Season 2016/17
    2nd Team Match Reports


22/04: RBBFC2 3-3 Forestois SC
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Line-up: Puig, Si M’Hammed (O’Connor), Lachia, Bon, Pellegry, Friedrichs (Legere), McGirr, Brown, Pereira (Guarnaccia), Takeda (Gonzalez), Deschamps

RBBFC 2s took on Forestois SC at Fortress Rosieres for their final game of the 2016/17 ABSSA season. RBBFC knew that victory would assure them of 4th place in Division 2A, crowning them as the best second team in ABSSA for the second year running (by factor that the other second divisions looked pretty weak...).

Whilst this is an achievement of which they should be proud, the season will be tinged with disappointment for RBBFC, as it will not match their title winning achievements last time around.  Was it a lack of regular players, better opponents, age, fitness or just a worse performance from a team that knew they could not be promoted?

Either way, the players will know that with a fairer wind they could have put up more of a challenge. It’s a real shame that this generation of second team players for RBBFC could not achieve their "triple crown” of three titles in a row, and add a third championship to a successful year for the club as a whole.

The players arrived early in the afternoon, getting in the mood for a historical day by entering the arena in a glorious rouge chariot along with the 1st team who had already confirmed their 6thABSSA title. Forestois arrived a little less theatrically, but time would show they were no less determined.

The day of celebration was also a day of sadness as it drew a period of the club’s history to an end – Alistair "My Girl” McGirr was leaving for pastures new as his work permit had expired. Luckily there will continue to be "a British” within the RBBFC2 contingent as Pellegry still qualifies for residency in Belgium through 4 of his 7 or so passports.

El Capitano gave an impassioned send-off to McGirr during his pre-game speech, thanking McGirr for bringing his qualities on and off the pitch, but recommending he speak more slowly and clearly in the future. Noticing that this speech sent the ever emotional Si M’Hammed over the edge, El Capitano tried to lighten the mood by suggesting he would be leaving too. Knowing El Capitano could never leave his troops, Si M’Hammed doubted whether McGirr was actually going. Legere even declared that McGirr will never leave #experience.

RBBFC 2s were strengthened as they welcomed Brown, Lachia and Takeda into the side once again. However, a last minute bureaucratic error, of the type unknown in Belgium meant that Legere would have to use all of his wit and charm to ensure he could have a last opportunity for some sexual football, before he headed off to the Vets next year. After repeatedly apologising for having insulted the referee on multiple occasions over the years, thankfully common sense prevailed and Legere was given permission to play. However, given the timing of this administrative fix, it would have to be from the bench.  Pereira came in to replace Legere, and Brown moved into the middle.

At first this change didn’t seem to impact RBBFC, as they had the better – particularly in territory – of the cagey opening exchanges. As the half wore on, RBBFC became looser in their passing, and the absence of Legere became more apparent. The more passes that went afield, the more the tension set in, which in turn made the quality of their passing deteriorate. A virtuous spiral.

It was this loose passing which led to an early lead for Forestois. A succession of stray passes ended with the ball being gifted to the Forestois striker behind the RBBFC midfield, and with the backline split, he had a clear run on goal.  Taking this opportunity to break clear, the Forestois player then knocked the ball across the box for the simplest of finishes for his teammate, leaving El Capitano with little chance. GOAL 0-1, FORESTOIS.

Unfortunately this early set back didn’t spur RBBFC to improve their play, with passes continuing to go adrift, and RBBFC creating little incisive play with the space they were provided. RBBFC pushed on, trying to force things by the sheer weight of numbers, moving bodies higher up the pitch. This impatient strategy further contributed to their undoing, as Forestois caught RBBFC 3 on 2 in a counter attack.  The Forestois striker managed to use sheer pace to get a sight on goal, and to the surprise of El Capitano, he took his shot early before he could close him down.  Whilst not the best struck of efforts, the ball found the bottom corner as the RBBFC captain hadn’t had an opportunity to set himself. GOAL 0-2, FORESTOIS.

