Monday
May072018

Partizan back on track with sensational cup win against Eagles to book date at City Stadium

Partizan Richmond FC 3 – 2 Screaming Eagles FC
(Campos 57 mins)
(Faulkner 69 mins)
(Pierce 75 mins)

In what was a repeat of the 2017 cup final, Partizan were taking on the Screaming Eagles for the 2nd time in 4 weeks. Having won the previous meeting 3-1 in the league, in what was a hotly contested, incident filled game; the boys in black were playing a Screaming team that were clear favorites and full of confidence having hammered Richmond Celtic FC 3-0 in the 3rd & 4th position playoff. By contrast, Partizan were still reeling from the disappointment of last week’s 1-0 loss against the X-Rams.

Missing a plethora of players due to injury and suspension, we would be forced once again to field a “make shift” back 4 with Saverese and Gomez being drafted in to cover Right Back and Center back respectively. Montero and Faulkner held their spots after commanding performances in the loss to the X-Rams.

Post warm up and a valued consultation with Asst. Manager Elvir Maletic, Roach lined the boys up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Tactically similar to the team deployed against the Rams, the boys were looking to build on last week’s good performance but ensure that chances were taken to make the 2018 Final. Knowing that the pace and quality of the midfield/forward line would be the key to success for the Eagles, a flawless defensive display would be required by our boys to ensure victory.

It was a truly unfamiliar feeling for Partizan to come in as underdogs but, with the Eagles top class squad it was one that was fitting prior to kickoff.

Welcoming back Margulis into the starting line-up, the first 15 minutes had Partizan dominating possession; Callejas and Escobar finding space wide but, unable to get in behind and breakdown the Eagles defense. The first real chance of the game came from a set piece which Montero stepped up and bent towards the top corner only for the keeper to touch over the bar spectacularly.

Callejas was finding it difficult to get traction down the left and with Escobar defending deep on the right, it was up to Bustillo and Campos to try and create something through the middle. In all honesty with clear cut chances being scares, it looked like a set piece would be the mostly likely source of a goal. 3 minutes before half time it was. Unfortunately for Partizan it was for the Eagles.

Braxton was unable to control a clearance from MacArthur down the right touchline and as the Eagles winger sprinted forward at pace, Saverese could only clear the ball out for a corner. From the resulting kick, the ball was swung into the 6 yard box where it wasn’t dealt with by the Partizan defenders, breaking off the shin of Saverese and dropping kindly for the Eagles midfielder to hook the ball goal wards and into the top corner from 5 yards.

There was nothing Saverese or MacArthur could do and the finish, although from close range, was executed brilliantly. Fair play to the Eagles side who were equal and more to Partizan in terms of effort and determination. It was a hammer blow so close to half time for the boys in black and also a mental blow as one single small mistake had let the opposition in. Similar to last weekend’s result.

Was history about to repeat itself for a second week running?

It was clear that if Partizan were to win this game, they were going to have to step up the effort and intensity as the referee brought proceedings to a close. Gomez and Faulkner had played brilliantly in the first half and save for the unfortunate bounce, the boys could be forgiven for feeling unlucky to go in behind. The only issue Roach would have had with his team was the limited chances created and as such a call for greater speed of play and focus down the touchlines was the half-time instruction.

The Partizan players crowded in for the familiar huddle with various calls to dig in and make it happen in what could be, the final 45 minutes of the season. As has been the case so many times the boys looked united and you could feel the lift as they took the field for the second half.

The opening 10 minutes saw Partizan begin to widen the field with Callejas finally starting to find space on the left. Both fullbacks were now beginning to get forward and the Eagles back 4 were beginning to defend deeper and deeper. Pierce was also having a better time holding the ball upfront as the lone striker. His work rate unmatched and is physical presence causing serious problems for the tiring Eagles backline.

12 minutes into the second half and Partizan were level. Some great work on the left allowed Callejas to isolate the right back, the ball was fed into Pierce who in a move similar to the Eagles league meeting, found Campos. The hard-nosed Mexican then showed great composure to control the ball, step forward and lob the ball into the far corner of the net. On the balance of play, it was no less than the boys deserved.

The increased work rate and sheer desire was having an effect, the goal came as relief to the sideline and buoyed by the equalizer, Partizan surged forward looking for the winner. Escobar and Bustillo were now in their element as the extra space was allowing them to run at the Eagles back line. Margulis had really stepped up his presence in the midfield had a couple of good efforts, first saved by the outstretched hand of the keeper and then deflected wide from 30 yards as his patented right foot drive looked destined for the bottom corner. The tails were certainly up and on 69 minutes we took the lead.

