Week 8 saw Rinos take on an improving Sarajevo side who sat just one point behind Rinos in the Div 1 table. The preparation for this must win game was far from ideal. Blue body paint, black eyeliner and silver duct tape did nothing to intimidate our opponents in fact probably led them to believe we were a cross dressing traveling circus. Things went from bad to worse when nature called for the Irish duo of Picket and Bligh who spent the warm up running around Vancouver to find a toilet.
Surprisingly the game opened with Rinos coming straight out of the traps. Moore, Pickett, English and Norton (playing in his farewell game) all had chances to open the scoring within the first 20 mins with O’Sullivan offering some tasty balls down the channels and Stoakes causing the hosts some problems down the left. The pace slowed dramatically after the initial onslaught and we went in at half time feeling frustrated at the performance. There was something missing and Rinos did not seem like a team that were pushing hard for promotion.
After some strong inspirational words from “The Haymaker” at half time the second half was to be a different story. The Rinos midfield went into second gear and quickly began dominating. The breakthrough came on the hour mark. Some good pressure by the lively debutant Abubakar allowed Pickett to break through with the ball. After gracefully skipping by 4 challenges he pulled the ball back to Moore who showed good composure to finish into the bottom corner. Picket again was the star for Rinos second goal. Obviously not being satisfied with only beating 4 players on his last run he left 5 or 6 Sarajevo players dizzy before being taken down inside the box. English stepped up to smash the ball home from the spot after some mind games with the opposing keeper to double Rinos advantage.
It wasn’t long before the game was wrapped up. John “The Beast” Bligh burst out of the defense to charge down a Sarajevo defender. He skillfully played a stunning first time ball (with his left arse cheek) into the path of Moore who beat the last defender to the ball before rounding the keeper for his second and Rinos third.
The normally rock solid Rinos defence gave away a soft goal from a free kick with 10 minutes remaining. This proved nothing more than a consolation. Sarajevo managed one other strong shot on goal in the dying minutes only to be denied by a quality save by Thom (who is looking more like Iker Casillas every week). The impressive second half performance was completed by English with almost the last kick of the game. With the keeper well off his line he executed a quality Beckham like strike to ensure a result that will undoubtedly have the top 3 looking over their shoulders in a promotion race that is far from over. Man (Men) of the Match went to O’Sullivan and Billingham for strong holding midfield performances (Billos hard man tackle I’m sure a major factor in this).
Saturday see’s table toppers Vancouver Olympics come to the fortress that is Point Grey Turf in the biggest game of the season so far for Rinos. We will be without our influential play maker Mark Norton who is heading back to the UK. All the best Mark. Hopefully see you again soon.