2015 Match Reports
2015 Bayside FA Season
R14: Bayswater 1 - 0 TOPSA (L)
R13: Croydon 1 - 1 TOPSA (D)
Goal: Lyndon Williams
Freshly rested from a healthy weekend of detox and fine sea air down at Warrnambool, the Flamingos made the trek to our traditional late-season rivals, Croyden. Must be a quirk of fixturing, but we always seem to play these guys away in warm spring weather late in the season. Today was no different. The weatherlady said “25 and sunny” and Dave Crow said “call an ambulance; heatstroke!”. Todd was likewise worried about the UV index hitting moderate and made extra care to ensure the small gap between the top of his shin pads and the bottom of his shorts was protected. Everyone else worked on their knee-cap tan.
Early, we dominated. Man-for-all-seasons Prendergast and his offsider Smarty controlled the play in the centre of midfield and provided plenty of drive forward where Trent and Chris patrolled dangerously. Both forwards ran rampant and peppered the goal-face with healthy strikes on goal. It really was just a matter of time before we scored.
Trent got legged while in a scoring position and secured a penalty, but the thick and square posts denied the conversion. Still we pressed on forward. Many other shots went marginally wide or blocked on the line by the goalie. Frustration was starting to build, but chief destroyer Lyndo found himself handy to the goal and coolly slipped one to the right of the goalie.
After half-time the game turned on its head. There wasn’t much of a breeze and the ground was equally bumpy all over, so it couldn’t be the conditions. Prenda was on the bench though. And look, he’s a pretty good bloke and an Essendon supporter and had a decent crack on EOST so hell, let’s just say he was the main difference. These are the sort of mildly outrageous claims you can make in your own match report.
Anyway, the second half was a polar-opposite of the first. Opposition midfielders swarmed the defence and their talented but opportunity-starved forward became involved in the play. Tis found himself busy on the goal-kicks and we did a bunch of defending at the set-piece. We didn’t do a great job of defending the corner kicks and set-pieces but emerged unscathed through a decent chuck of luck.
The match was drawing to a close and we continued to hang in. Symo was totally flushed of colour (normal) but also looked sick. The heat was having its say on the rest of us too. Late, a throw came to their chucky centre-forward who spun and slotted a classy finish past a diving Tis.
Certainly not the result we were looking for. There were a couple of emotional spot-fires in the rooms post-match but that’s to be expected when passionate people disagree. It would be more concerning altogether if there were no displays of care or desire.
On the upside, we take another point from a premier-league match. And we have another opportunity to do the same this week against Bayswater. Let’s cap the season in style. Up the Flamingos.
R12: TOPSA 3 - 3 Rosebud (W)
Goals: Chris Stannett x 2, Trent Harrison
Thompson Cup: TPS XI 4 - 3 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Chris Stannett, Trent Harrison x 2
R11: TOPSA 2 - 2 Boronia (D)
Goals: Chris Stannett, Jackson Prendergast
Report: Shane Speedie
On hearing of Sylar’s death in Heroes, Noah Bennett famously remarks: “well, that’s less than ideal…” Flamingos were equally dumbstruck at the start of this match. With Todd one ankle short of a full set, Lyndo off holding hands with Kate, Tis at a Sunday session with the Harem and Louis’s mouth askew, we were decidedly short when it came to assembling a soccer team. Further “less than ideal” news came in that Rhys was stuck at work and also that our opponent was the undefeated and all-conquering Boronia outfit.
But, wily members then cast their minds back to previous encounters in similar situations. One of our greatest victories was in fading light with a makeshift goalie, down to 10 men and holding on through extra-time with only a penalty shootout advantage. Others will recall an earlier battle this season against Rosebud when we were unable to even field a standard team of 11, but came away with the most honourable of losses. Those results were far from “less than ideal”.
This club is made of stern stuff. Our best is often produced when backed to the wall and facing two options; a meek surrender or a willing scrap.
Smarty stepped forth for the toss and play was soon underway. As has been the status quo in these encounters in the past, Boronia held possession and transferred the ball sweetly and crisply in their back half. “If they want to pass it round in the back-half, so be it…” said our fearless coach pre-match. Fine by us we thought.
The trouble emerged for Boronia when they tried to transition the ball to their attacking half. Here our haphazard midfield pounced. Prenda, Mash, Scholes. Three defenders from the reserves – after having played a full game already – were now put to work as grunt wingmen. As soon as the ball was passed forward of the half-way line… BANG… three committed flamingos ambushed the play. This was far from pretty, but effective.
Down back, Brando had re-acquainted himself with Baldy and began where he left off last match. As has become routine in these encounters, the opposition captain led from the front with incoherent babble and bleating when faced with stiff resistance to goal. We had struck the early moral victory yet again.
