A freezing cold Saturday morning in Vallecas and Britanicos were at home against league leaders and last season’s Clausura winners Union Seleccion. Rami opted for a familiar line-up with experienced midfielder Josh Tally partnering workhorse potato Fabian Asland in Midfield, and Zak playing his penultimate game for the club up front.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the vastly experienced Union team game the home side a football lesson in the first half. Their number ten causing havoc with clever movement creating space for his midfielders to rush into created the first goal as an untracked runner got to a loose ball and lobbed the on-rushing Josue before the covering defender could intervene. FCB were struggling to get a toe-hold in the game whilst Union decked out in their black and white stripes had established base camp in British territory. A second goal swiftly followed after the energetic opposition striker robbed the Brits’ defense and smashed a peach of a left-footed shot across the keeper and into the net for a deserved 2-0 lead. Chances of note at the other end were not forthcoming and the lads went in at half time knowing they had some serious work on their hands not to let their league title slip away.
Despite the scoreline and the predisposition of the manager towards hyperbole, the half time team talk was not one of cups thrown against walls in a barrage of expletives and recriminations. FCB took to the field in the second half with each player believing that a result was salvageable, and immediately took advantage of their opposition falling back by dominating the game from a solid base and stringing more quality passes together. Tally was beginning to find his range and his favourite ball to the right wing played in the pacy (and angry) David Kane to torment the substitute left back on more than one occasion in the second period. Majid’s men got the first of their goals after some more direct approach play when Luigi found himself with some space on the edge of the box after 60 minutes or so. The man from Merida showed his class and lobbed the goalie to christen his new boots and bolster the confidence of his teammates. The effort being put in by the boys in red at this point was exactly the kind of spectacle that their manager dreams of and the embodiment of Fleck’s favourite saying! Constant harrying of technically superior opposition, vocal support of teammates and accuracy of both passing and movement off the ball was rewarded when a loose ball played in from the right was pounced on by left back/ wingback/ midfielder/ potato Ed at the back post. 2-2 and belief now surging through the team.
What happened next was not only against the run of play, but beyond the threshold of Rami’s tolerance levels and a distasteful reminder of what some believe to be prejudice against the Guiris in this league. On a rare foray down the Brits’ right flank a ball was chipped up towards the back post. Josue got two hands to the ball, and crucially to this observer’s mind, one foot on the ground. The opposition striker, as all forwards who are already committed to the challenge would do, nodded the ball from his grasp and into the net. To the surprise of everyone on and off the pitch, the Spanish referee signalled for a goal y así se desató el jaleo… Rami predictably lost his shit and was sent to the changing room for an early shower (only the showers weren’t working and never work at Vallecas and I don’t think he needed one anyway), Josue was rightly apoplectic, and notably none of the opposition players remonstrated with the ref.
The lads however simply refused to let the referee and a tiring opposition get the better of them!
Britanico voices now hoarse after so much organising and cajoling, they swarmed downfield and won a last minute corner to be delivered by captain Zak. The inswinging corner caught a weary defence off-guard and Rama was on hand to tap in his first and most important goal for the club. It may not have been in the top bin™, but the celebrations were as wild as if it had been. Final score 3-3. If there were any neutrals watching I’m sure they enjoyed it.
MOTM: David Kane & Josh Talbot
Goal of the game: Luigi Bosetti