Sunday, March 02, 2008
Making the Numbers Count - another update
APIA-Leichhardt took an early lead against Bankstown City in this afternoon's NSWPL Round 2 fixture at Lambert Park. With Bankstown pressing hard in their usual manner, APIA began sitting back, relying on their sturdy defence (and the lack of movement from the Bankstown strikers). By half-time, APIA had held on to their lead, and looked unlikely to be breached.
Then something strange happened. Danny Slavevski, a Bankstown substitute, had given a linesman some lip towards the end of the first half; he'd already been booked, and was duly sent off when the dissent was reported. Ten minutes into the second period, Bankstown's player-coach Peter Tsekenis followed him into the tunnel, after an over-the-ball challenge on APIA's Peter Peralta.
Bankstown down to nine men, with over half an hour of the match remaining...and still a goal down. Game over, you would have thought.
Yet APIA had become so set in their defensive posture that they were simply unable to alter it, and, unbelievably, Bankstown continued to control the game following the second send-off. They had their "out-of-their-skin" players, of course, notably the energetic Shane Webb in midfield and Richard Luksic, a mountain in defence. But APIA's feebleness was something to behold; nervous in possession, and slow to switch the play and to commit numbers to attack when the high Bankstown backline was threatened, they lost the thread of the game completely.
Towards the end, it was amazing to see APIA, with eleven men, hoisting pointless long balls up from the back, and Bankstown, with nine, building through the midfield!
My Well-Informed Covite friend and I, watching from the northern stand, both thought that a Bankstown equaliser was on the cards. And sure enough, James Monie dived to head home a left-wing corner in second-half injury time.
There was a precedent in last season's A-League, and no doubt there have been others. It was, overall, a very interesting lesson in the psychology of football: the APIA players, over-committed to defence, seemed to feel terrified of the embarrassment of conceding; Bankstown, on the other hand, had absolutely nothing to lose, and played accordingly.
Not too familiar with the quality of the apia side or their manager, but I gotta say, this 'defending of a one goal lead' happens far too often in Australia for my liking, regardless of numbers...
Not enough managers around with the conviction to go for the juglar and kill off the game with a second...
From what you write, seems hard to feel sorry for apia on this one...
Cheers Tony. Might make it up to the Gabbie some time soon.
...Excuse my nostalgia - I caught a snatch of the JW Cup at Seymour Shaw on TWG, saw the same old muddy knoll behind the goals where we would stand freezing on a Sunday afternoon so many years ago. Astro turf aside, somethings never change....
I remember that spot becoming a temporary home for the Cove when SFC played a training game against Sutho a little while back.
Seymour Shaw is one of my favourite NSWPL venues, although I'm not convinced about the astroturf.