Play wore on and our intensity increased. Our competitive streak was now unleashed and the crowd, sensing something special was unfolding, became increasingly involved in the match. Prenda worked himself to exhaustion and asked for a sub, but was denied as there were no ready replacements. We would have forgiven him if he decided to stop running, but instead we witnessed true mental resolve; true leadership through actions and deeds. Behind this ultimate clubman we rallied and counter-punched our way forward.
Symo started to find the ball at feet and suddenly we looked a bit too quick, a bit too agile for these big-bodied Boronians. In a tough day to play as a centre-forward Jordy played the perfect foil for Chris who imposed himself on the match. A few flicks in behind the defence and he split the backline like an axe though a coconut. Soon one of these perfectly weighted balls and a sharp finish had Chris in to give us the advantage going in to half time.
At the break we were buzzing. My hands were shaking with adrenaline and I could tell the lads felt the same. “Boys, no-one has taken a point off these jokers all season, NO ONE!” Implored Stan. “Stick to the plan, hold your structure and we’ll take our fair-share from this match.”
We began the second half as we left off, Chris running amok down the left side – proving too fleet of foot for the Boronia defenders. Once again he cracked them for speed and just before a shot on goal he got sandwiched in the box. A clear penalty, but the ball had spilt free and there was the big-bird waiting for an easy tip in. If there is such thing as Karma, all those watching on had seen it clear here. Exhausted, bruised, hurting and beyond fatigue, Prenda was committed to the cause and now found some loot of his own. Fitting.
Now we faced our final challenge – to hold on with a tiring and undermanned crew.
Our opponents gathered possession and came hard. Possession was probably 80/20 in their favour for the match and we started to flag badly under the strain. A chip over the top forced Ryan off his line to intercept. There wasn’t a heap in the challenge, but some vocal whining ensured it was deemed a penalty that was quickly converted.
We faced a real trial from here. We were spent. Totally. Our crowd of avid supported urged us on but our legs felt like two hollowed out tree-trunks and our minds spun with the dizziness of fatigue. It became increasingly difficult to organise ourselves and the structure that had served us so well all day started to break down.
Unfortunately we couldn’t hold on. Late in the match with the structure broken Baldy came up with a classy finish to crush our hopes of victory.
Not the fairy-tale finish we had hoped for. But this was still a brilliant match to be a part of. Those who were there, who had sacrificed for the cause now have something special to share amongst each other. We had stood firm in the face of adversity and added yet another chapter to the book of epic encounters against the odds.
Days like these make the club. I was there. Where were you?
R10: Seaford 3 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Chris Stannett
Report: Matt Smart
After a successful July, but a rocky start to August with a narrow defeat to Rosebud, the Flamingos were in need of another result to steady the ship and put ourselves back on track for a possible mid-table finish. Introduce our bogey team, Seaford. Past encounters against this side have never been fun, often ending in heavy defeats. One would have to scrap through the history books to find our last and only victory against them back in 2012. Clearly the reason behind these losses were because blue clashed with yellow and so our genius president Sink made us wear our white away jersey either for that reason or as a way to explain why we’d spent so much money on something so unnecessary.
Looking at the squad depth prior to the game suggested we would be in for another hard day at the office. With both Speedies out through suspension and Todd with an injury, we were starting to lose numbers faster than the Australian cricket team. Actually that’s an overstatement, we’re nowhere near as embarrassing as those muppets. It was still a predicament to overcome however and even though Rhys was adamant he could protect the backline all by himself, we needed re-inforcements. Luckily, we were able to call up Ryan, Prenda and Scholesy after an impressive performance from all the 2’s, which gave us some encouragement. Hell we even had a bench for once.
Nevertheless today Stan was the man with a plan, as he pulled what he thought was to be the biggest breaking news story of 2015 when he told us Mikey D would be playing at left back. Don’t adjust your screens people you read that correctly. The man had been on a mission recently, putting in impressive performances over the past month or so and was rightly placed in the starting line-up. However, it would remain to be seen if this was the right call.
So after that long and mostly unnecessary introduction the game began and once again we started brightly. Instead of being easily shrugged and bullied off the ball like in the past, we were able to control it and begin to create chances of our own. Ryan was generating opportunities from long and dangerous free kicks, Chris and Trent again were forming a good partnership, it just wasn’t coming off on the scoreboard.
Up until 20 minutes, it was all the Flamingos way, and the new back-line was working well together. Scholesy was winning challenges, Ryan and Rhys were keeping the zippy no.10 quiet and Durrance had won more headers within this small period than in the entire season. Maybe this was the day we wouldn’t concede from a set-piece. In came a swinging corner and a mix-up saw the big centre midfielder left unmarked and he powerfully headed home. Another period of dominance ending in the POB going behind. Vintage TOPSA, so vintage in fact that even the two’s have begun to follow suit.
