The first team battled swirling winds and a scrappy NY Bronx Supreme team on Sunday morning. Despite going up early on a blast from Kyle Grato from about 25 yards out, and a beautiful combination play through the midfield that freed up Bryan Baracaldo to slot home a second goal, the offense failed to take off the way it felt it should. NY Bronx Supreme equalized on an unfortunate goalie mistake and then again on a ball floated over the top and poked into the far corner, and the first team had to settle for a disappointing 2-2 tie.
After chasing the game for much of the first half that culminated in the Kickers Reserve team falling a goal behind, the team delivered a strong defense performance and capitalized on mistakes by the Bronx Supreme backline to record its first victory of the season, 2-1. A quick combination play down the right side led to the opening goal for Bronx Supreme, but the Kickers responded just before the half through a corner that was slotted home by Seamus Kelly. The second half saw back and forth play with Bernie Sheary making several key saves which included palming a looping shot against the cross bar. The Kicker team was able to capitalize on confusion in the box between the defense and goalkeeper of the Supreme, with Seamus Kelly poking home his second of the game following a strong header by DJ Stewart. It was an encouraging Sunday for the Manhattan Kickers reserve team as they were able to carry over a strong performance from the 2nd half of last weeks game to pick up their first points of the season.
It was a game we were supposed to win, and in the end, we did win it, but not without unnecessary stress at the half way mark trailing 1-2. Starting against 8, then 9, then finally 11 players of Barnstonworth Rovers Old Boys, Kickers did play to plan, pressing high up, and were 1-0 up in the first 10 minutes when Joe's cross skimmed towards the far right post, the rebound off which Dylan slammed into the net from close quarters. But as the half wore on, the fighting Barnstonworth XI began winning practically every ball in midfield, and our high attack (more like a 4-3-3 than a 4-4-2...) allowed them to dominate the middle. A give away from the back resulted in the striker somehow holding off three Kickers to place the ball into goal just past the far right post. Energized, Barnstonworth continued pressing and winning balls, and they were rewarded when a clearance up the middle was returned with a rocket of a shot into the top right corner. Rovers were up 2-1, and our worst nightmare was coming true - a loss to the bottom of the table.
The second half started with Jonathan joining Paul up top, and there was an immediate change of demeanor for the team as Jonathan brought his Corfu sun-drenched energy to the game, fighting and winning 50-50 balls and turning around the win stats for us. Paul, who up to then had several chances not fully taken (perhaps because he was wearing Raj's contact lenses which were 1.5 times stronger than his normal prescription), finally found himself on a break away with only the keeper to lob, which he did perfectly, the ball bouncing up into the billowing net with the shiny Manhattan skyline in the background.
Tails up, Kickers went looking for the winner and found it soon when Paul found room to shoot at the top of the box, which he completed with typical aplomb, a shot across the goal into the right corner, spinning in despite the Rover's keeper getting a hand on it. Paul would have a few more chances, including a shot that crashed into the post, and another that bounced off one post, across the line to the other and between a few desperate shins and knees before it was cleared to safety. Rovers had a chance to tie the game on a breakaway, but Raj had the save of the day, coming out to read the shot perfectly as he dove to close the space and to seal the 3-2 win.
Over 30 Premier
Kickers Premier showed up with a full squad for the first time all season. However, Everton Westchester Dinamo did not and Premier won by forfeit 3-nil. A little disappointing since Dinamo is one of our rivals and we almost always enjoy a spirited and competitive match against them. We will not face Dinamo again unless it's in a later round of the NY State Cup. Given our slow start to the season, we will mark this down as our first official victory of the season.