Escobar was clipped as he danced past the left back, producing a free kick 25 yards out on the left side of the box. Needing an in-swinger, Callejas stepped up and bent a lovely ball round the wall and with keeper unsighted the ball could only be palmed back into the 6 yard box for Faulkner to slam home his 2nd of the season and put the boys in-front. The big captains goal was met with sheer jubilation as the supporters, players and coaching staff celebrated with conviction. Relief had turned to belief and with Gomez, Montero and Saverese having super games, we looked on track for the final.

The Eagles looked shell shocked and 6 minutes later it was 3. Bustillo let fly from 25 yards with a screaming effort which the keeper did brilliantly to turn onto the bar. Pierce was first to the ball and with a powerful header hit the cross bar for a second time. As the ball cannoned back, the powerful big striker followed through on his headed effort to lash the ball past the keeper from 8 yards sending the Partizan faithful into delirium.

It was harsh on an Eagles team who were causing problems as they went forward and had worked hard to shut down the boys in black. With just over 15 mins to go however, it looked like Partizan had booked their place in the final but this was where the drama was just beginning.

The Partizan backline was clearly tiring and with the 3rd goal, the Eagles team became galvanized and came to life. The Partizan midfield and back four began to have real trouble maintaining possession. Normally assured with the ball at feet, as soon as it was won, there was 2 or 3 players shutting them down. Screaming were taking control of the game and creating real chances. Twice when through with the keeper to beat and it took great goalkeeping and last ditch defending to clear the ball as it looked like Screaming would score. Similarly on the one occasion when Saverese lost his man, a fine cut back from the edge of the box found an unmarked striker who took a good first touch but watched agonizingly as his side foot finish went just past the stranded McArthurs far post. It was truly all hands to the pump as the Screaming players ran again and again at the Partizan backline.

As time ticked down, with 9 minutes to go, Screaming finally pulled one back. The ball was played down on the right touchline and missing a couple of chances to clear the ball was won just outside the box by a very lively and fleet footed Screaming striker. After beating one defender into the box and racing to the byline, he was brought down by the exhausted Montero who stepped across the player to win the ball. It was a clumsy but unintentional challenge which brought cry’s from both sidelines. A very similar challenge earlier in the second half on Escobar had gone unpunished. It was a penalty for sure and if truth be told, what the Screaming team deserved for their endeavor and fortitude.

The ball was dispatched from the spot with great aplomb and suddenly things looked uncertain for the Partizan boys with a very nervy 8 minutes to play. Screaming were definitely on the ascendancy and looked threatening until a moment of sheer madness killed the game for them. After another fine attack, the ball was driven into the Partizan box from the right wing. Clearing everyone it fell to Escobar tucking in at right back, he put his foot on the ball to shield just by the corner flagged. Having been hemmed in by the Screaming left midfielder and full back, Escobar was stuck, trying hard to maintain control and not lose the ball In a dangerous position. A minute or so passed with the little El Salvadorian working hard to stand tall and maintain possession, while being jockeyed by the two Screaming players. Just as it looked like he might lose the ball, the tall Screaming striker raced into the middle of the stramash and lashed out with a wild swing of his right boot, landing a terrible clatter on his own player and reducing the 3 players around the ball to a crumpled heap.

Truly it was a disgraceful and unwarranted challenge with the striker receiving a straight red and injuring his own player in the process. This killed the momentum and allowed Roach to make a couple of key substitutions replacing Montero with Maletic and Gwaikolo with Pierce to see out the remaining 7 minutes, plus the additional 4 of injury time.

Pierce almost made it 4-2 when, being played in by Campos, lobbed the keeper only to see the ball drop just wide of the post with just 2 minutes of normal time left. That would have surely ended the game. It was Partizans last meaningful possession but as time expired there was time for one more Screaming attack.

Maletic who was beaten for pace, was smart enough to foul his mark on the halfway line to waste time and kill the game. The resulting free kick was lofted into the box and subsequently cleared for a corner. As the ball was flighted in the impressive Gomez was first to the loose ball, clearing to the left where the impressive Bustillo was able to gather and run into the opposing half to maintain possession until the Ref blew the full-time whistle.