Not long after that and a stray ball from the midfield was intercepted and caught everyone off guard and an admittedly good counter attack from Seaford put us 2-0 down. This is where things could have gotten dangerous. Either we were going to fight our way back into the contest, or slide into oblivion. We dug our heels in and managed to keep it that way until half-time.
The message at half-time was quite simple. Stan didn’t give a shit about the result, but we didn’t deserve to be in the position we found ourselves in. If we could continue playing the football we have become used to recently we could still come away with something. Unfortunately Seaford had other plans and 30s from within the kick-off they’d broken our lines and fired a bullet straight past Tiz, the lad had no chance with that one.
We had worked too hard to just roll over and allow this to become another heavy defeat. So again we dug in and got to work, fighting hard for the ball and trying to find the men up top. He who must not be mentioned managed to get a hold of it once or twice and looked threatening. But then, out of nowhere, came yet another freakish goal from Chris. I can’t tell you how he did it, but it was something along the lines of a 30-yard volley in to the top corner. The man was even celebrating before it had even gone in he’d hit it that sweetly.
So even though we lost 3-1, we were able to at least draw the second half. Even with the defeat, there were still positives to come out of it. The Mikey D experiment had proven to be a success, another good effort as he showed a more versatile side to his game. The defence in general all played well, any one of them could get votes. Ryan could even be on for the first ever 6 pointer. No parma vouchers this week though, sorry boys. So having played one of the two best teams in the league next week we face the other in Boronia, but we’ll go into it confident we can get a result, much like last year.
Cup R6: TOPSA 0 - 2 Rosebud (L)
R9: TOPSA 6 - 2 Frankston City (W)
Goals: Chris Stannett x 3, Trent Harrison x 2, Lyndon Williams
Report: Matt Smart
After the comprehensive disposal of Baxter last week, there was a positive atmosphere going into this encounter with Frankston City. In the reverse fixture, an entertaining contest ended up in a 6-3 defeat, which is staggering. How we managed to score 3 goals against any team should bring up questions upon the opposition’s defence. Sure enough they had let in the same amount of goals as us across the season, but with us solidifying that department in the past few weeks, there was a glimmer of hope we could sneak a few past these Langwarrin traitors.
Last week there was a noticeable absence in Simmo as he decided to go to Adelaide and spend the weekend with his loved one… Liverpool FC. However upon his arrival today, when told he should be dropped due to us delivering our best win in 2 years without him, he smugly replied, “I’m too good for the twos”. Today however there was another absentee which became apparent after one of Stan’s very controversial jokes didn’t receive the usual rapturous laughter one would expect, which begged the question, where was the Cute Yoplait kid?
Regardless the game began and the flamingos started brightly, with Simmo sticking to his rather stubborn words and winning a lot of ball in the middle. However, as has become quite regular with the prem side nowadays, periods of dominance that lead to no immediate result can instead end up in a lapse in concentration. And so out rang the words and phrases we’ve come to know and loathe: “NOT THERE!”, “NO NO NO NO, AHHHHHH”, “EVERY WEEK”, “DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME YOU KNOW”. Shane, the culprit on this occasion, was not seen after half-time. Some say he had a cricket AGM, others say Stan killed him. To be confirmed.
Even with this set-back though we persevered and soon passes were finding feet, through balls were finding the attackers, and before long, both Chris and Trent had shown their class tucking the chances home beautifully and we were 3-1 to the good. Everyone was cheering, except for Dave of course whose Golden Boot hopes were fading by the minute. Frankston were struggling to win and hold the ball in the middle of the park, forcing them to go high and long which allowed Rhys to boss the air with authority. Genuinely don’t think the guy lost an aerial battle. Brando was also winning tackles and playing well, which can’t be said about his post-match Parma challenge performance. Meanwhile Cam “I deserve a mention” Parsons was also doing a good job… at running the line.
Half-time came and went and there was just one aim amongst the squad, lets not pull a ressies. These hopes were soon dismissed as Trent and Chris again linked up well to slot away the 4th which put us into uncharted waters. A comfortable win in the Premier league? Surely not. Frankston did manage to hit the scoreboard again but their threats on goal were few and far between.
Then came an event so shocking, that police were called to the scene. Looking for a hat-trick, Chris had the keeper beat, the ball slowly making its’ way towards an inevitable third and Golden Boot clinching goal. That was until the biggest case of daylight robbery hit the Peninsula since Mornington somehow beat us three weeks ago. Chief Flamingo Lyndo came hurdling in to smash the ball home on the line to which Chris didn’t know whether to congratulate or punch the captain. One thing’s for sure; the club will be installing goal line technology before lights to avoid such disputes in the future.
