Rúnar Lúðvíksson on an encouraging surprise win at Tundra Park
Tundra Axle FC 4 – 2 Ottery St. Mary Elites
For those fans who didn’t go to Germany for the midweek friendly – which was probably most of the 2789 who bothered to turn out in the rain at Tundra Park – this was an almost unrecognisable team, full of new faces, playing in new colours, and putting in an almost unrecognisable performance. Those of the old guard still playing – Naik, Tennyson, Chapman and Hayes – were so much improved with a bunch of kids around them, no doubt spurred on by the number of their colleagues already out the door. Kevin Gardner, Owen Cunningham, Richard Carroll, and Will Lloyd all departed in the interval between another humiliation in Germany and this fine win over the much-fancied Elites.
The visitors made the early running, Will Stewart with an early warning on 5 minutes, coming in on a fine move from the left, but stroking the ball wide. But The Axle were playing it patient, and the sitting back paid off on the quarter hour mark. Elite’s Lyle Pearshouse’s inexperience was obvious when his continual hesitation to put in a tackle allowed Steve Chapman plenty of time to pick an unguarded area of the goal for his shot, marking one for Tundra. The muddy pitch made the game a gritty affair, which seemed to suit Steve Chapman just fine, thriving in the rain. But Tundra wobbled after 32 minutes, as Ottery sent a free kick in high over the penalty box. Will Stewart found himself with plenty of time and space to place a well aimed shot and grab the equaliser.
The Axle responded quickly, showing a marked resilience. With 34 minutes played, the home side took a 2 – 1 lead as Sepehr Dourandish flipped the ball in after a cross from the right. Ottery’s Kim Venezia made a run for the goal 39 minutes into the game but the home team’s far left defence contrived to scramble a clearance, and the home side went into the break without further testing. Ottery had enjoyed most of the ball, with 57 percent of possession, but Tundra certainly looked the more composed – not something I often have the opportunity to write.
In the second half the Elites upped their game to apply steady pressure on the young Axle. The visitors’ equaliser seemed sure to come after 55 minutes, following a one on one situation around the left hand side of the goal area, but Evert van der Berk got the best of it, blocking the shot from Cihan Özdemir. Tundra looked happy to shepherd the game into a dull stalemate as the clock ticked over and tired legs from both sides looked the most likely cause for concern. Kristian Rea behaved like an inexperienced youth player after 68 minutes as he gave the ball away to Ted Hayes. Lucky for him though, there was no goal. An equalising goal looked certain again on 69 minutes when Kim Venezia came down the left side, but Evert van der Berk just managed the save. With Tundra weakening, Ottery’s Jamie Purry was dominating his wing and kept sending fine balls into the opposition’s box – it paid off when Peter Peeling managed to volley one of them into the net to make it 2 – 2 after 77 minutes.
The question now was how long could Tundra hold out before conceding again and losing – and by how much – but Ted Hayes had other ideas and gave Tundra the lead with another lightning fast reply, as he successfully challenged the guests’ central defenders, then placed the ball unreachably at the keeper’s right post.Peter Peeling made a good effort at breaking through on the right, but the home team’s left defence cleared the ball to a corner. With only minutes on the clock and an unlikely win looking more and more certain, cheers filled the stadium as Manuel Poggi Sandri broke through the visitors’ central defence to put away the 4th goal for Tundra and seal Solskín’s first win in charge. The forty-five minutes were dominated by Ottery, with an impressive 57 percent possession of the ball, but The Axle showed more steel than has been evident in a long while to secure the points.
Tundra Axle FC (4-4-2): van der Berk – Lisý, Grace, Aragón, Marín – Naik, Tennyson, Dourandish, Poggi sandri – Chapman, Hayes.
Ottery St. Mary Elites (3-5-2): Applecross – Rea, Pearshouse, Catron – Halliday, Özdemir, Stewart, Venezia, Purry – Peeling, Galindo.
|1 - 0||Steve Chapman||14′|
|1 - 1||Will Stewart||32′|
|2 - 1||Sepehr Dourandish||34′|
|2 - 2||Peter Peeling||77′|
|3 - 2||Ted Hayes||78′|
|4 - 2||Manuel Poggi sandri||85′|