If there’s 1 thing that I’ve been looking forward to since the first half of our relegation stage campaign, it wasn’t the chance to avenge our narrow loss against Vilafranquense, nor is it the opportunity to get back at Caldas for kicking the shit out of us. Well, that’s a lie, I loved beating Vilafranquense and I look forward to beating Caldas next week. But no, the match I’ve been looking forward to most is our trip to Vit Sernache. Because how dare they. How dare they drag my excellent Heróis into a piss poor scrap unworthy of a proper match report. How dare they make us look as average as they are. We’ve got a score to settle today.
I don’t want to labour the point too much but Sernache are exactly the kind of team that hates home games. Today they won’t have the luxury of being able to sit back as the scrappy underdog visitors and nullify us. Today they have to try to get a result. With that in mind, we’ll play Project: Meatloaf but we’ll express ourselves more, as is becoming the norm, and we’ll roam from our positions, creating and finding the space we need to make good chances and hurt Sernache.
Vitor Miranda, who seems to have learned his lesson, and Hurley both come back from suspension and will replace Seidi and Rúby, while Amonike and Antunes keep their places. Let’s blow these fools out of the water.
With just over 20 minutes gone we win a free kick in a promising position on the right. Valadão decides to mix it up by squaring the ball to Antunes, who is stood unmarked on the edge of the area. Antunes moves to his right and threads it trough for Amonike, but his near post shot is quite poor and the keeper parries it behind.
A few minutes later Miranda whips a cross in from the right wing. Razak is stood on the edge of the 6 yard box to head it away but it doesn’t go far. Hurley cushions the ball down with his head to Kevin, who plays a spectacular back heel ball through a crowd of defenders to Amonike, who has a bit of space on the right side of the area. He squares it for Magina, who easily knocks it in, continuing his remarkable goalscoring form.
10 minutes from half time Amonike is running inside from the left. He plays it in to Magina, who skips around a centre back’s challenge and smashes the ball against the bar from the edge of the area. Razak sensibly chests it down for his goalkeeper, Fernando. And then in a moment of chaos, of madness, and of hilarity, Fernando hoofs the ball forward – about 5 yards. It smacks Razak in the face and bounces into the net. It’s lucky they all count isn’t it?
What is annoying though is the increasing regularity with which we’re conceding straight after scoring. Straight from kick off, Feng Jiapeng finds himself with the ball on the right wing. He crosses it in but Oliveira heads away as far as Narciso just inside the area. Santos dives in with a perfect slide tackle to knock the ball away but it falls to Luís Carlos, who keeps his cool and tucks the ball below Azevedo into the bottom corner.
This needs to stop. It’ll cost us at some point. I tell the boys as much at half time, right after I beg them to keep their heads and not get complacent.
Almost 10 minutes after the restart, Valadão passes short to Antunes, who clips the ball round the corner for Kevin. Kevin looks up and plays a first time pass to Magina, who takes it past his marker with his first touch and then drills the ball into the bottom corner with his second.
Straight from the kick off… nothing happens. That’s more like it.
With 20 minutes to go I bring on Batista and Arruda for Kevin and Antunes and swap us to 4-4-2. To be honest there’s no tactical reason behind the decision, I just want to see what happens. At 3-1 and with not long to play I reckon we’ll take the 3 points and I’m curious how this squad reacts to this bread and butter formation. This formation that I’ve not used since I had a goalkeeper and a pub teamer up front.
Nothing much happens for the next 15 minutes or so, until Hurley plays a neat one-two with Arruda and smashes a shot against the post. Magina also has a shot parried behind in injury time but otherwise that’s the game. And in the end it’s comfortable. We can’t forget our weaknesses though: our concentration dropped after the second goal and we failed to clear the ball in the build up to theirs. They aren’t major problems in isolation, but they could become major problems if we let them keep happening.
A week down the line, and our last match of the season is upon us. One last chance to show these smug Caldas bastards what we can do. Admittedly, Caldas haven’t enjoyed the clean sweep that many would have predicted at the stage’s half way point: This side of the mid-stage break they’ve drawn 0-0 with Naval, 1-1 with Sernache, 1-1 with Vilafranquense, and they even lost 1-0 in their last match to Sporting Ideal.
But they’ve already wrapped up 1st and they’re still a force to be reckoned with, and we have ways of dealing with forces to be reckoned with around here. We retreat to our safer, more solid Heróis Original system in the hope that the better team will self destruct and allow us to nick a result. Seidi comes in for Hurley and Jordanes Medeiros comes back from injury and replaces Antunes, just in time to help us seal a farewell win over the top side in the league. Hopefully.
And indeed Medeiros starts the first chance of the match, picking up the loose ball after Miranda tackles Caldas’ winger. He plays a nice one-two with Magina before pinging the ball out to Kevin on the left. Kevin starts his run inside and then switches it to Magina, who rounds a defender on the right and drills the ball into the 6 yard box. Who else could possibly be there to tuck the ball home than Jordanes Medeiros. He gets the goal on his swansong appearance and we lead Caldas 1-0.
5 minutes later Caldas’ André Santos smashes a free kick against the bar and Seidi clears, but otherwise we get to half time unscathed and untested.
Our first test actually comes just 10 minutes after the 2nd half kicks off, when a good Caldas passing move ends with Cascão, just inside our box, squaring the ball for Sabino, who effortlessly places the ball into the bottom corner to equalise.
5 minutes after I bring on young Batista for Kevin, because doesn’t it just feel like the kind of “fine margins” match that should be settled by a moment of magic from a teenage substitute?
Alas no, the rest of the match is cagey and it ends 1-1. I will absolutely take a draw away at Caldas though, I would have bitten your hand off for that result before kick off.
And with that our season is over. I feel pretty good about it too. We finish in 2nd place behind our opponents Caldas, who were absolutely rampant in the first round of games, and to be honest we’ve done as well as I could have expected us to.
“You’ve done well for me”, I tell the players with a smile as I stand in the dressing room after the match. “Jordanes, we’ll be sad to see you go, but good luck in the Belgian Pro League. You’ve earned it.” Medeiros smiles and nods. “Cristiano, I didn’t expect to join a club with the 2nd top scorer in the divison.” Magina smiles and nods too. “The rest of you, we’ve got things we can work on, and we’ve got areas that we can improve, but on the whole you’ve all been excellent.” A round of applause echoes around the dressing room. “VAMOS HERÓIS!” I cry, to a chorus of cheers from my team.
I meant nearly every word I said to the team. I’m not sure if I’ll still be here at the start of next Season. I suppose it all depends who comes knocking during the Summer.
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