But no matter, with the game coming to a close, a free kick was won on the corner of the box. Up stepped the hungry Stannett, determined to claim the match-ball, and did so in style, as his bending shot ended up in the far corner, literally hitting the GoPro set up in the net. Put that on the highlight reel, what an amazing piece of footage that’d be. What’s that? It ran out of battery.
It was still the icing on top of what had been another comprehensive victory, which may even lift us off the bottom of the table. Hopefully this can propel us to push even higher up the ladder, but for now we’ll enjoy the moment and sing the song together. You know you’re doing well when 80% of the team have learnt the words.
Cup R5: TOPSA 4 - 0 Baxter (W)
Goals: Chris Stannett x2, Trent Harrison, Lyndon Williams
Report: Shane Speedie
So. Another mid-winter rematch. Once again against our pals from down at Mt Eliza east. Sinclair beat his “rival” drum once again, but even the addition of the fierce pronoun “arch” to the front of the word “rival” failed to create the aforementioned atmosphere. Quite the opposite.
The blue sky had dried much of the water from the previous week and the friendly pre-match chit-chat between these so-called sworn enemies had Scooby-Doo stumped. “Ruf-Ruf.” “Yes I know Scooby, I don’t think it’s a rivalry anymore” “Ruf-Ruf-Ruf”
Anyway, Lyndo went forth for the customary coin-toss and as the pitch looked flat, we decided to bat first.
We took a little while to settle into the rhythm of the match and Baxter held the early ascendency. They were well organised up forward, and created some headaches as we grappled with a defensive method. Their talented and speedy forward played very wide, making it difficult for the rest of the defence to link together. Here, while under the pump, Brando showed his value. Isolated one-on-one, his speed, strength and experience saved our bacon at least four times. When the match was in the balance, he was our most influential afield.
We arrested the initiative. Smarty got involved and his crispy passes cracked the Baxter defensive line. Trent imposed himself and looked dangerous along with his offsider Chris. They both combined and Chris opened the score with a cool slap past the keeper.
Soon after Chris was in again for an early brace. You’d have to go back to the dark days of 2013 for a corresponding scoreline so early in the match, so there was some concern we’d blow it. But no. We scrapped it out till half time and for once we were a happy bunch at the break.
After the switchover we put into practice what we had spoken about. We took a bit longer on the ball, and looked for feet a little more. Soon these tweaks payed their dividends. Newcomer Trent took a couple of bemused defenders on the slotted it past the ‘keeper, then just before the final whistle, Lyndo cracked a signature net-burner into the top left.
This was a match we were expected to win, and we did. Four-nil is a vast improvement on the 2-1 result a month ago, so that was pleasing too. We now have a bit of momentum.
Let’s make it count against Langwarrin this week.
R8: TOPSA 1 - 1 Mornington (D)
Goals: Chris Stannett
Report: Shane Speedie
Geez it was wet this weekend. So wet. Standing out in the rain for the reserves match, the man on the street would conclude that it was wet from the traditional meteorological phenomenon known as “precipitation”. But the man on the street would be wrong.
It was a bloody good goal. And it gave us our first Premier League win. Here is an excerpt from that match:
Finally the levee broke. In one of the final plays of the game James Petitt broke forward and on his left leg, crossed the ball in. It was fitting, even poetic that Louis Brownlee was there at the back post. Here we had our own journeyman. A founding member who was there at the cub in its infancy, trudged through the dark winter of 2013, experienced all the highs and lows to date. Subbed through injury early in the match. Returned. Coped blow after blow in treacherous conditions, but was still there – the survivor – now horizontal to the ground to meet the ball with a mud and blood covered face and force the ball through courage along into the back of the net. Louis Brownlee, the man to crawl through mud for 90 minutes and come out clean on the other side. Glorified.
Lyndo went forth for his customary coin-toss and with some degree of tactical genius decided to kick to the deep end first.
Early, we looked the better team. Some suggested this is because we continue to improve, and each week Stan’s game-plan sinks in a little further. Plausible. Also in our favour was the fact the opposition was down to five players after a few of them jumped into the shallow end without checking the depth first and now had hideous spinal injuries.
Symo started well, linking well with Smarty and powering up and down lane 8. More than a few times in the first half he showed a more robust opponent a clean set of speedos. Up forward we looked dangerous with the extra pace of Trent and Chris, and The Ferret scurried around in his natural environment. Down back things are starting to click with our new setup, so all in all, we resembled a well organised and committed team.
But, again, against the run of play we had a brief lapse and an experienced opponent shuffled around and made us pay the ultimate price. We continue to improve in this respect, and our lapses are shorter and less common than they used to be, but to win games and this level we must continue to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. Some credit must go to the opposition forward though.
