Lunae, Dhanus 16, 249
If their first match lay birth to the Lanka Legend, with the Immortals’ Captain scoring a phenomenal 4 goals that day, then the rematch was all about Titans’ payback, delivered by the brash Readale Nash.
Nash deposited both goals for the Titans leading them to a 2 to 1 victory over the Immortals. With the win, the Titans move to a league leading 9 and 1 in the standings while the Immortals go to 5 and 5. The Titans’ only loss of the season – to those same Immortals in Week 3.
In this highly anticipated rematch of their Week 3 showdown, the stars were aligned and shone brightly as the league’s top two scorers, Lanka Legend and Readale Nash were the difference makers.
Another difference maker albeit unexpected, Immortals goalkeeper Chamunda Badal.
Six of the Titans’ nine shots on goal came from interceptions of botched passes and failed clearances from Badal. Two of those shots ended up as goals by Nash.
A livid Immortals owner Vijya Pandey was ballistic afterwards, “We had that bloody game won! If our stupid goal keeper can’t do her job right, what the bloody hell is she good for? We gave them the game.”
Titans Captain, Raenia Ware disagreed with Pandey’s assessment, “We put the pressure on the Immortals all game especially on Badal. There’s a reason why we’re the best team in the league and their owner is the beast of the league.”
A mortified Badal quickly ran off the field after the whistle and could not be reached for comment afterwards as Immortals Captain, Lanka Legend shielded her from the media’s stink eye.
“We win together and we lose together. We should’ve done a better job of protecting Badal out there and not letting the Titans pressure her so much”, said Lanka.
While noble in his intention, Lanka’s assessment does not hide the reality that Badal’s blunders enabled the Titans to escape another potentially embarrassing defeat from the Immortals.
Overall, the Immortals had the advantage in terms of possession time and came out much more aggressive to start the match than the Titans.
Lanka started off the scoring with his league leading 9th goal of the season at the 16th minute. Lanka intercepted a pass from Titans’ Midfielder, Sara Kelly, dribbled across the six-yard, beating two defenders and finished with a spectacular volley into the roof of the net.
The Amrita Attack did not let up as just over a minute later, Lanka picked the pocket of Midfielder, Bajen Avdi, and passed off to teammate Akkilic Talpur.
Lanka rushed down the field and controlled a return pass off his chest from the edge of the area, turned and delivered a low shot past the outstretched hands of Titans goalkeeper Usian Busara into the far bottom corner…post. No goal.
And that scare is likely what woke up a Timid Titans team before that point.
They responded with a scoring chance from Bajen Avdi whose shot just sailed over the top post at the 21st minute.
Then at the 25th minute mark, Nash waited behind Badal. Waited until she dropped the ball to sneak in, picked it off her boot and then drove it back into the net for his 5th goal of the season to tie up the match.
A minute later, Badal failed to clear the ball again and a surprised Nash volleyed the ball over the top post this time, cursing himself as he walked away from his squandered chance.
Sensing the momentum shifting away, Lanka stole a pass from the Titan’s Tarik Lema Girma minutes later, and passed over to teammate Laurien Hagendoorn. Lanka quickly sliced through two defenders and delivered a header off a crossing pass just over a leaping Busara and…just a pinch over the top post.
Another missed Immortals’ opportunity gave the Titans’ the momentum they needed as they continued to capitalize on sloppy goalkeeper and defensive play with two more shots on goal just before the end of the first half.
In the second half, more of the same from Badal as her errors caught up with the Immortals as Nash scored the winner at the 59 minute mark. Badal weakly played a backpass from teammate Tanigawa Kata, right into Nash’s path. A Nash pass to Ware resulted in a return pass to Nash who rounded Badal and kicked into the low far corner for his 6th goal of the season.
Nash almost made it a hat trick with scoring chances at the 76th minute and 80th minute.
With a committee of Titans defenders (Maria Fernanda Carballal, Terry Park, and Renatta Blundell) smothering Lanka Legend, none of his teammates stepped up and the Immortals were unable to generate any shots on goal in the 2nd half despite strong possession time.
Unlike their first match in Week 3, there were no substitutions, injuries or equipment failures in this match. In the Week 3 match, a miscommunication between Titans’ teammates and a remarkable boost jump into safety by Lanka, resulted in an epic car crash of a play resulting in Titans’ defender Terry Park taking out his own astonished teammate Maria Fernanda Carballal with a sliding tackle attempt.
“Us not talking in that Week 3 match,” said Carballal. “That was early in the season and like I said then, we just needed time to adjust and get to know each other, and I think our communication today was solid as we shut Lanka down this match.”
On Carballal’s assessment, Lanka replied, “Congratulations to them on their victory. However, I don’t necessarily agree with her statement. In the first half, two of our shots had beaten their keeper but both missed by maybe an inch. This match could have gone our way just like in Week 3.”
“The better team won today”, said Titans Captain Raenia Ware. “For Week 3, if we don’t go down to 10 players, I’m confident we would have gone out and had a strong second half just like today, and won that match as well.”
Lanka gently smiled when told Ware’s comment, “With all due respect, we were up 2 to 0 with Park and Carballal in that Week 3 match, after just 6 minutes of play. We would like to think our team’s play had something to do with us winning that day. ”
“That’s fine,” said Lanka calmly. “We look forward to next time when we’ll be on our home field. There’s a whole bunch of new moves we’ve been practicing that we can’t wait to unveil. ” The last time, Lanka used a practice move in a match resulted in his now infamous boost bicycle kick goal in Week 3 for the 4th goal of the game.
Week 17 @ Amrita – Titans vs. Immortals – Round 3.