Due to the last ever game at Upton Park and the ridiculously early 6pm kick-off time claiming a few Baltic regulars, the squad for Tuesday night’s team had a slightly cut and paste feel to it.
However, the men from shipping had the advantage of a non-playing manager this week as Tom Buckley (GFI) was ruled out through injury at lunch time. However, in true team-player fashion, he turned up to marshal the troops as the regular captain, Adam Cook (GFI) was far too busy committing criminal damage upon the Manchester United team coach. Due to the new line up, many players were forced out of position, with a new centre back pairing of Giorgio Farma (Marvega) and Michael Potter (Clarksons) who is usually seen in the centre of the park. Disaster struck within the first two minutes with an injury going to Farma meaning that another usual centre midfielder, debutant Chris Symes (Clarksons) was forced into centre back. Unfortunately as the new look back four was starting to gel, a long throw taken quickly from the left allowed the Southbank forward to nod in, leaving the Baltic behind.
However, the reaction from BEFC was to turn the game completely on its head, Guy Bartlett (Clarksons), another man playing out of position at left back, combined well up the left flank with Rodri Zarza (Oldendorff). Together they completely outclassed their opponents, pegging them to the touchline and preventing them from having any influence on the game. From here, BEFC were able to launch wave after wave of blue and yellow clad warriors, howling into the opposition penalty area. Southbank FC set up to play a high line of defence, looking to control the game, yet they were shell shocked by the Baltic’s persistence which was rewarded through an excellent Nick Marns (Thurlestone) strike from outside the area, deservedly bringing the game to even terms. The Baltic were soon ahead thereafter, with Chris Martin (Pacific Basin) hitting a wonder goal, directly from a free kick. Setting up as if to cross from a wide position, Martin, London’s amateur answer to Roberto Carlos, seemed possessed as he approached the ball and rifled it into the top corner, not bothering with ungentlemanly tricks such as curling the ball around a wall.
The first exchanges of the second half were again the Baltic’s, Ryuichi Shibutani (Marubeni), playing in the centre of the park, showed off his beach soccer background, often twisting and turning away from the defence, combining well with Henry Potter (Hartland) and Martin, meaning that BEFC had complete control of the middle of the park. At times, Southbank’s attacking instincts allowed them to thread their way through the Baltic midfield, but the make shift back four proved more than capable of turning these forays away, leaving a Southbank front three, full of goal scoring talent, without a shot on target of note throughout the second half. The Baltic could have added two or three more in this period, with the right flank, Ben Cooke (Syncap) and another debutant, Will Burrows (Denholm) combining on this side, instrumental in created a number of chances. The introduction of Alessandro Di Battista (Marvega) also had a positive effect on the game, often finding space on the left wing and winning the ball in the air. In the closing stages the Baltic were happy to waste time, Regan found himself on the wrong side of the referee, reacting to a kick from a Southbank forward as he smothered the ball which earned him a talking to (a frequent occurrence with this particular ref). Thankfully this itself chewed up a few minutes of the game as is a tactic that he will remember in the future.
Special mention must go to Michael Potter, whose brave performance at centre half was cut short by a leg injury. Despite playing in an unfamiliar position, he was able to command the line confidently, instrumental in securing all three points.
Please contact Adam Cook on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved with the Baltic Exchange Football Team