With 5 matches to play, we are well and truly coming up to crunch time. I’m not sure how seriously I took our promotion chances at the start of the season, but there’s no doubt that we’ll be in the mix now. Today we host Leiria, a side that we beat 2-0 in our last meeting, and a repeat performance would be just great.
With Big Slav’s request still ringing in my ears, I decide to bring Domingos Quina back into the fold and give Jeferson Paulista a rest. He’s been a revelation since he arrived in Hero Creek, but we’ve got some huge games coming up that I need him to be fresh for.
Amonike has drawn level now with Medeiros’ and Magina’s assist record of 10, but Kevin is catching up. There’s plenty of players in the mix for this record, which just speaks volumes about this squad.
We start brightly. It takes less than 4 minutes for Magina to put the ball through to release Amonike, but the winger’s first time shot, although seemingly destined for the bottom corner, is turned behind well by Bonet.
On the approach to half time I tell Os Heróis to push forwards and attack. We’re nearly punished in injury time when Bernardo’s corner connects with Santiago, who powers his header against the bar.
It’s been another one of those halfs. Another one of those halfs that leave me more underwhelmed than 2008 Robinho when he realised who he’d actually signed for. I give the starters 15 minutes of the 2nd half to impress me, which they don’t, before bringing on Silva and Paulista and hauling off Magina and Quina. Bilic be damned, I want to win.
Over the next few minutes, both teams come close. Silva hits a tame shot into Bonet’s arms and Pereira’s ball over our defence is latched onto by Allef, who goes one-on-one with Azevedo but can’t find a way past our pint sized Keeper.
Keen not to keep our defensive line unnecessarily high and invite Leiria to have another go at that, we go back to trying to control the game. It nearly pays off a few minutes from time when we win a corner. Amonike swings the ball in, Olivier nods it on at the near post and Touré gets his head to it at the far post, forcing an incredible reflex save from Bonet.
Ah well. There’s no argument here to say that either side should have won. In the end, both teams will gratefully take the point, the clean sheet, and then never speak of this match again.
Hopefully though, we can find our form again away at Casa Pia. We drew 1-1 with them at our place so we’re all itching to get the 3 points today. Casa Pia usually line up with a narrow diamond, so we’ll focus our play down the wings. Paulista comes in for Quina, and after his recently outstanding form for our Under 19’s (After bagging 5 goals in his last match, he’s now scored 26 in 26), Wilson Dias gets an actual real life start in place of Magina, who’s had a couple of quiet matches.
We start brightly once again when after just 5 minutes, Paulista strides forwards on the ball and cracks a shot against the bar from 20 yards. Just before the half hour mark though, he steps up to take a free kick in a very similar position to the one that he scored on his full debut. Obviously he powers it straight into the top corner again, because that’s exactly what Elano would have done. 1-0. Vamos Heróis.
Moments later, Hurley lays the ball off for Amonike, who forces a good save from Paulo in the Casa Pia net.
We head out after the break full of piss and vinegar. Paulista continues to pull the strings from the number 10 spot, playing the ball to Dias, who in turn feeds Benjamim, but Paulo is on form again to turn our midfielder’s shot away.
Quina comes on with half an hour to go in place of Kevin, and then Magina replaces Dias with 10 minutes to go. Paulista takes a bit of a knock, but that seems to be all she wrote.
Until the 93rd minute. When Hurley’s sloppy pass goes straight to Marques. Marques plays the ball to Ribeiro, who splits our defence with a through ball, and Rodrigues pokes the equaliser past the on-rushing Azevedo.
Again, I can’t be too critical. I genuinely think that this may be the first time Hurley’s messed up in an Angrense shirt, and it’s cost us a cheap goal and 2 points. But that’s just how it goes sometimes. 2 points in 8 days isn’t the worst tally in the world, although it is slightly annoying. It’s just been a bit of a “Meh” week.
But the only thing that matters to me now is that we still sit at the top of the league. And with 3 matches to play, we’re a nose in front of Mafra in 2nd, but an entire 5 points ahead of Barreirense in 3rd. And somehow we’ve still not been bloody beaten.
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