After half-time Mornington came hard at us. They controlled the lions’ share of possession and had a few low-percentage shots on goal. But we warmed to the task. Smarty got involved again and Chiefton McKinnon began to dominate. But the real change here was Micky D off the bench. Subbed into an uncustomary left-wing position, he was up, back, controlling the ball at feet, tackling, chasing and chipping classy balls into the path of our dangerous looking forwards.
Symo also cracked them down the right-hand side and we held supremacy out on both flanks. We started to pepper the goal-face. Toddy won the ball for the 158th time and flicked a nice pass to a rampant Symo who flicked a cross to the head of a freshly subbed C. Stannett. Chris has been a bit quiet the last few weeks, but you never lose your talent and here it showed. A sharp jab of the brow deposited the ball to the back of the net and we had our equaliser.
At the final whistle we had drawn with a much stronger opponent than the team we played a week earlier. Durrance had his best game for the club and Chris was good. Symo was excellent again, along with his offsider Smarty. But the best player on the ground was Todd, who continues to dominate when the UV intensity is “moderate” or below.
Cup R4: Mornington 2 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Mike Durrance
Report: Shane Speedie
Mornington. Blurh. Again? What sort of bad marriage is this? So again we trekked the Nepean to the steep foothills of Mt Belura. The drive was ok though - just set the cruise control and the deeply worn grooves in the road from previous trips steered us straight there.
After a long warm-up in very chilly conditions, Lyndo went forth to do the honours. “Hello darling” he said to his counterpart with the icy familiarity of a joyless marriage. “How was work?” It was decided that Lyndo had had a better day at work, so he had to take the bins out and we also got the kick-off.
Early in the match we totally dominated play. Kicking up-hill but with the breeze, our speed and passing game dominated play. Smarty started well again. With the ball at his feet we look a far better team going forward – as his skilful passing bring others into the match, but also in defence, as we are able to stay structured and hold that shape on turnover. The defensive unit even came up with a brilliant tactic mid-match: “just kick it to Matt”.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we stacked the dishwasher or cleaned the BBQ, we were unable to score. Symo stripped two defenders but was unable to slip one past the goalie. New recruit Trent bounded forward several times with no luck. Chris floated across the surface and slapped a few on goal but none that hit the mark.
But this 20 minute onslaught yielded nothing and we were soon found defending. Once again our defensive work at the set-piece let us down and a loose ball found a loose player and the loose player found a tightly-strung net.
That blow took the wind from our sails and we had soon conceded another goal in a very similar fashion.
But we stuck together in good times and bad, in good health and sickness. Smooth-talking Micky D was subbed on and soon found the ball at the teeth of goal unopposed. Where others had failed, a cool head and sharp wit succeeded here to coolly slot one past the brightly-clad ‘keeper. So we went to the break at 2-1. Not a full leave pass to hit the pub with the boys, but enough to have a few and be home by 9.
The 2nd half was a totally different match. Kicking downhill but into the wind, our passing game totally deserted us. The ball bobbled and kicked and spun against the wind and we found no flow or rhythm to the goal. Luckily our “wife” couldn’t find any form either, so the scoring remained locked at 2-1 till the final whistle.
Most matches we play a plucky game, defend well and chase and tackle. This match was the opposite. We dominated possession, especially early, but were unable to make it count. It was a frustrating day and in some ways a missed opportunity. The upside is we have to chance to redeem ourselves straight away. See you next week; at home at 3pm with dinner on the table. Darling.
R7: TOPSA 1 - 1 Bayswater (D)
Goals: Trent Harrison
Cup R3: Rosebud 2 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Chris Stannett
Report: Matthew Smart
Rosebud away. Again are you serious? Surely there’s a fault in the bayside fixture list because the flamingos have become more accustomed to this ground than the North East Detmold. It seems some members of the club thought this was a mistake as well and figured it was a bye round instead as it loomed closer to kick-off and it appeared we would be battling it out with just 10 men. How could a team of 10 have any chance against a club they played against only a month ago with 11 and lost 5-0?
From the offset our intentions were obvious. Park the bus and build a wall high and strong enough to protect Westeros (Sorry if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan but it’s your own fault). It felt as cold as it would be that far north but still, our engineer Louis urged us to withhold our structure and even though he failed his degree, with 20 minutes gone maybe the man was onto something as we had held off any looming attack and it remained 0-0.
Unfortunately, after a foray of attacks, one of the enemies broke through our lines to which many heard the cry “bring him down legolas!” However for some reason that’s not allowed in soccer, which meant we had conceded another soft penalty. 1-0.
Alas at half-time we were down a man and a goal but not in spirit. Stan-nis Barratheon could have at this point burnt us at the stakes for a few stray passes and a loss of the structure due to tiredness in the last 10 minutes. But instead he rallied the troops and urged us to show that while we may go down we’ll still “give them a fight”. The positivity showed as our passing through the first 5 minutes of the second half imaged a team who weren’t there to just play the game but to win it.
