April 19, 2011
Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association – Belfast, Ireland
Ireland 0 – 0 Canada
Prior to the start of the match a brief but eloquent ceremony was held to recognize the achievements of Rob Short and Ken Pereira for having now represented Canada for an unprecedented 318 matches.
The second of three matches started in the same manner and form as the first match. However, the Irish team was now playing with a number of new players, back home after their various European club responsibilities. The game immediately became another contest of control of the midfield.
It wasn’t until the 6th minute that Canada was able to generate its first short corner. The powerful low drag flick was well executed, but the Irish keeper was equal to the task and made a good stick save directing the ball off the pitch.
Both teams were able to generate attacks into each teams respective circles, but neither team could create any clear opportunities.
By the 18th minute Ireland was able to penetrate deep into the Canadian circle earning its first and only short corner for the half. They executed a good drag flick towards the glove side of Dave Carter, but Jesse Watson was well placed and safely directed the ball out of danger.
As the half continued Canada would start with a strong build-up and start to influence the possession and flow of the play. However, the Irish defence was up to the task and prevented Canada from mounting any serious threat.
By the 26th minute Ken Pereira was able to make an effective drive into the Irish circle and generate Canada’s last corner for the half. The initial stop of the corner was fumbled by the Canadian stopper, which resulted in Canada struggling to get a shot away. They eventually able to, but the weak shot was easily managed by the Irish defense.
With no further significant mistake or plays the half ended with the game score remaining 0 – 0.
The second half started with neither side being able to generate any significant attacks on goal.
In the 47th minute of the game this all changed. The Irish earned their first of two short corners for the second half. This corner started with a low drag flick. Dave Carter skilfully kicked the ball hoping to clear the circle. An Irish forward was able to stop the ball however and return another hard and well placed shot. Carter, barely visible behind the players now scrambling in the front him, was again well placed and made another instinctive stop with his kicker. The clear was once again to an Irish defender who unleashed an excellent shot to the opposite side of the goal. Yet another spectacular dive by Carter and what looked to be a sure goal was deflected harmlessly wide of the net.
Just three minutes later, the Irish growing with confidence, were able to obtain possession of the ball near mid field and mount an effective attack. This resulted in Dave Carter having to challenge an Irish attacker at the top of the circle. In order to prevent an Irish goal Carter made contact with the ball just outside the circle. This resulted in an automatic short corner and Carter receiving a yellow card.
With Carter now forced to the sidelines for five minutes Canada called it’s elder statement Rob short to become a ‘kicking back’. With Carters helmet on and chest protector Short took up the keeper position to defend the Irish short corner. Once the ball reached the top of the Canadian circle the Irish stopper mishandled the ball and Canada was successful in defending the corner.
The next five minutes brought a new energy to the game as Canada, without its goal keeper, had to defend with a player down. Much to the delight of any Canadian fan present we were successful in holding of the Irish team.
With Carter having returned to goal it appeared that the game may return to a game of possession and minimal opportunity, but to the Irish’s credit they almost changed all that when they advanced through the Canadian circle and make an excellent pass across the top of the circle to a well-positioned Irish forward. With a well-timed hit the ball appeared to be heading into the Canadian goal, but rattled off the lower part of the cross bar and exited the circle.
For the remaining fifteen minutes the game took on an entirely new complexion. The play became an end to end exchange of goal scoring opportunities.
In the last minutes of the game Canada was able to generate at least three excellent scoring opportunities, but were unable to finish.
With both teams going end to end for the remainder of the game the fans witnessed an exciting game,. The contest did however expose areas the Canadians must address prior the pan American Games in October in Mexico if they want to win and return to London in 2012.
Congratulations to Ken Pereira and Rob Short for reaching the unthinkable 318 Caps for Canada.
Canada’s next match is against the Irish at 7:30 pm, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
DNP: Antoni Kindler, Kevin Laidman, Devohn Texeira