RBBFC now knew they were in a game, but will regret having to go two nil down to realise this.  Slowly, RBBFC improved, looking more and more dangerous as they went back to basics to feel their way into the game.  This patience paid off, as RBBFC pulled one back.  After a corner broke down, the ball fell to the feet of Bon Bon and rather than snatch at goal, he laid the ball into the path of Brown 8 yards from goal, who made no mistake in diverting the ball right into the side netting. GOAL 1-2, BROWN.

Half-time came with RBBFC boosted by having narrowed the deficit just before the break, and knowing that they could use the momentum to springboard themselves ahead in the game. Changes were made to freshen up the game, with Legere, Gonzalez and Pellegry coming on to replace Friedrichs, Pereira and Takeda. Gonzalez in particular, had a look of someone that wanted to do some damage – like a Spanish Travis Bickle.

With a little half time criticism and a touch of encouragement from El Capitano, RBBFC started the second half at a much higher tempo and a new found purpose. This tough and tender love from El Capitano paid off. After a quick succession of passes between Deschamps and super-sub Gonzalez, RBBFC drew back level as Gonzalez tucked away a delightful square ball across the six-yard box. GOAL 2-2, GONZALEZ.

Having drawn level, RBBFC continued with their increased intensity, but they didn’t manage to fashion the openings they had opened in the early passages of the second half. Yet they kept knocking. Knocking, that was until they got sucker punched by Forestois, and RBBFC were their own worst enemy once again. After a string of set pieces that RBBFC were having difficulty in rebuffing, the ball fell invitingly to a waiting Forestois player. Having anticipated where the ball may end up, he made no mistake with his effort, sweetly striking his volley in to the bottom corner. GOAL 2-3, FORESTOIS.

The goal visibly drained the impetus from RBBFC as the game had swung in Forestois’ favour. Yet, RBBFC toiled on, with the second half wing backs Si M’Hammed and Pellegry continuing to pound up and down either flank attempting to craft an opening. For all this effort it looked as though RBBFC would fall short and slump into a depressing end to what was a disappointing season. 

That was until Gonzalez and Deschamps refuse to give up hope. After another quick flurry of passes down the left, the ball once again fell to Gonzalez who tucked his chance away with ease to draw the game level. GOAL, 3-3 GONZALEZ.

The equaliser brought a resurgence to the spirits of the RBBFC players. However, time was limited and legs were heavy, as the remaining minutes of the game ebbed away and Forestois looked content to take their well earned point back from Fortress Rosieres. Not even the late entry of auxiliary forward O’Connor was able to unlock, or more accurately, bludgeon open the door.

The referee blew his whistle to call time on the game, and drew the 16/17 season to a close.  The game finished 3-3, and whilst neither side were overjoyed with their solitary point, it was RBBFC that looked the more down-hearted as cheap goals and a lack of creativity had their influence on the end result.

Game done, Season done. On what should have been a joyful occasion, the players were visibly dejected. The draw had put a downer on the end of season atmosphere in the changing room. The critical analysis and finger pointing had started.

But as Fred popped open the leftovers of his favourite Bordeaux burgundy and Groundskeeper Jimmy brought some of Wallonia’s finest Champagne for the players to quaff, the mood lightened and the team reflected on their season together. The ups and downs, the ins and outs (and ins again). The players looked around knowing that some players were going and others were less certain about their future, contemplating the effort, joy and comradery that each and everyone had brought to make this another special season for the second team.

The summer brings many questions and uncertainties ahead of a new season, but without a doubt, some things will remain unchangeable – There will be fingers.

This will also be this reporters last scribblings, bringing an end to three years of writing prose that only a few in the team could understand. I once received a request by Guarnaccia, to make my reports more readable for the non-native speakers in the team and the wider fan base – he of course told me a long story beforehand – "Ali, I remember when I was studying in Durr-ham...”. I considered changing my style, but decided against it, because it is the differences that makes it fun – in football and in life. All I can say, is thanks for giving pleasure, and not just taking. Vamosh whites.

Arrivederci...

MoM and reporter: Alistair "MyGirl" McGirr

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