Saturday saw our Citizens traveling to face off against a familiar foe in Kings Domain FC. Not simply because we have crested over the halfway point of the season, but also because we faced off in a pre-season friendly. To say that we knew what to expect is putting it mildly. Unfortunately, so did they.
Reserves went down 0-1 at the quarter hour mark and the reserves were held to that scoreline for the first half, leaving their unbeaten streak hanging in the balance. The second half saw Kevin Fitzgerald net the lifeline we needed to keep the streak going. Sadly, the reserves were quick to conceded a second, and the Citizens found themselves back where they were, chasing a goal as the clock ticked down. With injury time running out, Nigel Madzi found himself with space and much to the relief of our side equalised, allowing the Citizens Reserve side to steal a point and keep the unbeaten streak alive for another week!
The seniors took to the field without Billy Jones Carter and Craig Tweedy, both of whom were serving a one game suspension for yellow card accumulation, so the central midfield for the Citizens would be all new. The field had taken a hammering in the Reserve's game, and it had not been up to scratch for them, but the referee said it was good to go. So go we did.
The midfield was sorting out their new formation and faces when Kings Domain took full advantage. Twice we saw a defender isolated and a cross come in. Their forward made the turn both times and buried both goals. The third was a screamer from outside the box that left keeper Christoph Achsenick with no chance to stop it. Thankfully captain David Kilcommons responded before the break to leave the Citizens to walk into the change rooms with their heads up and a bit of confidence the game had not run away from them with a score of 1-3.
The second half started out as a slugfest in the middle as both teams battled the conditions of the pitch and each other for possession. Despite a flurry of chances, with twenty minutes to go Achsenick would go up to collect a ball lofted into his box and miss. Kings Domain capitalised on the chance to make it 1-4, leaving our goalie on the ground with calls for a potential penalty, saying he had been stepped on. Achsenick would come off injured, making way for Reserves keeper Harry Emmens to make his senior debut. Lee Hayward would pull back a goal back for us a short time later, leaving the Citizens still chasing two goals as we inched closer to injury time. Emmens would find himself unfortunate to go up for a line drive directly at him, only to see it slide between his hands and through into goal, leaving us stunned at a 2-5 score.
The 3rds were unsure how the match against Aspendale SC was going to start as the referee showed up after the whistle was supposed to be blown. The first half started off well as Richard Bates sent in a free kick that despite being just out of the reach of Rodney Wilson, was deflected in by one of the Aspendale defenders, giving us the lead within the opening twenty minutes. The Citizens peppered the visiting goalie with shots, but their #1 would pull off several fine saves to keep the score from exploding upwards. We unfortunately had to see off Ryan “Hermit” Worsford, with what might be a serious injury to his right foot. Marc Perez-Yates came on to replace him and steady the back line. The table toppers would find themselves lucky towards the half hour mark as goalie Rich Garnett found himself in two minds as to how to properly deal with a cross into his box and Aspendale pounced, leveling the score line. The first half also gave us an insight into how sportsmanship is in the Bayside area. Craig Fuller was considered “Half dead” and should “leave the pitch”, Drew Dickson needed some hair dye, and we learned the insult around the beaches is to call someone a “pleb”. Stay classy, Aspendale.
The second half jolted us. Despite a strong start, a quick run by the visiting right winger caught us flat and his cross resulted in a 1-2 deficit. Luke Pettican would pull one back after a nicely weighted pass from Dickson, and we looked to have Aspendale on the back foot. A subsequent set of corner kicks saw one cleared off the line and another two pushed to the side for more corners. We missed the towering Worsford at this point. Aspendale were able to catch us out on a counter and once again took the lead with their third on the day. The Citizens were very unfortunate not to receive a penalty call in the final ten minutes as Dickson found himself on the receiving end of a two handed shove in the back, less than a meter out from the goal as he lay in wait for a deflected cross Wilson had sent his way. Pettican was on hand to receive the ball as Dickson went to ground, but anticipating a whistle did not put the shot on target. The referee did not give the call despite the evidence in front of him, and the final score stood 2-3