Saturday afternoon saw an intense, nerve-racking game between Scandinavian Vikings and Londoners FC at the Arsenal Pitch. Most match previews named the latter team favorites to walk off the pitch with three points, but with an extremely disciplined defence and wills of Scandinavian steel, Vikings got a well-deserved point and could even have won.
At kick-off, Vikings had a squad of only 11 players. Consequently, coach Mofok had little problems selecting a starting line-up, but how were Vikings going to stand up against Londoners for 90 minutes without substitutes? As it turned out, they did more than well. However, Stein and Daniel – late for unknown reasons, the club has banned them from discussing this with the media – arrived just after kick-off and extended the squad to 13 players.
The first half saw Londoners having lots of possession, as expected, but they failed to create any clear chances. The Londoners players had to face the most disciplined Vikings defence in years, and the few times the defence slipped, star keeper Juuso was there to save his team. Vikings, on the other hand, didn’t create that many chances, but whenever they did it was very dangerous. Mercurial Siva ran through the Londoners defence twice, but was unlucky in his finishes. The first time he put it right outside the post and the second time a defender denied him a goal after he had actually beaten the goalkeeper.
Vikings’ other striker, Anders Kargo, is what you might call the opposite to Siva when it comes to player type, but he does know how to score. 20 minutes into the game, he would prove it. In what seemed to be a failed flick to Siva after a goal kick, the ball bounced off Anders’ bald head straight up into the air and landed at his own feet. Positioned 15 meters outside the box, everybody thought he was trying to find a pass to Siva, but Anders took a surprising shot which caught the goalkeeper completely off guard. 1-0 to Scandinavian Vikings! Neither team managed to create any clear chances during the rest of the first half, so Vikings could quite comfortably defend their 1-0 lead until the half-time break.
The second half followed the same pattern. Londoners sure tried to get an equalizer, but the Vikings defence refused to budge even an inch. 10 minutes into the second half, Mofok got an excellent opportunity to score a goal that could have been the final nail in Londoners’ coffin. Spiderman tried a cross from the right wing, the Londoners keeper jumped up into the air and grabbed the ball, but dropped it as he landed. To his surprise, Mofok found the ball at his feet, and with the keeper down he had an open goal. To everybody else’s surprise, he managed to put it wide off the post.
Londoners have a gigantic central defender, about 210 centimeters tall, who is a fearsome weapon on set pieces. However, Vikings’ defence marked him excellently throughout the game – except on one corner, which would turn out to be a decisive moment. The big Londoners player ran towards the first post, got the ball on his feet, flicked it past two defenders and it somehow found the back of the net between the first post and Juuso. 1-1, and it was ironic that the player who everybody fears in the air, but never got the chance of a clear header, scored with his feet instead.
After their equalizer, Londoners put pressure on Vikings to score a winning goal. But despite even more possession in the second half than in the first, they could only create one clear chance, and that was in the dying seconds of the game. After a messy situation in Vikings’ penalty area, Juuso saved one shot from close range but left a rebound. The ball ended up at a Londoners player’s feet, who only had to tap it in – at least that’s what everybody thought. But Vikings’ defender Daniel had other plans, he seemed to have a telescopic leg, which he unfolded and managed to clear the ball with the tip of his toenail. The day was saved and Vikings still had one point when the referee blew his whistle for full time.
This point could be crucial in Vikings’ struggle to avoid relegation. They’re still far from out of danger, but one thing is certain: if the Vikings players can keep the fighting spirit from Saturday for the rest of the season, coach Mofok has no reason to worry.
Match report: Richard