EC Rnd 7 Sunday 22nd November, 1998 (postponed from Friday due to rain)
The crowd was a little disappointing given the opposition, however with the game washed out on Friday and the limited publicity (and the dark clouds & lightning before the game) it was fair. Travelled up in an 80mins run, with my two junior Rowdies; and meeting up with Steve Bradbury and Rui Melo we watched the last 15 minutes of the NYL - A 1-1 draw. Breakers keep top spot.
To the firsts game. Marconi should have been confident, sitting 9 points above the Breakers but the past few seasons have seen Marconi go away dissapointed. It was obvious straight from the kick off that Sterrey had orchestrated some play to counteract Marconi so as to catch them out. It worked as the Breakers were on top for the first 15-20 mins with Mark Wilson sinking a beautiful strike after 3. Rui had just asked me what I reckoned the score would be: "1-4" I said (Oh ye of little faith!) "Well that's the one!" Gradually Marconi adjusted and Sean Babic took a great header to totally send Catlin sprawling the wrong way, to even the scores only 8 mins in. Nevertheless the first half would have been Newcastle's on points with Covic looking shakier than Catlin and Freddy Umlil's header seeming to somehow strike the inside of the upright and then bounce out (fans see strange things). Probably the best half I've seen from the Breakers in the 4 games I've seen this season, with Catlin dominant and the defence solid.
The Rowdies were small in number and strangely quiet however as the second half unfolded it was, hope being eternal, getting possible that Newcastle would hold onto the draw, despite Marconi's growing upper hand. What had been interesting was that after the first few mins, when I was yelling "someone pick up Maloney", Sterrey had Roberts doing a superb job on him. The problem is then you can sub Trajanovski on and he doesn't get picked up right away! Just when I felt they could do it Roberts, under pressure from Maloney, doesn't rely on Catlin but pokes his boot at the ball and sends an own goal past Bobby's outstretched fingers! Arrgggh! The Breakers to their credit did try to pull the goal back but were just unequal to the task, although 17yr Chris Tancheski provided some life and a great header from little Johnny had us hoping.
Marconi were perhaps lucky to go down the M3 with the points to hold 2nd spot, whereas the Breakers wallow at 14th again. Chairman Collins stated to a few Rowdies after the game - we need 3 or 4 quality players but how do we pay for them?" Not by selling the the stadium idiot!
Best for Breakers: Catlin, Roberts, Pryce