As I make my way up to a good vantage point in the stands of Estádio Municipal de Angra do Heroismo, I turn and look at the players warming up. My eyes scan their faces, searching for someone I’ve been told to look out for.
“Where is he then, Vitor?” I ask, as I turn to face Vitor Azevedo, SC Angrense Head of Youth Development and no relation to our goalkeeper.
“There he is”, he smiles, pointing out a young lad in the middle of the park.
There’s a real buzz amongst the youth staff about Rodrigo Silva. He’s a 16 year old local lad and has already been offered a contract with the Under 19’s squad. This match is a mere formality for him. He’s a holding midfielder with a growing reputation for making the right decisions and being difficult to push off of the ball.
Silva and the other candidates will face off against our Under 19 side. Well I say that, but it’s pretty much an Angrense B team. Most of the side is made up of players who’ve had a run in the first team at some point. In fact, in their defence is 3 quarters of the defence that started for the first team last season, so it’ll be a tough test for the young ones.
The Under 19’s take the lead early on in fortunate circumstances when Leão’s deflected shot runs through for Thiago, and the centre midfielder pokes the ball past the keeper.
The 25th minute gets my nostalgia tingling when O Capitão and Under 19’s Manager Gonçalo Valadão hits the post with a powerful free kick, but then after half an hour, goalscorer Thiago pushes Ribeiro in the box and young Rodrigo Silva confidently wallops the youth candidates’ penalty into the net.
Before half time Xéxé’s low cross is bundled in by Arruda to put the Under 19’s back in front. They hold onto the lead through the 2nd half despite the youth candidates dominating. Andrade hits the woodwork and Serginho is forced into good saves by Amorim and Rodrigo Silva, but they fail to find the equaliser.
Promising stuff from the youth candidates. They went down swinging against a much more experienced side and I’ll be keeping an eye on them. Rodrigo, the jewell of the side, faired very well in the “Benjamim” role of Project: Meatloaf. He showed a willingness to get forward to support attacks and did well defensively, as well as staying composed for the penalty.
In terms of our first team, it’s time for Casa Pia to come to town. Casa Pia are the side that lost in the Promotion play-offs last year after finishing 2nd in Group B. They’re one of the favourites to go up along with União da Madeira, who we play in a couple of weeks.
We’ll set up with Project: Meatloaf with focus down the wings, as we do when a team sets up in a narrow shape like Casa Pia’s narrow diamond. That means we keep Coelho in at left back for his ability to attack. In fact, the only change we make from our victory over Barreirense is that Vitor Miranda comes back in for Luciano Serpa as his suspension has ended.
Oh, and another record is looming for Cristiano Magina! Unsurprisingly, he’s on course to break the record for Number of goals in a Portuguese Championship season. And he wanted me to sell him for £30k.
The first half is largely uneventful until Casa Pia’s right back João Damil gets free and whips in a cross for Rodrigues, who controls the ball and finishes calmly to put the home side ahead with 5 minutes to play before the break.
The only action in the 2nd half comes about just after the hour mark when Kevin, making his 200th Angrense appearance, releases Diogo Coelho on the left wing. Coelho swings the ball into the area and Magina rises above the centre backs to power the ball home.
We try to play more methodically around Casa Pia’s penalty area, we try to attack, we try to pass the ball into space and we try roaming with more freedom from our positions, but nothing I tell us to do breaks the deadlock.
The game fizzles out, we keep our unbeaten run going with a credible draw, and Magina edges closer to a league record. I think we’ll take that. We do slip down to 2nd in the League behind Mafra, but I’m not too concerned. Partially because with each match that passes we’re proving more and more that we’ve got what it takes to go up against anyone in this division, and partially because we play them next.
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