Saints Vs Japan, Sunday 13th May
Tasked with securing their first top two finish since the days a certain Iaian ‘my clan was better than your clan’ Campbell huffed, puffed and bloated his way up the right wing, Saints made the strange journey to the educational wonderland of Thu Duc, to take on the might of Japan.
Such is now the commitment to the Saints cause, three brave men were secretly tasked with finding the sordid Japanese underbelly (food pun innit) the previous night, and despite misgivings, reluctantly explored little Tokyo in District 1 and returned with promising tactical insight:
Ramen is damn tasty.
Sean Campbell is allergic to the Japanese.
Everyone does have at least 1 doppelganger in the world, it just so happens Ben Green’s is in the same city, Japanese and far more urban hipster.
Armed with such insurmountable weaponry, the Saints arrived in bullish mood, albeit one player light in the form of SeaCam, who’s hypochondria forced him bedbound, googling madly, only to realize that the melt just can’t handle his booze.
The Saints welcomed Rich Blain and Jack Mac back into the fold after their heroic performance in their Gaelic tournament, achieving a remarkable 4th place overall. That there were only 4 teams is neither here nor there and does not, whatever we say, render this silly little pastime redundant in Saigon, ok? Gaffer Finnigan added up his individual knocks and strains to calculate that aging Captain of Industry Alex Crane probably needed a run out, and after successfully untangling one of his hands from that of his new girlfriend and the other from his Big Brother project, the stage was set.
Initially the game seemed evenly matched, with Japan most threatening on the counter attacks and their striker posing a few problems with his first time knock-backs to the midfield runners. Whilst the Saints of yesteryear might have panicked, the big, expansive pitch ensured that the defense could retain the ball with some neat, patient possession play until ab-so-lutely punting it long to Sweeney or Bobby. After incurring a yellow for what someone of Graham’s age might call ‘a good, professional foul’, VCQ found Bobby ‘1 in 6’ Burke with a majestic through-ball, only for Bobby to beat the offside trap, his man, the goalkeeper but unfortunately not the post.
“Anything you can do, I can do equally as majestically”, hollered Judd McDonald as he sent through another eye-of-the-needle ball to Bobby, who this time made no mistake. Saints continued their period of dominance until the half-time whistle, with Bobby finding the highway with his left peg and Japan merely restricted to the odd, long-range effort.
After reminding Sweeney of his sheer size and that he doesn’t have to let the ball roll up to his bonce on his 1st touch, the gaffer shuffled his pack and the Saints rejoined the action. In probably their weakest 5-10 minute spell, the Saints conceded from a corner after their striker, and probably biggest threat, outleapt, outfoxed and outtalked the onlinegardener to ‘plant’ one home. Despite dominating proceedings for much of the opening fifty minutes, the next five caused the Saints to almost implode, with rash, emotionally-charged decision-making at the heart of it. Not mentioning any names, #smalltalk.
But Saints this year have been nothing if mentally resilient; proven again when composure was regained and order restored. James Teaguey, fresh from binge-eating buttery snails, produced a magical turn of 360 degrees and was so impressed with this move, he performed it again! Whaddaguy! A few minutes later and Saints were celebrating an unlikely scorer in the form of Jack McCaughan – who used his lengthy strides after winning back possession himself at the halfway line, and arrowed a shot from a slight angle into the keepers near post. You’ve found yourself a sport, Jack Mac.
Rather than face an onslaught for the remainder of the game, the Saints grew further in confidence with some patient passages of play leading to chances down the left, in particular. Sweeney teed up man of the moment Bobby, who could only strike against the keeper’s legs, whilst Teaguey and Q had efforts from distance. The whistle blew, players embraced and Hulberto rejoiced, smug in the knowledge that his final season as captain would be rewarded with a 2nd place finish. Until he realized his maths were wrong and if, buts and maybes were still at play. But who cares about those anyway?