Kickoff: 8pm Friday February 11, 2011 at Andy Livingstone East
In their 2nd of 3 league make up games, Rino’s put on a soccer clinic against a young, hungry Croatia side. The two teams met in monsoon conditions early in the season and Rino’s edged the Balkan boys by a narrow 1-nil margin. Croatia came into this match unbeaten in their last 7 outings, however Rino’s recent form was even more impressive as they were riding a 5-game winning streak during which they had outscored their opposition 22-2!
It didn’t take long for Rino’s to warm up in this one as Greg Crompton made a fine run down the left flank and whipped in a cross that was poorly handled by the Croatia defence. Their attempted clearance only made it as far as Tim Pritchard and he wasted little time in lashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Still dazed by the first goal, the suspect Croatia defence was again at odds shortly thereafter when a thrown in was flicked into the box by Tommy Nolan. The Croatia goalkeeper came forward to collect the ball, but was beaten to it by Vinny Martin who leaped up and headed the ball right through the keeper’s outstretched arms! 2-0 to Rino’s and the match was barely 10 minutes old. With a comfortable lead Rino’s seemed to take their foot off the pedal and Croatia gradually got back into the match. After some sustained pressure, the ball wound up on the foot of Croatia’s portly centre midfielder and he unleashed a powerful drive from 30 yards out that rippled the back of the net and gave the Croatians hope for a comeback. The rest of the half was evenly played and the score remained 2-1 at the interval.
The 2nd half saw 3 changes in the midfield as Declan Hill, Shawn Wilhelm, and Jordan Atkinson all entered the game. The changes paid immediate dividends as Rino’s were again bossing the game, and Vinny Martin notched his 2nd goal of the match with a long range effort that kissed the post and beat the sprawling Croatia keeper. With the 2-goal lead restored, the visitors showed that they had learned from their earlier mistake and continued to take the game to the young Croatians. After a nice bit of passing Jordan Atkinson eluded his defender, cut inside from the right wing and picked out Tim Pritchard in the penalty area who stroked the ball home for his 2nd and the team’s 4th goal of the match. Before the final whistle, Tim Pritchard was able to complete his hat-trick as he met a well-placed cross from Robin Davies with a powerful header into the top corner of the goal. Rino’s 5 – Croatia 1 was the final, and Rino’s had their 6th consecutive victory.