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Archive for October, 2011

Spirited Stripes dump IFK Österåker out of Stockholm Cup

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Arthur Ashe once said that true heroism is remarkably sober. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost. This sentiment more than most captures the essence of Långholmen FC spirit. Against all the odds, on the foreign fields of Åkersberga, this spirit came alive, and dramatically defeated champions IFK Österåker 1-2 in the first round of the 2012 Stockholm Cup.

The long drive out to cow country was spent huddled around Wales’ agonising defeat to France in the RWC semi-final. The twelve players pulling on the stripes for the afternoon vowed to show the same brave commitment against a supremely confident Österåker side – a team that will strut about in division 3 next season after running away with the Div 4 North title.

Many commentators had already written off the Stripes; a number of last minute withdrawals and the absence key players gave the 1st XI a rather unfamiliar look. This gave a welcome opportunity to the title winning LFC Reserve team to step up and prove their credentials at the higher level – an opportunity grasped with both hands (and feet).

Defensive discipline was the name of the game for LFC, Manager Stuart Lascelles rolled back the years with a cultured performance at the heart of a 4:5:1 formation. But truth be told, the first 20 minutes of the game were by far the worst for Långholmen; overzealous and thus stretched by the slow-slow-quick passing game of their slimy opponents.

Österåker threatened, and eventually broke the deadlock after fifteen minutes with a textbook move executed with consummate precision. The spritely #7 latched onto a ball inside the fullback, and his pinpoint cross was deflected in at the near post. A shaky start and the travelling fans (one man and his son) could have been forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a long old afternoon.

But some frank words, and astute tactical management steadied the ship. The Stripes were happy to concede possession and defend deep, which confused their young adversaries into over playing. As stalwart Robbie Graham summed up afterwards “they were more interested in looking good, than playing football”.

The Stripes got a grip and started to put their foot in – this was a physical game; not only was it knockout cup football, but also because of the history between the teams from 2009. The ‘Alain Rolland’ reached for his pocket on numerous occasions in a feisty twenty-minute spell, booking four Stripes for colourful language, one for shoving and another for a leading elbow. But there was a sniff of something positive to take from the half. Leo was running the show on the left, Andy Mac had started to force himself on the game and you just know that Oscar always has a goal in him.

Trudging off at halftime, heated conversations with the ref suggested that Långholmen were less than happy with the official’s handling of the game. Truth be told, LFC needed to find another gear if they were going to be playing in the Stockholm cup next year.

The Stripes emerged unrecognisable from the first period. Their shape was perfectly balanced; disciplined in defence and potent on the counter attack. With only 35% possession they frustrated their opponents by working incredibly hard as a unit, closing down tirelessly, not giving their six-fingered foe any space to play at the business end of the pitch. Credit to the whole squad – everyone played their part. At one-nil you always believe you’ve got a chance, this was the time for big hearts, and nobody went missing – to a man the Långholmen team fronted up.

The pivotal moment arrived farcically on 60 minutes; O’Sullivan pounced on a loose ball in midfield, played a one-two with Ludde on the edge of the box and collapsed under a clumsy challenge. He thought it was a penalty. So did everyone else, except the ref who waved play on. Bizarrely one of the home defenders assumed a stoppage in play and calmly picked the ball up, conceding one of the most absurd handball penalties in history. After all that excitement O’Sullivan stepped up and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot. 1:1.

LFC pin-up Chris Allen deserves a special mention for a highly accomplished display in goal. His all round performance oozed confidence, which spread to the defensive unit in front of him. Both handling and kicking was immaculate and he made a string of difficult saves look easy. The pick of the bunch being a diving one-handed reaction save that was reminiscent of Gordon Banks in the 1970 world cup against Pele. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvqwhDUhkPA. This was followed by a comical red-faced rant at his faceless defenders and much clapping/spitting into gloves. Quality.

The stripes were inevitably reduced to 10 men with fifteen minutes to go. Ludde Johnson picking up a soft second yellow for blocking a quick free kick. Mcclelland also departed with a calf injury as the LFC patched up their midfield. But LFC had a foothold and as the game edged away it felt as if Österåker had settled for penalties.

The valiant stripes had other ideas: A lightening counter attack down the right found Vasile, his intelligent pass inside was nodded over the top by O’Sullivan to Oscar Hentmark in space, who composed himself and volleyed home at the near post to send the Stripes into ecstasy with 2 minutes remaining. Stunning.

