The Beijing Barbarians kicked off the second half of the 2010-2011 season against Sexy FC in their first competitive match after a long winter break. Normal starting keeper Dylan Swann had to pull out of the game beforehand due to family illness, and defensive rock and managerial wiz-kid Keith Bradbury was reduced to the sidelines with the flu (though that didn't stop him from smoking a entire pack of cigarettes during the game).
This led to some last-minute changes to the lineup, with veteran Phil Lowes taking Keith's place in central defense and midfielder Carlos Muniz replacing Dylan in goal. The rest of the lineup was Thomas "Sideshow Bob" in central defense, Kenny "The Chairman" Bain at right back and Tim Traber on the left. In midfield there was Mr. "Yellow Card" Parr in a defensive midfield role and Captain Mo "White Power" Yasin as the attacking midfielder, with "Kung Fu" Alex, and Isaac Pete (more on him later) on the right and left respectively. Up front was the dynamic, unrelenting, lethal duo of Dary Stone and Kevin "Shop and Rock It" Plume. Ready on the bench were Billy Goldring, Dave "5-a-side" Carini and Jochanan Wallach.
Kickoff was at 4pm, and the Barbarians started off well by stringing together a sequence of several crisp passes. Then they revealed their real game strategy, which was to kick the ball forward and have Kevin and Dary chase it. This managerial masterstroke from Keith and Jochanan paid dividends in no time, when Kevin's precision hoof pass connected with Dary's head. Back of the net, 1-0 Barbarians.
Celebrations were short lived, however, after a Sexy corner was weakly fisted out by goalkeeper Carlos and dropped to the feet of an opponent player, who fired a pitiful shot that somehow made it through the legs of several players before finding its way into the goal. Tie game.
The match was in full swing now, with the ball moving up and down the pitch. A couple of chances for the Barbarians here, a couple of threats from Sexy there. Ten minutes before halftime the Barbarians found themselves with a free kick opportunity about 20 meters outside the Sexy penalty area on the left side. Dary fooled everybody and tucked a powerful, well-placed stunner of a shot into the lower left corner. 2-1 to the Barbarians, and that was the score at halftime.
As the second half started, the Barbarians continued to create attacking opportunities. A beautiful cross from Kevin found Dary's head once again for what should have been our third goal. However, the linesman had his flag up and the goal was disallowed due to a terrible, awful, inexcusable offside call. Dary was miles onside, but his lightning speed must have confused the visually challenged official.
Moments later, on the other side of the pitch, the pacy Sexy winger got past his marker in the penalty box, leaving Dave Carini with no option but to tackle/foul him. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Long story short, backup keeper Carlos chose the right corner and saved the shot from Sexy's potty-mouthed, pretty-boy striker, Jonny White. Some people might say it was a crap penalty, but the Barbarians are above such complaining and were in fact happy for the chance to let their last-minute substitute star goalkeeper make the highlight reel.
Shortly after this triumph came tragedy, however, when the ugly Sexy winger again beat his man, paced into the box, and this time stayed on his feet and powered the ball into the lower left corner to tie the game.
Unwilling to accept defeat (and let's be honest, that's what a tie would have felt like in this one), the Barbarians came out swinging. Once again, scoring machine Dary sped down the left flank and crossed the ball into the box and found Big Kev, who took off his shoes, put them back on, then calmly slotted the ball into the goal for what proved to be the game-winner.
A frantic last few minutes made it an interesting end, but nothing was going to take this victory away from the Barbars. 3-2 was the final result and the three points were in the bag.
Voted Man of the Match was the goalkeeper, although as the author of this match report, I have the last word and will nominate Dary, who totally dominated his defenders and was virtually unstoppablee. Buggery Badger of the Match went to Isaac for throwing up several times on the sidelines.
Other notable mentions:
- To Thomas, for only screwing up one throw-in and otherwise performing very well;
- To Captain Mo, for his hard-assed tackling, for linking the defense with the attack, and for giving "special attention" to the traitors former Barbarian players on the Sexy team;
- To Billy and Alex, for causing trouble to the opposition on the sides (in one way or another);
- To Kenny, for another rock solid performance;
- To Phil, for organizing the defense well;
- To Mr. Parr, for supporting the defense and making it tough for the other team to open up play;
- And finally to Tim, for only dislocating his shoulder twice, and for giving the team some much-needed grit and toughness.
All around a great effort from the entire team, and a well-deserved win. The victory makes it five in a row without a defeat for the Barbars. It also pushed us past Sexy and into eighth place in the IFFC Premiere League table with 17 points on the season. We'll get a chance to climb up another spot in the table next week when we face Fortuna Beijing 1994, who now sit just two points above us.
On another note, the Barbarians B team also got a victory with three goals from Man of the Match Henri. All in all, a great day to be a Barbarian!