After just a 5 week turnaround from the bruising opening ensemble on a rough and robust Barcelona turf Valencia’s men’s team travelled with an understrength team with the fearsome four. With a full squad assembled in Barcelona seething anticipation for the seasons prospects was clear. However the trek to Coruña proved a little difficult so Trainer Liam, Danny, KJ and Adriano were left to fly the flag for Sant Vicent Valencia. Former club greats Adam Whyte and Cormac De Bhroin were huge additionals to the matchday team and together as the comaradarie and patterns of play developed they proved to be a serious force all day long.
Valencia started the day in strong fashion against the newcomers Irmandihios 2nd team. Early encounters showed that the Valencian lads weren’t too accustomed to the grass pitches in Galicia as some passes went astray and players losing their footing. After the patchy start, the team settled into thir stride with excellent defensive work from Adriano allowing KJ to set up attacks for Liam and the sharpshooter Danny. Playing with some slight variations in the team, VLC were helped greatly from a selection of Fillos 1st and 2nd team players. Valencia came strong after quite an easy victory.
Facing Irhmandinhios first team on their Galician turf was always going to be a tough test, and even more so with a weakened squad . But the lads made a positive start with a great competitive spirit. Once again, the Valencia midfield showed their commitment and enthusiasm for the game by garnering enough possession to allow Danny and KJ to build up a healthy early lead. Irhmandinos who seem to have a stronger team every time we lock horns. Despite the early advantage the closing part of first half showed very little difference between the two teams with some great points scored from both sides. However, Valencias greater ability to hold the ball in possession proved to be highly effective at creating goal scoring opportunities, which kept Irhmandinhos´s defence on their toes. With some strong running Liam, Adam and Danny created sufficient scoring chances and frees which were duly converted to secure the win.
Before the third game with Estrada the referee informed us that, with the scores and goal differences as they were, this would for all intents and purposes be a semi-final, which would allow the winner the chance to square up to Madrid in the final. With this in mind Valencia started very strong, yet we were met with equal strength and passion from Estrada. Throughout the match there was never more than a point or twos difference between the two teams, which made for a fantastic game to both play and watch –. Estrada´s defensive strategies seemed to be working well to prevent some powerful forward plays from Adam, Liam and KJ, with Danny working especially hard to try and gain possession against a packed Estrada back line. The Galician side’s strength and organization showed what they topped their provincial table as it became increasingly difficult for Valencia to break them down, despite winning a lot of possession around the middle and some exceptional defensive play by Adrian. With some well structured forward play and the speed of Ruben up front Estrada were able to creep into the lead. Tensions escalated towards the end of the game when Valencia scored a point, but both teams were to scored once more to leave the final semi final scoreline level; Certainly this was the most exciting and enjoyable games of the day, and the pulsating game continued into extra time. Valencia faced a clever defensive system in Estrada and their high fitness levels and greater level of organization meant that Danny couldn’t get enough space to kick his team into the lead. The Valencian boys were going toe-to-toe with the leaders of the Galician league, a team that clearly wanted to build on their run of success. The opening period of Extra time showed the sheer determination of both teams to reach the final. Some very close marking and determination to get behind the ball halted Adam, KJ and Liam in their attempts to set up scoring opportunities. Estrada´s speed of breaking forward and good passing abilities kept Adrian on his toes, but he really came of age and stood up to make some brilliant interceptions in his first full season with the team, as
With the sides level drawing close to the end of extra time the defensive lines from both sides worked hard holding off some strong attacking moves and the teams continued to give all they could to the game. As the end of the game raced towards us tensions Valencia were awarded a free which was duly coverted to leave the game all square, and for the first time in the Iberian championship, a game was to be decided by penalities. As each and every team member had given their best to the game and with the lads feeling that they had no more to give, this disappointment was only short lived as five penalities had to be taken.
An enthralled crowd of spectators gathered round the elected goal where the shoot out was to take place. Estrada, it was said, had the obvious advantage with their experience as an 11-a-side soccer team but the Valencian boys put on their game face and entered the unknown. KJ was duly selected as the goalkeeper with the remaining 5 valencian players stepping up to take their spot kick. Liam, our coach for the season, despite a weakish penalty proved to be our only spot kick scorer in a shootout that highlighted the excellent shot stopping ability of the dreadlocked Estrada keeper. A long semi final and a near hour of packed entertainment was truly enjoyed bu all and sundry. Valencia men could hold their heads up high for their efforts even though their weary legs needed a rest.