Österåker threw everything forward in the dying seconds but the Stripes held firm. A huge cheer went up at the final whistle as Långholmen completed a memorable and hard fought victory. This might only be the first round of next season’s competition, but such was the sense of elation at the end it felt like LFC had just won the cup – The perfect way to round off another successful season. Onwards and upwards.

LFC Squad

Allen (GK); Phillips (LB), Luca (D), Lascelles (D), Ahmed (RB), O’Sullivan © (CM), Graham (CM), Mcclelland (CM), Leo (LF), Hentmark (CF), Ludde (RF). Subs: Vasile (75)

MOTM – Chris Allen; We called Gordon Banks after the game and he admitted that your save was better than his.

Ref Watch – Brilliant because we won. 2/5.

Hope to see you at Dave Ely’s testimonial (30th October)

www.långholmenfootball.com

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Valiant Stripes concede the cup final, but win a lot of new fans in the process.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Stripes fans in full voice

Långholmen FC faced a very fit and technically gifted Sollentuna United at Grimsta IP, with the division 2 side running out 4-7 winners. The red and black striped nets of IF Brommapojkarna rippled with 11 goals in a thrilling encounter that was a lot closer than the score line suggests. The Stripes failed to convert from the spot three times in 90 minutes, and paid the ultimate penalty as clinical Sollentuna took no prisoners.

The Stripes supporters were in fine voice throughout; their banter played a fundamental part in a legendary night – and the atmosphere they created was described as “the best outside of England” by Sollentuna coach and former Arsenal star Anders Limpar. Praise indeed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83bAsTrBN7s&feature=player_embedded

LFC had a bi-penalty advantage, tucking one of them away to start the game 1-0 ahead. The lead lasted all of 4 minutes in a frantic opening exchange that set the tempo for the match. A dubious free-kick to Sollentuna was clipped back cross the wall and into the open corner of the net. 1-1.

The bouncebackability from the black and white’s was admirable… they immediately rose to the challenge and demonstrated just why they are a tour de force. Paul Sullivan coaxed in a free kick from the right touchline, meeting the darting run of Andrew O’Sullivan who guided a near post header in off the stanchion. Fist pump. 2-1.

The best was yet to come… Supernatural talent Oscar Hentmark playing in an unfamiliar offensive midfield role took a sublime touch to ghost past two defenders and unleashed a fierce drive from all of 30 yards. Unstoppable. 3-1.

Sollentuna were clearly rattled, but to their credit they steadied the ship by dominating possession and their quick passing game started to pay dividends. A wonderfully incisive pass to the orange booted number 9 pulled one back, before a defensive mix up gifted them an equaliser. 3-3 after only 30 minutes.

The Stripes midfield worked very hard, but could not keep the ball. The team seemed to get deeper and deeper, inviting pressure rather then exerting themselves on the game.

Orange boots did it again for the ‘Tuna just before the break, latching onto a loose ball and smashing his shot into the far corner. The stripes were reeling… this wasn’t http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xInP9Gi0xAA&feature=related, but LFC were on the ropes and looking for half-time.

The LFC fans were amazing. They lifted Långholmen off the canvas and never stopped believing in their team. Sollentuna, sponsored by ICA supermarket were called out with chants such as “No Surrender to the ICA” and “We’ve got Southside, you’ve got ICA, ooho wooho”. Great fun.

The management shuffled the deck and the Stripes came out much tighter in the second half. They took the fight to Sollentuna and were rewarded by a moment of magic from Harkness. A bursting run from the skipper took him to the byline and his fizzing cross was turned into the net by the outstanding Sammba Sowe. 4-4. Game on.

The pivotal moment in the match came after 60 minutes; great build-up and movement down the left involving Thorell, O’Sullivan and Sammba. Sensible play by the Sammba near the corner flag turned the ball back inside to O’Sullivan. His deft flick over the advancing centre back put him goal-side and he was clumsily tackled from behind as he pulled the trigger. A stone wall penalty waved away by the officials.

Långholmen were incensed. Decisively the ball was booted clear and orange boots again showed his class one-on-one with the Stripes defence, powering his way into the box before firing past Bergquist on the angle. 4-5. Harsh.

