Emre Caliskan is evidently overcome by his first goal for The Iron as David Yesaya looks on aghast.
It is becoming apparent that Gastown FC is a fair-weather footballing side. Once again, a beautiful summer’s eve in Vancouver’s downtown east-side meant another resounding victory for The Iron. Popping the tags on their black Umbro kit with white sleeves, Gastown were in eye-catching form, the football wasn’t bad either. The return of several key members of the team (Poulsen, Whelan, and Yesaya) allowed Captain Parrott to pick his preferred 4-5-1 formation which paid dividends early in the first half, and put the game beyond doubt in the second as the pitch opened up.
Gastown started the game brightly passing the ball calmly at the back, building patiently into midfield. They were happy to contain the ball and get a feel for an opponent that had drafted in at least three players from the VMSL’s Premier Division, some 6 leagues above The Iron’s Division 3C berth. In a dominant opening spell, most joy was found down the right hand side through the pacy, clever and tireless running from Steve Mah. It was one of these runs that instilled panic in the Europa left-back who struggled to deal with a chip over the top from Silvio Ruprah. Mah pounced on the mistake, surging into the box before being hauled down like a small Asian wildebeest by two stripped-for-pace defenders. Despite moving early and guessing correctly, the Europa goalkeeper was unable to keep out white-hot striker, Silvio Ruprah’s penalty that was lashed unerringly into the bottom left corner. The Paraguayan/Nepalese/Togolese/Mexican leads the league scoring chart with a clinical return of four goals in as many games.
Conceding early seemed to rouse the Europa players, and confuse Gastown’s who were unsure whether to build on the lead or protect it for a while. In the end they did neither, often surrendering possession too quickly in midfield. Europa’s tactic was to clip balls over the top which would hold up on the dry Astroturf, allowing their speed king attacker to exploit the relative lack of pace (we call it experience) of the Gastown central defensive partnership. On a couple of occasions The Iron were thankful for returning goalkeeper Jack Whelan who essentially played as a sweeper-keeper. The young Briton would sustain a rather nasty hit to the head/jaw from a late challenge; something for which Taylor Willms would not stand, talking himself into the book in the process. Minutes later, maybe lacking confidence, Whelan was a touch slow coming out of his area to clear, allowing the on-rushing attacker to charge down the goalkeeper’s headed clearance. The ball fell kindly to the attacker, who was left with the simple task of tapping the ball into the unguarded net from a tight angle. The final ten minutes of the half would see The Iron return to the ascendency, testing the Europa keeper who saved well with his legs on more than one occasion.
The second half saw a change of personnel; Steve Mah was carried away atop the shoulders of a bevy of female fans at half time, so he had to be replaced by Felix Wong. The young winger would score his first goal of the season, an absolute cracker, within minutes of play restarting. A quick throw from Whelan to Amr Amin started the move whose crisp pass to Yesaya was laid off first time to Emre Caliskan. After a swift one-two with Taylor Willms released the Turk down the left wing, he played a perfectly weighted chip into the box with a deft flick of the right boot which was met by an airborne Wong. The young winger opened his body superbly to guide the ball across goal with a side-footed volley leaving the Europa keeper with no chance. Caliskan’s day would improve further as a lofted through ball from Parrott (who put in a midfield display so tenaciously tough-tackling, this writer wonders why he doesn’t do it more often) was misjudged by the goalkeeper who hesitated, allowing Emre to leap like a Karagöz and nod over him into the gaping goal from 12 yards. The icing on the cake was big-man Ryan Gladpran’s finishing master class as he did a goal of some quality. Collecting the ball from Wong on the right wing, the big-fella turned on a sixpence turning his marker inside-out before curling the ball Henry-style into the bottom corner with his left peg. Having done a goal and sensing that his heart-rate was dangerously high, Gladpran re-retired to the sidelines; a 10 minute job well done.
The Iron proudly sit atop the league table on goal difference over Europa FC and with a game in hand. Gastown will no doubt be delighted with the efficiency of their 4-5-1, the tackling and distributing qualities of Parrott and Yesaya respectively allowed the orange-booted Turk to create some magic in the final third. Furthermore, the performance of Ruprah as an all round centre forward underlines The Iron’s ability to mix it up, keeping opponents guessing. Next week sees them take on fellow high-flyers BG Lions who are only a point off the pace, a game which could give the east-side collective some breathing space.
Ironman of the match: Emre Caliskan.
Not racist cos he's Asian quote of the day: "I don't know why that guy is playing there. He's not very quick, and we've got a small Asian on the pitch and two more small Asians on the bench. What did they expect?!" - Felix Wong in no way generalises when he says that all small Asians are tricky and fast.
Next match: vs. BG Lions - June 6th, 20:00 Point Grey. Form Guide: WWWL