A cold and blustery start to the day greeted the visiting Apollo team at the Naracoorte United ground on Sunday.
The U/12s got the day off to a fine start for the home team against a younger and newer team with a bright showing from Nasir and Murtaza getting hat tricks each and little Cedar chipping in for one before finishing the game with a strong showing as the 2nd half goal keeper.
The great teamwork, good passing and clever through balls had the young boys moving the play around well and looking a very accomplished side, that looked very nice to watch for the spectators of both teams. Scores finished at 7-0.
The U14s went down fighting 3-5 against a much more physically developed side who have been playing together for some time. Hatch Rattanachan had a very good half in goals and used the ball well, with Mojotaba and Cedar aggressively taking the ball in to dangerous areas the score line could have reflected the first half differently.
Ben Green was a rock at the back and with the help of the hard running Zachary, should take confidence if not the win into next week’s game.
U17s were undermanned and up against a very strong Apollo. They weren’t helped when reliable defender Ejaz went down with cramp in the 2nd half. Fletch Masters was at his scintillating best and the Apollo players were tying themselves in knots trying to get the ball off him.
John Nunes kept running hard and offering up front and Dylan Zilm was his exceptional best in defence all day and was rarely beaten. Mojotaba Ali playing in goals belied his age and played with confidence and poise in goals, even taking on an opposition player in his box to give himself the time and space to place a better pass.
The team had flashes of brilliance and some really positive passages of play but ultimately when playing with 10 late on and Apollo able to rotate their bench it unfortunately showed in the scoreline in the end, 0-7.
Reserves confident from last week came out strongly. They were well on top when an unfortunate scrappy goal was conceded and later in the half on a rare venture forward by Apollo they scored a second time. New defender Murtaza struggled early on with his clearance kicks but with his workrate and his 3rd and 4th efforts, didn’t give the opposition time to feel comfortable and worked himself and the team back into the game.
Sajjad and Brad McSorley worked hard in the midfield to alleviate the pressure that Apollo threw at them to try and break open the game but Mal Vahau scored an absolute cracker goal from outside the box, smashing the top corner and getting a goal the team deserved after all their unrewarded dominance.
Heads remained high, and when Naracoorte built up the play and got the ball to junior winger Michael Rattanachan who was fouled in the box, striker George Matatuva made no mistake from the spot and took obvious confidence from that when he scored the winner 5 minutes later after Michael crossed in after some beautiful build up play down the right.
Ray Billing and John Nunes fought hard in the middle and Fletch Masters combined well with his dad on the wing and finished the game strongly, for a well deserved 3-2 win.
Best players were Murtaza, Ray Billing and Jon Thurlow.
After watching the reserves come from behind, the seniors were confident of a strong showing. They started strongly with big striker Andrew Diment going close on a couple of occasions and Jawid Ali also flashing wide.
Apollo pushed hard and used long balls a lot which the Naracoorte defence dispatched with ease. Naracoorte kept pushing and prodding but couldn’t find a shot on target despite being nearly 1v1 with the keeper several times and paid for their lack of polish when with some assistance of the wind bobbled in an unlikely header against the play.
The guys kept searching for an equaliser but couldn’t find the back of the net despite throwing the kitchen sink at it. Spirits were high at the half and Apollo knew they were in for a long day.
Apollo came out a lot more physical at the start of the second half and targeted some of the younger players who got blustered by it. In the chaotic 15 minutes that followed Apollo bundled home a lucky second that nobody knew how it went in.
Andrew Diment went down after taking a heavy kick and 5 minutes later when clean through on an empty net got clipped again, rolling his ankle and ending his game.
Ray Billing who like all the players had put in a good shift, succumbed to cramp and Naracoorte pushed and pushed for an answer. Kevin Marshall went close with a thundering shot from 35.
Jawid went close a couple more times but in the end, time ran out and Apollo were extremely lucky to get points. Any of the Naracoorte shots that were a few inches another way and it could have been a very big loss for them rather than their lucky 2-0 win.
It was a game Naracoorte lost rather than Apollo beating them and there is much anticipation for the game against Inter away next Sunday.