Roach was relieved and delighted to hear the final whistle as the season would now continue with another visit to U of R stadium in June to defend the CVSA trophy that the boys in black had won last year.
It was a brilliant game, fit for any final and with these two teams going hard at each other, it seemed a shame that one should be the loser.

The celebrations were short but poignant as the Partizan boys quickly turned their attention to the final and the preparations ahead. It has been a great season with so many wonderful performances and moments, all eyes will now be on U of R stadium to see if it can finish it off with some well-deserved silverware.

Friday
May042018

Dominant Partizan fall to xrams in end of season bedlam

Partizan Richmond FC 0 – 1 XRams FC

Having finished the regular league season with a 5 – 0 – 2 record, you would forgive some of the Partizan players for believing that the league was won. However, having beaten Richmond Celtic 3-1, the week prior in the play-off semi -finals the boys in black were again called to play in another “winner takes the league” game, facing the X-rams (3-1-3) in a Play-off – “Cup final for the league”.

Partizan finished 5 pts clear at the top but, were forced to take on a very different Rams team from the one they beat back in March. Missing some key players for this game, Partizan lined up hoping to avoid a slip up that would cost them their deserved league title.

The game started with Roach employing a 4-2-3-1 lineup. Looking to stifle the Rams midfield and to push the ball though the talented and relentless wingers of Escobar and Callejas; patience and ruthlessness in front of goal was going to be the key to success.

As has been the pattern in recent games, Partizan enjoyed a large share of the possession and had the first shot at goal in 4 minutes. Escobar found space on the right and managed to get the ball into the box, only for Callejas to be beaten to the header. The ball dropped for McAvoy who was unable to take the chance, hesitating when well placed 8 yrds out.

The game was beginning to progress as expected with a large majority of the play being pushed through the center of the field. Both teams trading possession as a lack of space meant limited time on the ball. The Rams back four looked confident in the air as the Partizan midfield probed, looking to get in behind and exploit the wings.

The Partizan back four had a makeshift look to it with a number of key players missing, one of which being Kramoloswsky. Filling in at left back was Saul Montero. The veteran Partizan player has played in a number of positions this season, including keeper at one point. It was this performance against the Rams that really caught the eye. Always a leader, always willing to step up Montero, was absolutely flawless from the start of the game to the full-time whistle. He was an absolute rock and inspiration but, If inspirational was the best way to describe him then unlucky would be the best way to describe the game’s final outcome.

17 minutes into the first half the Rams took the lead. After a spell of pressure, a long ball was played into the Partizan box. It wasn’t dealt with fully and a miscommunication between keeper and fullback resulted in an inadvertent clearance to an XRams player. Unfortunately with the Partizan keeper having shouted and come out to retrieve the ball, he had the easiest tasks, rolling the ball into the open net. It was a blow to the boys in black as all indications were that we were beginning to get control.

The boys dug deep for the next 15 minutes, and with a couple of changes being required; Bodie, coming off with an injury and then McAvoy replaced by Manneh, things began to become more urgent to get an equalizer. Campos and Pierce were pushing higher up the field and Manneh was causing issues with his pace and athleticism.

Again, just as Partizan looked like they were getting on top, Manneh found himself at the center of a flashpoint. A bad foul on Escobar caused players to get involved in squaring up and with several Rams players running onto the field and with Campos being Grabbed round the neck, things got out of hand. The provocation was unwarranted and a true indication of the nature of the game. One team had come to play, the other there to steal a title.

It took a clear 10 minutes for the officials to get order with the end result a red card for both teams. Manneh was shown a straight red for violent conduct, an Xrams player shown the same. The game petered out until half time with strangely no additional time played for the stoppage. The Rams seemed to be relieved to get to half time, Roach similarly eager to get the boys in to re-group and organize for the second half.

With a renewed vigor, the second half started promisingly with Partizan maintaining long periods of possession. Pushing up and forcing the Rams into mistakes, the extra space was an advantage for the boys in black. Escobar using the space and with Bustillo moving to the left side, both wings were producing crosses. We were starting to find space in behind. All that was missing was that final touch or finish. As had been the case in previous weeks, Partizan was lacking that killer touch to finish off some outstanding play.

Save for a couple of brief spells, it was almost all Partizan, with the Rams happy to defend deep and ride their luck. The Rams keeper was also in inspirational form coming to rescue on a couple of occasions saving first from Pierce, then from Lyonnais who had a wonderful 30 yard drive tipped over the bar. The Rams bench was becoming more and more animated as the boys poured forward looking for that goal, that all important first goal.

