Bellevue Battery 2 v 3 MS Odense U18
In a highly-controversial match, it was the visitors who eked out a one goal victory. Odense had been struggling in their recent matches, struggling without a dedicated goalkeeper, while Bellevue had held a mid-table position with a draw against the Mini Malcolms.
As much as the quality of play deserves attention, it was an incident in the 28th minute that will dominate discussion in the coming week.
Bellevue’s latest goalkeeping prodigy (and Youth Team Captain), Bronx Turagabea was taken from the field in agony after a getting the worst of a heavily contested ball in the Barrage penalty area.
The mood was somber among friends and parents as the implications of the injury sank in, taking Bronx away from his specialised training regimen, and potentially costing him an instant promotion into the seniors.
Compounding the catastrophe, Battery Coach Jeffry Jacob had set an aggressive 2-5-3 formation, intending to give his forwards and potential midfielders a rare opportunity to demonstate their attacking flair!
Opinion is split on the incident that caused the injury, but it was clear that someone needed to fill the sticks and anchor the now extremely exposed, two man defence.
That player, was Diego Colangelo.
Ask anyone around Pockmark Road and they’ll tell you; Diego Colangelo is a frankly medicore player. The third draft pick of his week, drafted later than the ideal age, Diego’s potential in midfield and defence has been difficult to gauge because of long-standing issues arising from his chronic short-sightedness.
Howver, the lad his singled himself out in his time at the academy and his coach Jeffry Jacob is quite forthcoming about the reason;
“You never see Diego Colangelo taking a dive on the field. You’ve got to respect the kid for that.”
So, could the neighbourhood substitute match the goalkeeping exploits of “Two Star Superstar” Wally Whittaker – and hold the line?
After a few contentious incidents, including a 50/50 penalty non-decision, Odense Midfielder Ralf Melgaard made an enterprising run down the middle that split the Battery defence and singled out the replacement keeper.
“However, a sharp save by Diego Colangelo preserved the tie.” Official Match Report
Half Time. The Score? 0:0
Oh The Drama
During the half-time break, the normally composed Youth Coach Jeffry Jacob was extremely animated, making it clear to his young charges that the only way out of the tactical dilemma in this match, was through the Odense defence.
As has happened more than once this HTUM series, the Battery have proven most potent when faced with adversity – making an impact on the scoreboard when a player is injured or sent off.
Again it proved, as astonishingly, in the 49th minute, Ron Tai broke through on the left and put the ball just beyond the reach of the Odense keeper, Oluf Skuldbol.
Tragedy struck for the home team in the 54th minute, as Diego lost a contact lens in the 30 yard box, Herbert Norre capitalising on the opportunity with an excellent strike.
Fortunately, Diego’s mother was the unlikely savior of the Barrage team -and had a spare lens so the lad could continue.
With both sides severely handicapped in defence, it was becoming increasingly clear that this game would be won by the team that converted their chances.
Odense extended their lead in the 77th minute, as Ralf Melgaard made his second shot on goal count.
The new Battery recruit, Alex Pritchard was not at all pleased with a refereeing non-decision earlier in the scoring play, and his resulting argument with the match official earned him a yellow card.
The Epic Finale
In the 84th minute, the Battery trailed by two goals to one – and it seemed certain that the match would slip through their fingers.
In the 85th minute, Ron Tai equalised, tucking in a low cross from winger Christian Cartledge – and all hell broke loose.
At the following kickoff, any pretense of sportsmanship or gentlemanly play had gone out the proverbial window, Bellevue with the chance to take three points for their injured captain, Odense with the chance to break a four match league losing streak.
Four frantic minutes later, the ball found itself at the feet of Christian Cartledge, who lofted it towards his waiting forwards.
Amazingly, it was Bellevue Central Defender Pat O’Donnell who threw himself at the ball and connected cleanly – only to send his header wide.
On direction from his father (who had a watch), Barrage winger Sofoklis Paokis performed a ‘professional’ foul by tugging on the shirt of his opposite number.
But late in the 89th minute, Odense made their resulting free-kick count, starting a chain of play down the right flank which resulted in Odense forward Iver Rank putting away the deciding goal past a distraught Diego Colangelo.
The whistle blew and so ended the hardest fought match of the Battery season to date, the visitors taking the three points – in what is now sure to become an enduring rivalry.
A bandaged Bronx Turagabea made the feelings of his team clear when asked about their intentions towards Odense when they meet them again next week at the Odense Academy Center;
“Our intentions? We’re going to get our three points back.”