chasing the game. They had their tails up, and had turned the momentum of the game firmly in their favour. After sustained pressure, a couple of half chances and good blocks by the keeper, Paul Sullivan slipped a lovely ball in to Chris Allen who took a touch before tucking the ball away on the angle. Tidy. With 15 minutes to play it felt like the Stripes could go on to win it. Sadly the ref had other ideas; Pete McConnell was given his marching orders for a second yellow (for a ball winning challenge in the opposition 18 yard box) when the linesman had actually already flagged for offside. Speechless.
Down to ten men, the stripes continued to swarm forward and Deri Thomas had the chance to seal the win when the ball broke to him inside the box. It was a sharp chance and the keeper did well to block with his legs. In the dying seconds a through ball caught the home keeper (another giant of a man) out of position, and when he collided with Thomas in a 50:50 outside the box the ref whistled and gave the advantage to Vasa with the unguarded goal at the Stripes mercy. It was a horror show, and the Stripes did well to maintain their composure and take a point home.
Overall, disappointing to only get a draw, especially after a strong second half performance. But something to build on as Långholmen look forward to entertaining old rivals and league leaders Ekerö at home on Saturday. A result there will certainly put a shine on the season and build confidence going into the Stockholm Cup semi final on the 7th September. All to play for.
Ben (GK); Ahmed (LB), Sund (D), Mcclelland (D), Karlsson (RB), Sullivan (CM), Harkness © (RM), Phillips (CM), McConnell (CM), O’Sullivan (CF), Allen (CF). Subs: Graham (85), Thomas (60)
MOTM – Wille Karlsson; Stella performance, and the best looking player on the pitch.
Ref Watch – Ruined the game. 0/5
Långholmen FC’s next league game of the season is on Saturday 3rd September at Essinge IP against Ekerö FK – KO 14:00.
Hope to see you there.