Time was ticking down and it was looking more and more likely that it would not be Partizan’s day. It was with 15 minutes to go, perhaps the best chance of the game was met with a world class save from the Rams keeper. Bustillo had been fouled on the left wing and whipping in a lovely ball the onrushing Escobar glanced a diving header which, at full stretch was touched onto the post by the big keeper. Racing in Cakovic looked to have the easiest of tasks but from 3 yards inexplicably rolled his foot over the ball, allowing the sliding defender to clear only as far as Pierce who couldn’t force the ball back across the face of goal. It was beginning to look grim for Partizan.

Roach played the final roll of the dice playing 3 at the back and putting on the talisman that is Zaghuir. The boys were giving everything. Further good movement and link up play allowed Zaghuir to teed up Campos who hammered wide from the edge of the box. Again the boys poured forward in numbers. The final chance of the game came in the last 3 minutes when McAvoy chested a lovely through ball onto Zaghuir, who beat his man and drove into the box. Lifting his head and aiming for the far corner, the big man opened his hips to finish, only for the Rams keeper to once again produce heroics ending what would have been a brilliant goal and almost certainly Partizans chances of getting back on level terms. It was just one of those games.

When the whistle finally sounded, you could feel the relief and disappointment from the respective teams. Partizan had been undone by a mixture of outstanding goalkeeping, questionable refereeing and a very unusual league format.

Post-game, the lads looked despondent, but as is so many times the case in football, the score line did not tell the story of the game. Partizan had worked hard and deserved something from the match and more importantly had been outstanding all season and deserved to pick up the cup. Unfortunately that was not to be but, the boys can be extremely proud of their performance.

With a cup semifinal to play next weekend the boys will need to pick themselves up quickly and get back on the winning trail.

Next game Screaming Eagles – CVSA Cup Semi-Finals.

 

Tuesday
Apr242018

Partizan beat Richmond Celtic to make post season league playoff finals 

Partizan Richmond 3 – 1 Richmond Celtic FC.

(T. Manneh (PK) 16 mins)

(F. Escobar 56 mins)

(D. Pierce 88 mins)

They say that life is cyclical and this season certainly has become that way with the addition of playoffs to the traditional and normal league format. With Partizan winning the regular season title last week, it was time to turn to a playoff semi-finals where they would be taking on Richmond Celtic FC at Bryan Park.

Having played Celtic in the first game of the season, this was always going to be a tricky tie with the boys in Black looking to continue their unbeaten run with a second victory over the hoops.

Partizan warmed up well, with keeper McArthur, passing a late fitness test to take his place between the sticks. Palma, similarly was put thru his paces and narrowly missed out, being relegated to a place on the bench.

The starting lineup was looking rather familiar with the exception of last week’s hero’s Escobar and Bustillo, starting on the sideline due to tactical reasons.

Celtic, shooting from left to right were in their customary green and white hoops and looking eager to get the game underway, as Scottish manager McNicol opting for a more defensive and counter attack posture set his stall out from the start. This was going to be a cracker!

The early exchanges showed the reason for Celtics tactical nuance as Partizan held more than 70% of the possession. Prodding and probing the Celtic back four, playing wide and getting in behind, Partizan went close with the Celtic keeper making some great saves in the first 10 minutes. Partizan had 5 corners which Celtic did well to repel but it was looking like just a matter of time, when the first goal arrived.

Similar to the first game of the season the opening goal came from the penalty spot. McAvoy starting upfront with Manneh, received a lovely ball up the line from Montero. Turning his man and making his way into the box, McAvoy danced past the left back before cutting inside a center back, only to have his legs clipped just as he was about to pull the trigger. A clear penalty as the diminutive Scotsman looked well placed to score his 3rd goal in as many games.

Manneh stepped up and nonchalantly stroked the ball into the bottom corner to give his team the lead. With only 16 minutes played it looked like being a long afternoon for the Celtic Keeper and backline.

Celtic re-doubled their efforts after losing the goal and Partizan were again guilty of passing up chances to finish the game off with Manneh, Margulis and Saverese all going close. On all occasions’ either not finding the target or the Celtic keeper up to the task with some great saves. Pierce was guilty of perhaps the worst miss as a lovely ball from Bonilla from the right found the big striker all alone in the box with plenty of time, only for him to tamely pass the ball past the post with his left foot from 8 yards out. From the sideline, it looked harder to miss!