The battle continued but with lesser men, we grew tired. But still, with Scholesy and Brando protecting the gates of the wall valiantly, we kept them to shooting from 20-25 yards which proved successful. Unfortunately for Tiz, who’d been brilliant in the air all game, one shot took an unkind bounce and with the sun gleaming straight at him, it seemed the wildlings were going to take over Castle Black. 2-0.
We were tired, fucking knackered to be honest, but we still thought we deserved to get something out of the game. All we needed was the Lord Commander to show us the way and somehow come out of this war on top. Maybe that role goes to Louis, who fought hard all game, but his dog was a piss poor excuse for a direwolf. Simmo – who pre-game had mentioned if he grew his hair out he’d be the mirror image of Jon Snow (Sorry mate but. No.) - came in with one of his vintage slide tackles, which led the ball perfectly into Smarty’s path, who laid it through for Chris to slot home and give the brothers of the night’s watch something to fight for.
In the end, we went down 2-1, but still the flamingos left the field with their heads held high, while the ‘buds (what a shit nickname) grew agitated and hostile amongst each other. Combining this performance with the victory over Baxter last week suggests we’re starting to turn a corner.
Cup R2: Baxter 1 - 2 TOPSA (W)
Goals: Lyndon Williams, Matthew Smart
Report: Shane Speedie
So the date clicked over to the 14th, the fixture read “Baxter” and TOPSA members’ phones ran rampant with Facebook soccer event spam. We all jumped in the car and made the well-worn trek down Moorooduc Highway to face Mt Eliza East in what our phones told us was a “rivalry”.
On arrival your correspondent could detect no evidence of a rivalry. Perhaps this was because most of the so-called rivals were now playing for our team and so most of the precursors for a rivalry had fizzled.
Anyway, Lyndo walked up to toss the coin under the bright sun. We stayed as we were and got cracking. Within a minute we held the initiative in the match and before you could blink again we were 2-0 leaders. Lyndo got forward and cracked one past the ‘keeper for another classy finish. The skip’ showed once again that he’s got a good nose for the goal. Then Smarty found possession on the edge of the box and snaked a curving ball from his left foot to the bottom right corner.
Meanwhile, Symo ran amok. Difficult to think of a match where an individual won so many 50/50 balls. With Smarty and Symo dominating the midfield the rest of our game blossomed. We peppered the goal-face, but were unable to nail another before the half-time whistle.
It was a surreal feeling coming out after the break. Normally we’re thinking about how to best contain the bloodletting. Now we had to think about victory – and we were rusty. Baxter held the early initiative and won a free within scoring distance. The kick came in and bounced awkwardly off a forward’s chest and beat a diving Tiz. In recent weeks we’ve been defending general play skilfully, but our defending of aerial balls and set-pieces needs a polish.
This goal shocked us back into gear and the rest of the match resembled the first half – TOPSA domination. Symo had his best game for the year and was best player afield by a street. Smarty was back after a quiet match last week and adds more votes to the B&F. Brando was excellent, especially early, and Tis was reliable and predicable once again. Rhys was badass, but not badass enough to get votes in a team with winners all over the park.
This was a fun match played in good spirits against a great bunch of guys and a nice little morale booster.
Up the Manigos.
R6: TOPSA 0 - 1 Croydon (L)
R5: Rosebud 5 - 0 TOPSA (L)
Cup R1: TOPSA 0 - 2 Mornington (L)
R4: Boronia 2 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Chris Stannett
Report: Shane Speedie
Best: B.Speedie, Brownlee, McKinnon, McDonagh
We haven’t had a great start to the season and the thought of trucking along Ea$tlink to face last year’s bayside league champions on their home turf didn’t exactly appeal to even the most optimistic Flamingo. But then we considered the facts. Last season we were on the receiving end of a 6-0 loss early. But with some improvement and a better understanding of the opposition we drew 2-2 in an epic at home. On paper this opponent is more experienced, more skilful, bigger, stronger and better organised. But we’re plucky. We seem to match up well – our strengths amplified and weaknesses mitigated. And we came to the match with a plan.
This plan was as clear as the sky was blue at kick-off. First, play our offensive balls along the ground and to feet. Our speedy forwards would be smashed in the air from the bigger bodied defenders, but at feet; there we had the agility advantage. Second, play fast and close with the bald Boronia forward. Give him nothing. Not an inch. This would be the most telling contest in the match so was given to our best one-on-one defender – Brando.
Early we were predictably smashed in possession. Penetration was an issue for Boronia. Long-range shots fell harmlessly aside. Passes to dangerous positions were intercepted. Baldy gained possession but was worried off it by a more determined opponent. Within five minutes we had the result we wanted – petty whinging and whining to the referee. First blood to Brando.
