An extraordinary curtain raiser for the Exiles upon long awaited return of competitive football
Union Decadentes (2) 5
Británicos (2) 4
Cordoba, Bates, Martin, Lepore
@CMF Montecarlo 07/11/21 19:00
If what we do in life echoes in eternity, then what was done on Sunday will reverberate in dreams and night terrors for some time. The sky burned itself raw as the light faded and the floodlights powered up for the opening fixture of the 2021/2022 season. The Brits had reformed around a substantial core of returning players and signed up several new faces to attempt to overcome all comers in their small corner of the sprawling football pyramid. A limited squad for the match cautiously eyed the opposition who seemed to have enough players to field two teams. The Exiles straightened their backs, pulled back their shoulders and prepared for battle.
The game got underway in torrid fashion. Nerves taking time to settle on both sides. Just as the Brits were starting to find a rhythm the opposition pressed into the box and through a sea of legs they found the net.
The Brits persisted with their game plan and held their nerve. Despite the speed of the Union counter attacks the defence stayed organised and making his debut between the sticks, Atrian was putting in a confident shift. The presence of the man mountain debutant Ben Bates in the middle of the pitch shrugging off challenges and driving forward was a decisive factor. It was his relentless ability to chase down the ball that led to the equaliser. He stole the ball off a defender in the box and it rolled to another debutant Cordoba, who flicked it up, controlled it with his knee and then volleyed it into the net.
As the game got back underway another debutant, the new Italian Stallion, Lepore, was arriving fashionably late. He was able to witness the Brits take the lead as he laced his boots. Atrian released the ball to Ferns who ran the side line before playing a long ball to Martin. The Spaniard showed quick thinking in drawing the defender and then back heeling the ball into the path of Bates. He strode into the penalty area and stroked it past the keeper with aplomb.
The game continued to be engaging and entertaining, with both teams stringing together determined passing moves and testing the resolve of the defences. Gilman and Bates provided a clear height advantage and were causing all kind of nervousness in the opposition box. The Brits seemed to have done enough to see out the half with the lead but a long distance shot was deflected inside the post to tie up the match on the whistle.
Half time discussion in the squad was positive and confident. The performances of Bates, Lepore and Cordoba had shown real promise and the second half got underway with the intention to try and make the most of their clear skills. Putting Bates up front with Lepore to feed him paid immediate dividends. The combination unleashed Martin to retake the lead.
The Brits continued to press the affair and from a Ferns throw in a defensive clearing header found Lepore on the edge of the area. He took a volley with languid ease and the ball found the net off the inside of the post.
With a two goal cushion and a clear dominance on the field, the Brits looked comfortable. Wolfenden seemed to have relentless energy on the wing and Shaw was looking assured in the challenges and confident with his passing. Lepore seemed to be able to wriggle round most challenges and able to put in extraordinary tackles at the back. Bates clearly became a target for the opposition. Players claiming fouls as they struggled to manage his brute strength. Wolfenden looked like he would put himself on the score sheet and even Wells strode through the midfield to have a shot. The Exiles had the match tucked into bed with some warm cocoa, the story had been read and the hand was on the light switch. What could possibly go wrong?
It was a degree of luck and rapid reactions that changed the destiny of the game . An outstanding save from Atrian had the misfortune to ricochet straight back at the striker. His reactionary header was excellent and looped into the net. The moment unnerved the Exiles and as they were regrouping Atrian performed another outstanding save only to see his stretch push the ball onto the post to return into the path of the oncoming striker. Within a space of a couple of minutes the game was turned on its head.
There was a degree of inevitability about the completion of the recovery. tired legs tracking back after an attack broke down but the scorer was not picked up by the anyone. Pulled back to him on the edge of the box he completed the come back. A cameo from Atkinson as the game was closing out provided more grit at the back and with Rooney to still return along with Morris and Peribañez and a further debut to be earned for Munro, there is much to be enthusiastic about.
There are many positives to take from the match. The core of the team has been maintained, the new intake has proven to be exceptionally positive and the squad seemed to gel immediately. The next match will be a challenging tie against the youthful exuberance of Leones de Torrero, who are almost entirely 16 years old.
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