The tackles started to fly in, with both teams seeing yellow in a fully committed ‘classic’ cup final. The game hung in the balance, when the Stripes were awarded a penalty for handball at a corner; An ICA defender getting his angles and limbs all wrong. Sammba stepped up, but he blazed over as the crowd held their breath.

Moments later a wonderful strike from 35 yards put the game beyond LFC, as Sollentuna extended their lead to put one hand on the cup. 4-6. The referee, perhaps regretting an earlier decision gifted the stripes another penalty with 5 minutes remaining for a soft challenge on Chris Allen. The Stripes hit man dusted himself off and took the spot kick himself, only for his scuffed effort to be saved by the diving keepers legs. Heartbreak.

There was something very fishy about Sollentuna’s seventh goal; a penalty in injury time. Firstly, Andy Mac would claim he got to the ball fairly, and secondly the player dummied, as he was about to strike the ball. This is illegal (one may dummy in the run up, but not in the shot) but thankfully irrelevant in the result. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dyXXbo7OXA&feature=related)

The better team won and Sollentuna claimed the title. But the magic of the Stockholm Cup in 2011 was powered by Långholmen FC and their spirited band of merry supporters. The road to the final has been epic; providing some heroic nights of knock-out football, stretched out over many months. Never has the old adage been truer for LFC; this was about the journey rather than the destination. Långholmen FC have arrived, making many friends along the way. We will be back in both the Stockholm and the Swedish cup next year, determined as ever to build forward on the experiences of this year. The journey, continues.

LFC Squad

Bergquist (GK); Thorell (LB), Lascelles (D), Mcclelland (D), Phillips (RB), Sullivan (CM), Allen (RM), Harkness © (CM), Hentmark (CM), O’Sullivan (LM), Sowe (CF). Subs: Ahmed (80), Leo (45), Burris (70), McConnell (70), Karlsson (45)

Special Mention – LFC Supporters Club and Fans. Simply the best.

Managers MOTM – Sammba and Oscar. Special talents, both delivered on the big stage.

Supporters MOTM – Andrew O’Sullivan. Heart, desire and a rare headed goal.

Ref Watch – Firm and fair, but got some big decisions wrong. 3/5.

HIGHLIGHTS

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usPO1cvkpO8&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0gU3kZ-m-Q&feature=related

PHOTOS

http://www.flickr.com/photos/langholmenfootball/sets/72157627781101298/?page=2

QUOTES FROM THE FANS

“Has to go down as the best night as a football supporter since I moved to Sweden, despite the defeat.” – Neil M Banks

“Snacka om publik inramning. Så här mycket publik har vi aldrig haft i någon av våra div 2-matcher” – Sollentunatränaren Anders Limpar.

“For my part on the pitch I have to say that the young lads deserve so much credit, Samba and Eric in particular were easily our 2 best players on the night. That’s not to say there wasn’t some great performances elsewhere, Leo had a cracking 2nd half, and Oscar was superb in an unfamiliar role.” – LFC Captain Billy Harkness

“Not often football fans go away from a game seeing their team conceed 7 and still smiling. All round top night, superb atmosphere.” – Scot James

“Quite honestly, I think we could have won the game. They were fitter and better in possession but they looked scared when we went at them.” – Ciaron McCormack

“Thank you all for last night. A number of people from other clubs have called today and congratulated us on our achievement. Very proud to be a Stripe on occasions like this.” – LFC Chairman Mats Gustavsson

“Great performance guys, hard luck. Stratford Haven salutes Langholmen FC. (via Twitter) – SHFC Captain Rob Taylor

“We may have lost, but the lads played their hearts out, and we had more fun…” (via Twitter) – Peter Vinthagen Simpson

“Unlucky lads, great fight” (via Twitter) – James McConnell

“Tough luck boys… keep your heads up…” (via Twitter) – Lieutenant Evan Barnes

“Oscar! F**king great goal! Well played lads -a great game to watch against a tough side… Proud.” – Richard Wright

“Big thanks to all the people that came down tonight and gave the players a huge boost. You really did make it a night to be proud of and what a fantastic group of people we have supporting this club.” – LFC Manager Stuart Lascelles

“Definitely tempting. If I can get my name on a chair at Southside, I’m all yours.” – Sollentuna United Captain Jens Åberg

Långholmen FC’s final league game of the season is against Djurgårdsburnn on Sunday 2nd October (Essinge IP – KO 14:00)

Hope to see you there.

www.långholmenfootball.com

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