Unable to turn the possession and pressure into goals, the half-time whistle came with McArthur being more of a spectator than participant. Celtic were beginning to believe that a set piece or mistake would let them into the game and the tactical setup would yield the maximum return. Mc Nicol had marshalled his troops well.

Roach was very vocal at half-time, calling for his players to keep concentration and at minimum focus on continuing to play wide and stretch the game.

Celtic switched to five in the middle for the second half and Roach once again rotated his front six to exploit the width and isolate the fullbacks. With Escobar moving to left midfield and Manneh once again running up top. It took only 6 second half minutes for Partizan to score their second with Escobar notching his 6th goal of the season.

The free-flowing movement of the Partizan team was causing problems and with Escobar drifting in from the wing, Celtic were struggling to gain a foothold in the game. A lovely through ball was half cleared by the Celtic back four dropping to the feet of the talented El Salvadorian and after taking a good touch inside, his first shot was blocked. As the ball came back to him from the rebound, he side volleyed a rocket of a shot, rifling the ball into the far-left corner of the net, giving the Celtic keeper no chance!

Another fantastic goal and sublime finish from the man that has affectionately become known as Bruja! (The witch).

It was a goal when it was needed most and from a player that has consistently delivered for his team this season.

Partizan again were picking up where they left off in the first half –dominating the possession and creating chances. Unfortunately, like first half, also missing them too. Manneh again, after some great work, was finding space and time and when through with the keeper to beat was unable to convert. Partizan were made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness.

Cakovic and Bodie, looking comfortable as a central defensive partnership, were playing confidently and with the fullbacks being able push forward there didn’t seem to be any danger of losing a goal. With 20 minutes to go this all changed as a long ball by the Celtic right back looked to have been dealt with, only for the right winger to get to the ball and the byline first, driving a ball into the near post which was touched in by the lone Celtic striker.

Truly a bubble burst for the Partizan players as a moment of complacency brought new life and impetus into what was a dead Celtic team.

For the next 15 minutes, the game became back and forth as both teams went at each other, looking for the goal that would kill or build the confidence to create a winner. Again, Roach shuffled his players with Braxton first providing good delivery and then a lovely cushioned header from the right only for the Celtic back four to clear up field. A couple of Celtic corners resulted and caused some anxiety as McArthur first punched clear and then came and gathered to calm the nerves and give some respite.

Celtic were looking the more lively of the two teams going into the last 10 minutes but, with 4 minutes to go Pierce converted a lovely Granados cross into the box, first controlling then swiveling the hammer past the keeper from 3 yards to finally calm the nerves and give Partizan the victory and a place in the Final.

The goal sparked a flurry on the sideline as Roach put on an additional sub on to kill the game bringing on Advic for a cameo appearance at left back.

The final whistle came to bring to an end another good team performance and on the balance of play a very well-deserved result however, Partizan will need to ensure that they take their chances and keep concentration if they are to win the Final next weekend against a very talented and tough Xrams team.

Man of the Match was Ramon Campos for his commanding display in the center midfield. His leadership and steel providing the platform for the boys in Black to progress to the championship game.



Wednesday
Apr182018

McAvoy scores third as Partizan take first blood and win regular season title against Screaming Eagles

Score: Partizan Richmond FC 3 0 Screaming Eagles FC

        Campos (assist Manneh)

        Pierce (assist Gwaikolo)

        McAvoy (assist Bustillo)

Sunday’s meeting between Partizan Richmond and Screaming Eagles, was the first of 3 potential title deciders that the pair will face over the next 3 weeks. Having drawn Screaming Eagles in the Semi Finals of the CVSA Cup and with Sundays game deciding the regular season champions, there is still a chance the pair could meet again in the league playoff finals scheduled for two weeks from Sunday.

With so much at stake and the Eagles looking to take revenge on a 6-0 drubbing in last season CVSA Cup final, there was no need for motivation as the teams kicked off, on a beautiful Spring morning at Bryan Park.

Leading from right to left, Partizan named a consistent back 4 for the 4th game running. With Bodie returning from injury, the big man had to settle for a place on the bench as did Pierce who was available for selection for the first time in 3 games.

