The huge rains earlier in the week meant all Premier League games were moved to grounds with artificial surfaces. Not that the change in surface was going to make any difference; on paper this match should be a walk in the park for Willoughby Dalleys. Dalleys had beaten North Sydney 4:1 in round 1, and beaten Barker Old Boys 1:0 last week. As last year’s league winners, they had the pedigree. But talking to their coach, Dalleys had changed their training schedule. Would the change to their routine pay dividends?
Maccabi Northside had been beaten 1:0 by West Pymble in round 1 and took a 6:0 thrashing from North Sydney last week. As one of the two new sides in the league this year, this looked like a tough match to win.
But Maccabi Northside is a different side to last week; on the pitch today they are careful, considered and assertive. The afternoon started off with clear blue skies, but there dark clouds on the horizon.
They have already won 2 corners and had a speculative shot on goal before Dalleys have seen much possession at all.
And then Northside Monash score. The league winners are 1:0 down and Maccabi Northside are looking like they’re on a high.
Dalleys thought they had the scores levelled sixty seconds later with a beautiful cross in from the right wing and a glancing push in to the left of the goal, but the play was called a foul for pushing in the 18 yard box.
Twenty minutes in to the first half and the Dalleys players are breathing hard. They look like they’re playing a 5:3:2 formation, with five in defence! Rather than their usual confident two touch play, heads-up looking for opportunities, they are slapping and hoping; making long passes before they have had too much control.
The Maccabi Northside goalie only had his first real work two minutes before half time with a great save from shot within the 18 yard box. Pure reflex and great to watch.
And that’s the way the scores were at half time 1:0 to Maccabi Northside and to my eyes they had the upper hand in possession, fitness, corners and shots on goal. And at half time the sky had turned grey and there were occasional forks of lightning in the distance.
Both sides came out looking like they had been told this was an important game. There was good, strong in-your-face football from both sides. Both sides were full of promise, but neither side was going to let the other through.
Maccabi Northside had several good attempts clearing the ball out from their goal area and the making space down the left wing, only to be shut down on edge of the Dalleys 18 yard box.
But Dalleys confidence was also growing with every minute that they repelled Maccabi Northside. All they had to do was thwart Maccabi Northside’s advances and look for a small opportunity. They had the appearance of a confident side that knew it was going to win. Bu Maccabi Northside are a lean, fit and fast side that had no intention of giving away a solid lead this late in the game.
Big shout out to the referee; this was a full-on, end to end, assertive game of football with lots of shoulders and hard tackles, yet the first yellow card didn’t need to appear until 10 minutes before the end of the game when Maccabi Northside pushed just a little too long and too hard.
Then came the breakthrough Maccabi Northside had been looking for a few minutes from the end. Concerted pressure down the right wing saw Maccabi Northside cross the ball across the face of the box, the ball past in front of the keeper and the ball was slotted home in to the left of the goal. 2:0 to the new boys as the lightning moved in closer and it was obvious a large storm was approaching.
Two minutes later and about five minutes from the end of regulation time, the match had to be called off due to the grumbling lightning storm which rapidly turned in to a huge downpour.
Nevertheless, a foreshortened game or not, this gives Maccabi Northside their first win and a well-deserved one. It’s the first clean sheet for Maccabi Northside and a great start for their campaign.