A sporting contest is sometimes best summed up with a succinct comment or two. Last Friday night’s entertaining draw in the NPL-W between Alamein FC and Heidelberg United FC at Knox Sports Complex was Exhibit 101 for that.
Heidelberg coach Jonathan Clemente, showing equal parts pride, defiance and relief after his side took part in a hard-fought stalemate echoed the thoughts of most that were there to witness the spectacle.
“(It was) a great game for the neutrals, not for the head coach – I’m going to get grey hairs soon.”
It was a display of perhaps football in its unfettered form – two fierce rivals willing to attack one another from the start. Headed by two proud coaches, it was a mixture of tactical cat and mouse, pulsating runs and counter attacks, lots of tired bodies – and in the end, perhaps both teams could lay legitimate claims to be worthy of all three points.
Alamein were the stronger team in the first half, and it would take an outlandish effort from Haffenden to find the back of the net midway through the half to give her side a deserved lead. Heidelberg was not without its moments, with Sidney Allen twice coming close with long-range missile launch shots.
Clemente was succinct at the main break – claiming that the instructions would be to “go for three points” – and, his charges seemed to take heed. They dominated play for large portions of the second half, at times pressing forward with seeming reckless abandon. Whilst it led to several near misses, the corollary was that Alamein could exploit the space available for counter forays. This somehow conspired to showcase the class of Maizels in goals for Heidelberg – with the ‘Berger custodian showing all her poise and positional understanding in a masterful display of ‘keeping.
The inevitable equaliser came 10 minutes from time following a period of sustained forward pressure, with Lockhart forcing a turnover allowing Danielle Wise to fire home the goal – and didn’t they celebrate her fifth goal in two games? A combination of ecstasy, relief and vindication for their enterprise and belief in the process – and against an arch nemesis.
So, ultimately a draw – the points shared – happy to get it, but not totally satisfied – such is the dichotomy when the expectations are suddenly raised. And it doesn’t get easier in the next phase – a Round 4 trip to NPL-W perennial heavyweight Calder United next Saturday (May 1 at 3:00pm) – another opportunity to measure the progression – and another chance for Clemente to stave of the greys.
Alamein FC 1 (Haffenden 23’) – 1 Heidelberg United FC (Wise 79’)
Under 19’s result:
Alamein FC 3 – 2 Heidelberg United FC