The game started choppily with both teams looking to exert their authority in the midfield. Roach opted for a more counter attacking stance with Montero again looking to provide width and delivery as the boys in green looked to spread the game on the big field. Screaming having added significantly to their squad in the off season were also looking to use width and speed as the right winger on 2 or 3 occasions was able to get to the line and provide some good crosses which fortunately MacArthur was equal too. Cakovic and Falkner were also doing well gathering the miss-placed through balls as both Campos and Bustillo harried and hassled in the center of midfield.

The first real chance of the game fell to Partizan as Manneh, starting up front with McAvoy, received the ball and turned his marker working quickly towards the Screaming Goal, turning inside his marker at the edge of the box he layed a lovely ball onto the onrushing Campos who struck the ball cleanly, but just wide of the right post. A warning sign for the Eagles as Partizan were beginning to increase the pressure and gain more possession of the ball.

The Eagles were looking dangerous on the counter attack and twice Kramolowsky and Cakovic came to the rescue with great tackles to deny clear goal scoring opportunities. With McAvoy putting in a great shift closing players down, the Eagles started to defend deeper helping Partizan squeeze the space. The pre-game strategy was being executed perfectly and it paid dividends 26 minutes into the first half.

Campos played a ball to the left where the brilliant Kramolowsky bent a ball up the channel for Manneh to run onto. The Liberian beat his marker dinking a lovely ball to Campos who cheekily lobbed the ball into the top corner at the front post, from just inside the box - deceiving both the keeper and his marker to give his team the lead. It was what Partizan deserved and was the fitting end to some great play. The passing and the movement was causing issue for the Eagles and the goal seemed to compound the confidence that Roach’s team was exhibiting.

Screaming responded by putting on a 6ft 1 striker, looking to play the ball long and miss out the midfield that Partizan was beginning to control. This change was to prove significant, not just for the pattern of play but due to a couple of flash incidents that would involve the sub. No one could deny that the game was becoming physical, with the “screaming” players testing the boundaries of the referees whistle. First Manneh felt the sting of a clattering tackle with 20 minutes to go in the first half and minutes later Escober was slow to get up from a challenge on the right hand side after some good work from Saverese.

It was a challenge on keeper MacArthur however, that really caused unrest and left both the Partizan bench and fans incensed.

A hopeful long ball through the middle was shepherded back to keeper MacArthur by Cakovic. The ball bouncing high got to MacArthur first who, opting not protect himself. He was clearly was in control of the ball even as the Eagles player chased it down. Failing to stop and jumping shoulder first into the Partizan keeper, the Eagles striker knocked the diminutive keeper to the floor – clearly turning his back and using his shoulder, hitting the keeper in the head – MacArthur was left in a crumpled heap.

Clearly in distress MacArthur was in no state to continue, leaving Roach enraged and vocal at both the Eagles player and team for their lack of discipline and class. Dazed and confused, MacArthur was helped off the field to receive treatment, again, clearly unable to play any further part in the game. It was a terrible blow as MacArthur has been in unbelievable form this season and a stalwart at the back.

As has been the case all season, the Partizan players rallied around their team mate and Saul Montero stepped up to replace the injured keeper. It was a clear example of leadership as he put on the gloves and top and stepped between the sticks to finish the first half and hopefully the game. The rest of the team galvanized by what they had witnessed upped their commitment levels and tempo, shutting down the Eagles at every opportunity.

The half-time whistle came with Roach quickly pulling his team off the field for a brisk and poignant team talk. Emphasizing the lack of action by the referee and the lack of class from their opponents, Roach called for more steel and grit for the second half. The teams response was outstanding.

Replacing Manneh with Gwaikolo and McAvoy with Pierce, Partizan switched to a very high pressure game, closing the Eagles down all over the field. Montero was vocal in marshaling his troops well and was called into action 6 minutes into the second half saving from point blank range as a cut back found an Eagles striker 10 yards out. A great save from the Costa Rican who again was leading from the back and instilling confidence.

Bolstered by the resolute defensive work, Partizan were able to push up more putting emphasis on attack. This free flowing movement of the ball was allowing Gwaikolo to cause all sorts of problems with his pace and guile. After a couple of near misses the slender Liberian was unfortunate not to score as he latched onto a rebound from the Eagles keeper, forcing a corner on the right hand side. Taking the corner himself, he found Pierce in the box who connected on the volley to blast Partizan 2-0, hammering the ball past the keeper from 8 yards. If the ball going in was a little fortunate, the technique and skill to get the ball on target on the volley with power was anything but.