The play galloped along to a steady rhythm. Boronia held possession away from goal, we denied them any near it. But as collateral damage to consistent defending we were conceding a few corner kicks and frees. This is where the real threat lay for a shorter team like ours. An obstruction off the ball from a corner allowed a free header at the 6-yard box. Skilful opponents don’t let those opportunities slide and we faced the early deficit.
No matter. The first plank of the game plan was paying off too. When we did gain possession from centre field we looked dangerous. Chris cut sharp zig-zags and wrong-footed some heavy set defenders and “the ferret” scuttled around in his usual manner. Soon the ball was in the box and a couple of deflections and rebounds later Chris had the equaliser.
At the half-time discussion “the ferret” confirmed that he’d continue on his exercise wheel in the second half. Others were perplexed with what that had to do with a soccer match, but a man with golden boots crafted from infant joeys makes his own rules.
The second half mirrored the first. Frustration grew in the opposition forward camp with every bump and tackle and poke and prod. There was a glint in Brando’s eye. Every question posed was quickly answered with the resounding thud of unequivocal and unwavering commitment. Baldy couldn’t hack it any longer. As he retreated further up-field in search of a kick the chests of the TOPSA defence swelled with pride. This was a moral victory of selfless over selfish.
Late in the match an aerial cross found an opposition winger. Exhausted from constant defending the boys at the back post were unable to disrupt this opponent’s midair prowess.
So we went down 2-1. On review, Boronia had the overwhelming bulk of possession. They converted two excellent headers. But in general play they didn’t come close to a dangerous shot on goal, whereas we converted one and had two other one-on-ones with the ‘keeper. Our formula works. I felt Louis was the best player on the ground. But the most influential player on the ground was someone who forced an ex-professional to have a tantrum with the ref and then retreat to the midfield to get a kick. Three votes Brando.
We’re now Boronia’s bogy team. And next time we play them on the Flamingo mud flats. Bring it on.
R3: TOPSA 0 - 4 Seaford (L)
Report: Shane Speedie
Rhys McDonagh is badass.
So anyway, the fixture for round 3 originally had us playing Rosebud away, but through the week Rhys called the Bayside league and told them he’d be playing Seaford at home at 3pm. This “error” of fixturing was quickly remedied and we all arrived at the Flamingo’s feeding ground for the first time this season.
Rhys sent Lyndo forth to do the boring work of tossing the coin while he took up a comfortable position on the bench. He later told your honest correspondent he’s “too badass” to play the first half, so the rest of us got on with job.
Early we cracked in and our chasing and tackling were excellent. No-one can doubt our commitment and endeavour, but once again the bigger bodies of the opposition central midfielders gained control over the most influential part of the field. Choking our passing game at the source, we struggled to gain or retain possession. That said, Lyndo started well on the wing and Smarty continued his now customary role in central midfield. A few flamingos were winning their position, but not enough together and our often patchy and inconsistent output resulted in a deficit of possession.
A small slip up in the attacking third has little consequence. A small slip up in the middle third is an inconvenience. A small slip on the edge of our defensive box – dire. Thus with our first and second goals conceded.
Rhys motioned to the ref with a nonchalant flick of the wrist that the first half was over and it was time for him to grace the field. Geepers this man is badass. So badass he chose a girlfriend with a perfectly symmetrical name – HannaH – because it looks as good as he does in the mirror. In any case, the match changed tack. Rhys’s Zen-like float across the field covered the turf and smashed into unwary opponents. So badass.
Chief McDonagh was so dominant Lyndo was also swept up in a Tsunami of badassnessnessness. We had found a channel into our opponents forward half and at least now had a couple of forays on goal. While we couldn’t find the back of the net we showed renewed promise and vigour and maybe even some joy.
When the fat lady of Rhys’s harem sung we were four-nil losers, most of us bloodied and battered from Seaford’s bigger stronger bodies. While not quite as badass as The Badass himself, last year’s B&F runner-up Toddy had another excellent match and was best afield. This wasn’t our best match, but it wasn’t our worst either and we are growing into new roles with new teammates. We just need to be a little bit more badass.
Next week: Boronia away, or wherever Rhys feels like playing.
R2: Frankston City 6 - 3 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Louis Brownlee x2, Lyndon Williams
Best: McKinnon, Brownlee, Smart
Report: Shane Speedie
Along with the excitement of a new season and the thrill of playing with a few new team-mates, early season matches are often pleasant because of the fine Autumnal weather. Not this day. “Snow to 800m” and “Graziers’ warning for Gippsland and surrounds” were the unwelcome tones flowing from the Weatherman’s jaw. No problem. TOPSA members unleashed their newest addition to their Soccer Club wardrobe – last year’s Adelaide Crows beanies and scarfs.
