After two bad defeats before Easter and with only two or three games to go before the end of the season, our Standard XI were wondering what was left in their locker after what has been an encouraging season.
The prospect of playing the British School was making it all the more daunting as we've rarely managed to get near their level as they always come around with a well drilled team.
With the sun shining, the pitch being less muddy than expected and our squad looking more solid than on our last two outings, we were however in no mood to let them have it their own way. Listen to the captain's words: 'We're not going to win this 3-0 but if it ends 2-1 to us then that's ok for me...'
From then on, we produced one of our grittiest performances of the season. The defensive unit was almost perfect and Ben deserves the man of the match accolade as he was everywhere, tackling, passing, twisting and protecting the back line in his defensive midfield role. The back line of Dan, Yan, Stéphane and Robin was also very effective restricting them to some speculative shots that Paul, in goal, was able to parry diving first to his right and then to his left. Our counter attacking play with Pascal returning after a few weeks was always going to be our most deadly weapon and so it was as he was chopped down in the area after producing some of his wizardry to go past the last defender. Yan was slightly lucky as he scuffed the resulting penalty to put us 1-0 up.
Five minutes later, the ball fell to Ben after some great piece of defending on the edge of our box. He looked up; saw Sébastien in the link up position and his pass was followed on to Pascal. Route one through the middle leaving Pascal to round the keeper. 2-0.
It could have been even better when Pascal was again challenged in the box for what looked like another pen but the ref didn't award it this time.
At the other end, there a big ouch when their captain ran into the box, was tackled by Dan and fell over only to land heavily on Paul who was also going for that ball. Solid British football there.
In the second half, they were able to keep up the tempo thanks to their substitutes, which was not our case although Ian did come on and we managed to rotate a bit. The team with Mikaël, Jonathan and Laurent playing in the middle really kept its shape though and again the keeper did not have that much to do. He did come out a few times to close down the angles and made a vital save as he poked away a close range shot.
Alas the new referee decided 'his' team needed a way back into the game and incredibly signalled a handball by Yan in the box. Penalty! The softest decision ever, and all the more controversial as he saw it from the half way line. It put them back in contention as Paul could only get his fingertips to the ball to divert the shot onto the inside of the post.
If a few half chances still came their way, in the last 10 minutes we started believing we could get through this. Well! When I say 10 minutes, the referee decided it was more like 15 minutes! But we held on!
2-1 the final score: listen to the captain's words!