The big man has been getting sharper in recent weeks and his work ethic and willingness to get on the end of the ball had finally paid dividends…..and at the right time too. Partizan were now 2-0 in the 63rd minute and on track for a good win and psychological boost for the games ahead. Screaming were looking ragged and again responded to the goal by adjusting their formation. Again the 6ft 1 striker was asked to lead the attack and on the 68th minute was involved in another poor piece of physical play. Another long ball looking to engage the striker bounced over Falkner and as the big defender steadied himself to head the ball back to Montero. The Striker leading with his elbow cracked Falkner in the back of the head, knocking him to the floor.

Roach again leapt to his feet, further incensed by the lack of control and thought process by the Screaming player. Fortunately Falkner was able to continue and this time brandishing a yellow card, the referee took action to try and sort out the blatant lack of regard being shown to the Partizan players.

Rattled by the physical play, the Partizan team buckled for a few minutes and it took a magnificent double save from Montero to ensure Eagles did not get back into the game. A free-kick was conceded on the right touchline and when the ball was swung in, was headed out to a Screaming player who rattled a shot towards the bottom corner. Montero unsighted, reacted brilliantly to first make a save and then quickly to react a second time to push away as the follow-up looked certain to hit the net.
This turn of events wakened Partizan up and within 6 minutes the score was 3-0.

Roach brought on Zaghuir and McAvoy to push higher up the field and put pressure on the Screaming back line and almost immediately it paid dividends. First Zaghuir harried the left back into a poor pass that went out of bounds and from the resulting throw, McAvoy and Zaghuir combined to pressure the ball backwards and over to the opposite side of the field. The very aware and willing Callejas then stepped on to the right back who lost the ball to Bustillo. The little Colombian skipped forward with speed before sliding the ball to McAvoy who steadied himself before lifting the ball over the onrushing keeper to make it 3 and game over. It was McAvoys third goal in three games as the Scotsman’s work ethic and talent is shining on the field.

It should also be noted here that Zaghuir has been directly involved in 4 goals this season where his pressure and ability to shut players down has resulted Partizan scoring. The big man has truly become a big impact player coming off the bench!

This goal was just what Partizan needed and based on the balance of play and the meaningful intent of the boys in green to play the game the right way and in the right spirit - definitely deserved. With very little to play for the Eagles team effort dropped and the game became pedestrian for the final 8 minutes of play. Both teams seemed content with the result and were looking to next week and the playoffs.

There was a defiant applaud at the final whistle, with the Partizan player instructed to shake hands and show their class at the end of the contest. Both teams knew that this game, while significant, would have no real bearing on the 2 clashes ahead and the battles that would be fought for the 2 titles.

Screaming will know they will have to lift their game if they are to do better in the cup and Partizan will need to be ready!

After the game Roach said – “ We were disappointed to lose Ryan when we did but, all credit to the boys for the way they reacted. They kept their heads and went about their business in a professional manner. I think the result reflects that. It was a good result today, but we will start the preparation for next Sunday now. We have won nothing yet and we now have to play 3 cup finals in a row.We can be happy for our performance and for our team spirit but we will have to keep this mentality if we are to get what we deserve and win the double”

Partizan will play Richmond Celtic in the Playoff Semi-Finals on Sunday at 9am Bryan Park

Man of the Match Ramon Campos

See McAvoy's goal - Click Here

Monday
Apr162018

Partizan hammer Lions to reach cup semi-finals

They say a day can make all the difference, but what about 3 days?

From a cold and wintery Sunday morning to a balmy 76 degree Wednesday evening the differences couldn’t have been more stark. Those were the weather extremes for the two games in 3 days where Partizan Richmond faced Lions FC in the league and the cup respectively but what would the game differences be?

Looking to avenge the 4 -0 loss, the Lions were hoping to reach their 2nd cup final in 3 years as they recently won the trophy in 2015-2016. Partizan, the current holders, were looking to build upon the good result and performance from Sunday and compound the misery with another sparkling performance.

Partizan named a slightly changed starting line-up with Braxton dropping to the bench and Callejas taking his place. Similarly, Roach switched Zaghuir with Palma upfront and moved Montero from the left side of midfield to the right. Roach was again looking to employ the same high-pressure game and drive play to the flanks for width and delivery. The same tactics that had worked well in the first game. Missing Taurus Manneh, the emphasis would be on Escobar to provide the running through the middle and potency in attack.