So we poured some anti-freeze into our cars and onto Matt Day’s eyelids and made the trek to Frankston “City”.
Lyndo fronted up for the coin toss, but the coin landed on the ice and skidded out of sight so we just stayed as we were and decided to bat first.
Early in the match we were competitive, as always, but we found it difficult to hold off our opponents when in possession; their bigger bodies too easily pushing us aside. This general observation mixed with a couple of blunders and some good offensive play from “City”, resulted in a four-nil deficit at half-time.
Geez we were flat in the rooms. This field in Frankston North has been a graveyard for TOPSA. Like the fixture here last season there was little to celebrate. And it was freaking freezing.
However, the cold weather provided other opportunities. In the warmer weather Todd is blinded by a cocktail of sunscreen and zinc, but today the sun was low and the UV meter registered “like an English summer”. Big red made the most of it. Up, down, left, right, pass, chip, kick long, tackle; he was on fire. Once the recessive, now the dominant, not even evolutionary biology could stop him.
Todd’s endeavour along with some more textbook midfield play from Smarty and we started to even the possession ledger. A nice ball over the top gave Louis something to work with and his golden boot slotted it past the ‘keeper. Not long later Lyndo joined the party with another signature cannon from 25 yards which did the goalie for pace and sizzled a hole in the back of the net. He now has three of the top 10 best goals scored for TOPSA.
Late in the match another well-crafted chip, this time from the back, had Louis in for a double and with it at least some consolation for an otherwise totally joyless match at the graveyard.
This is a match to forget quickly, but on the upside we won the second half 3-2 and take some momentum into our first home game next week. We’re a far better team at home and we’ll lift for the old rivals Seaford. Should be fun.
R1: Mornington 1 - 1 TOPSA (D)
Goals: Chris Stannett
Best: Smart, Symons, Sheahan
Report: Shane Speedie
Round one is a special time of year. Training is fun and all, but after two months with only a light smattering of friendlies the Flamingos were itching for a chunk of meat. After surveying the bright heavily sloped savannah of Dallas Brooks Park, it was decided that the Mornington Wilderbeast was as good as any.
The names on the team-sheet were remarkably similar to last season, but seasoned TOPSA onlookers whispered to one another “gee, a couple of those guys are perfect doppelgangers for the 2012 side”. Indeed they were, and with these returning players and the usual trickle of new recruits we were able to field a fresh team – including subs!
We won the toss and elected to kick downhill. In theory this was a good move, but Todd was soon pale with vertigo. Or maybe he was just born like that.
Anyway, early we looked the goods, our passing game picking up from where it left off last season. Smarty has quite literally played every position the past few years but it looks as though he has found a home in centre midfield. Presenting, trapping, holding off his opponent and passing to feet. Textbook midfield play.
For the rest of us there was a bit of rust in the gears but in time we settled to a steady rhythm. Pierce “slim shady” Sheahan started well, finding space and rebound at left-back and the two-time best-and-fairest winner was also imposing on the right side of midfield. On the whole the first-half was fairly even, Mornington winning the lion’s share of possession, but we looked dangerous in the final third.
Swapping ends for the second half, we felt like we were standing at the base of a life-size pinball machine. Smarty once again started well but this time his midfield mates did too. The ball whizzed in pretty zig-zags and we soon had a triple points’ bonus and a free game. Unfortunately, one of the bumpers got stuck and we conceded a hand-ball within scoring range. This was soon dubiously upgraded to a penalty after close inspection of everything except the facts.
None-the-less, we pressed on. Smarty shone like a beacon and his good work was beginning to pay rich dividends. The Wilderbeast tired under the hot sun and the ferocious Flamingos circled. Chris “chief doppelganger” Stannett entered the fray. As the play opened and the Beast’s legs wobbled we launched some attacks on the goal-face.
Then the miraculous. Many won’t know this, but pre-match Chris told your honest correspondent that he’d try his very (George) Best in this match. Given the choice between miss World and taking on five defenders and slamming a bicycle-kick goal, he’d do both.
So George gathered possession within range, evaded some party-poopers with light footwork, kicked the ball high in the air, ran off to the car park with miss World, returned after 12 seconds, leaped into space and met the ball fully inverted to the turf. A hush enveloped the pin-ball machine as the ball span toward goal. With a ripple of the net our best hopes were confirmed and the crowd erupted. Perhaps Louis Brownlee summed it up best at the pub after the game, “it had no right to go in”.
So we snuck a draw and a point in the eagerly anticipated first round. We were rusty, except for Smarty, but showed some excellent signs. And to borrow a well-worn sporting cliché: “we’ll be better for the run”. See you next week.
28-03: Rosebud 3 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Chris Stannett