Part 1: The match report.
Last night saw Warsaw’s newest football team, F.C. Victoria Antyki take to the field for the first time in 3 short pre-season friendly matches at Warsaw’s Warszawianka football complex. From a squad of 16 signed players, it was disappointing to be able only to field the regulation 6 as a mixture of injuries and call-offs led to our depleted squad. As I write this, the names of our opponents are unknown to us as I wasn’t savvy enough to pick up a fixture sheet, however, I won’t dwell on the opposition, instead focusing on our own performances.
Our first match saw us go down 5 – 1 to a very strong, experienced, league side despite scoring in the first 20 seconds. In a moment of fortune our captain, David Jelly, found himself with only the keeper to beat and did so easily. From there on in, it fell apart. Our team, playing together for the first time, had yet to acclimatise and we became as leaky as my old flat’s bathroom ceiling. It has to be said, the opposition were pretty strong and their attacking midfielder, my opposite number, was a class above anyone else on the pitch creating most of their goals. It could have been several more had our defender, Jacek Brzezinski, been less of a nuisance and had our goalkeeper, Seweryn Szeliga, not been in such good form.
Heads were down as we moved into our second match and after we lost our first goal it started to look ominous for Victoria Antyki as confidence dropped, defence was pulled out of position, midfield was devoid of creativity and attack had no service whatsoever. Frustratingly, we persisted with a long ball for much longer than we should, given our two creative attacking players are 5′ 7″ tall. The final score 5 – 0 flattered our opposition, shamed us for a disappointing lack of heart and gave us a much needed wake-up call.
Staring 3 straight defeats in the face, something odd happened. Something clicked and Victoria Antyki started to play. The long ball was largely disposed of and ball was played on the ground. There was more creativity from midfield both from myself in the centre – finding it much easier to play with the ball at my feet – and from our two wing-backs, Marcin Ochonski and Tomek Szczepański. In fact, it was our midfield 3 who were involved in the 3 goals. The first was created by a cross from Szczepański and at full-stretch, I poked it past the keeper. Our second, scored from a ridiculously wide angle by Ochonski, was laid on from my neat through-ball pass from a kick-in. For our 3rd goal, Szczepański found himself in space as the result of a defensive error and toed the ball past the helpless goalkeeper.
So, not a particularly strong start from the Antyki boys, however, the fight shown in the final game of the evening, when tiredness was creeping in, was particularly heartening. It remains to be seen if we can build on that lift in form for our first game of the season.
“We love Antyki. We do!”
Part 2: Performance
For our first pseudo-competitive matches, I decided it was time to put a new battery in my Adidas SPEED_CELL, slot it into my Predator boots and get some info on my own performance from the matches. What I found was quite interesting.
Throughout the 3 matches I played in an attacking midfield role in the centre of the pitch, pushing higher up the pitch when attacking but, certainly in the first 2 matches, frequently dropping back into a defensive midfield position. In the first match, struggling against quick passing and a skillful forward, I had to chase and harry often, shown by my maximum speed of 20.25km and 10 sprints (most back to a defensive area) throughout the 15 minute match.
The second match saw our defensive players struggle to gel and to work together. I have a slightly slower maximum speed in this match as I tired, and let my head drop. Despite my protestations we persisted with the long-ball tactic throughout this match, increasing its use through frustration as we went further and further behind. I saw little of the ball in this match and my increased number of sprints are an indication of racing back to cover, or running forward into space from midfield. Despite my stats, this match was my lowest point of the three.
Finally, our 3rd match saw some consistency to our play and a change in tactic. We played the ball on the ground where possible and I found myself with much more possession. It’s easy to say our opposition were tired after two previous matches but then again, so were we. With the ball at my feet, I found it much easier and confidence grew. Within the first 2 minutes I’d nutmegged a defender with the outside of my foot, running past him to collect the ball and hearing the referee shout “Ole!” as I did so. With my head now up I found myself in the right position to score our first then placed a lovely through ball onto the foot of our wing-back to score the second. By the end of the match I felt good and could have played another 2 or 3 but alas, time was up. What was interesting about this is that my stats are quite different. It seems almost obvious now that I’ve considered it but it was surprising at first. In the first 2 games, I was doing a lot of chasing and jockeying, whereas in the second match I was able to put my foot on the ball and take some time – thus the significantly slower maximum speed and only 2 sprints.
Though I’m sure these posts are only going to be of interest to my football supporting (and even then, only the hardcore) friends, I will continue to analyse my performance in the Antyki games and see how it changes over time.
If you’re here for the music – and I expect most of you are… feel free to ignore these posts and go check this out instead. They’re just for my own amusement; and to the actual footballers I know, this isn’t supposed to be prozone, it’s just a bit of fun. Now… as you were.