Partizan started the game very much on the front foot, having warmed up well and brimming with confidence. The back four moved the ball well and Montero was staring to find joy on the right flank. Partizan were overloading on the right side and both Granados and Montero we getting into the wide areas deep inside the Lions half creating space to cross and frequently getting to the byline. Callejas was also beginning to stretch the game on the left and it wasn’t long before the boys in black took the lead.

Granados played a lovely ball up the line which Montero latched onto, beating the fullback and sending a low driven ball across the face of goal. Callejas supporting from the left flank, raced to meet the ball, steadied himself with a touch before lashing beyond the hapless Lions keeper. 9 minutes on the clock and Partizan a goal to the good. 6 minutes later and it was 2. This time the same pair combining for Montero to finish as Callejas skinned his marker, cut inside and played a lovely through ball for Montero to race onto and head into the net before the Goalkeeper could get to him.

Partizan were rampant and with the game being stretched, the Lions were having trouble covering the movement of the strikers and midfielders and they moved in and out of position based on transition. Lions were also struggling to maintain possession as they were being shut down almost immediately with the Partizan players playing confidently and executing brilliantly.

Roach made a couple of switches 25 minutes in, bringing on Margulis and McAvoy to replace the outstanding Bustillo and Montero. Both players had run tirelessly in the opening salvo and played integral parts in the lead. It was the two replacements however who combined to score the 3rd goal.

Deep inside his own half, McAvoy skipped past his midfield marker and spotting Margulis making a run in the right channel, played a 25 yard ball to his feet. The big man receiving the ball with a “slippered” first touch beat the onrushing left back. Maletic, provided the distraction with an overlapping run which Margulis used to great aplomb as he drifted between both center backs smashing a thunderbolt into the far left corner of the Lions net leaving the keeper rooted to the spot with a look of bamboozlement across on his face. Definitely a candidate for goal of the season!

The 4th goal of the game was again another piece of individual brilliance and a thing of beauty. On the 37th minute, Gwaikolo picking up where he left off on the Sunday, was causing problems with his pace and movement upfront. After receiving an angled pass from Faulkner, beat his marker and drove toward the byline, cutting inside he layed the ball to the edge of the box, where McAvoy picked his head up and with the daintiest of chips lofted the ball with his left foot over the 6ft frame of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. To be fair to McAvoy, the ball was played behind him and he showed great composure and skill to dig the ball out and over the onrushing Lions keeper….a superb finish for sure.

Having replicated the score from the Sunday before half time and with the Lions team already soundly beaten, the second half took on more of a possession based persona. Partizan were moving the ball around well and save for a lapse in concentration where they allowed the Lions to pull a goal back in the 56th minute; All looked composed and calm for passage into the Semi Final draw.

Roach made a few changes to the team rotating the squad and Partizan continued to have their chances. Zaghuir as always, made his presence felt, forcing multiple corners and coming close, first with a fine run into the box, just failing to connect with the ball on the line. Then from a corner as he leapt like a salmon he connected well only for the ball to go inches over the bar.

With time ticking down, the game was wrapped up by whom else, but Escobar. The man affectionately known as Bruha, bagged a late brace to make the result emphatic. His first goal coming from a long clearance from left back Advic, who, having a commanding performance, stepped through the ball clearing his lines. The long high swirling ball was misjudged by the keeper and Escobar was there to pounce on the mistake to make it 5.

Credit should be given to Braxton and Bustillo who at times were causing serious problems for the Lions back 4. Bustillo with his probing passes and Braxton with his pace. Escobar grabbed his second goal and Partizan Richmond’s 6th of the night with the final kick of the ball. Palma who started the game and was unlucky to hit the post in the 23rd minute, outpaced the Lions back line and slid a tantalizing ball across the face of goal for Escobar to slide home.

Partizan were into the hat for the Semi’s and one game closer to another cup final and defending their CVSA Cup title.

After the match Roach said “ That performance tonight exemplifies what we have become on and off the field. The work rate and standard of play makes us very hard to breakdown but more importantly a massive threat every time we go forward”

“We really are playing like a cohesive team we are working hard for each other the games can’t come quick enough” – “We have won nothing yet but games like this and getting a win on Sunday will go a long way to silverware and the recognition we deserve”

Man of the Match: Jose Callejas