It’s the business end of the season and, with Stegman’s Old Boys clinging to the final playoff place by a mere two points, Sunday’s match at home against BEEF United is shaping up to be a crunch match.
The first meeting of these two teams was a cracking game, with the SOBs struggling to find their rhythm early before a wonder-goal from Dave Tesch seemed to settle his side and bring order to proceedings. The second half was far more comfortable and the Old Boys eventually ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, but will be wary of the pace and energy that United showed in the first half.
“United was ascendant in the early going” said General Manager Nick Sindt, “and they had us on the ropes. A slow start, especially on our small pitch, which brings their speedy midfielders more quickly into dangerous areas, could be dangerous for us.”
In addition to the attacking threat that United showed, there was no little amount of steel in their play – much of it beyond the bounds of the rules of the game. “I’m a hot little potato about a certain tackle from behind” said Dan Hoedeman, “it won’t affect my van Bommel-esque ability to tackle hard without raising the ire of the referee, but it will certainly add some spice to Sunday’s clash.”
The Old Boys will have to face United without linchpin midfielder Cole Erickson, out with an ankle injury picked up in the U17 Regional Tournament two weeks ago. “Losing Cole, likely for the season, is a big blow for us” said Manager Jon Bisswurm, “he has been a massive and energetic presence in the center of the park and we’ll have to look to tactical and personnel adjustments to cover.” Forward Nick Sindt is also out, his knee troubles sidelining him for at least four weeks. “Another challenge for us” said Bisswurm, “Sindt had found his scoring touch and we’ll miss his goal threat. At least his wife has let him sleep in the bed or it would be a long four weeks for the man.”
Coupled with the suspension of defender Robby Peichel, unavailability of winger Alex Haueter and the questionable fitness of the returning defender Ben Savitt, there are major selection dilemmas for the manager.
The good news is the return of forward Dan Erickson and defender Dan Hoedeman, which should help to ease slightly the manager’s teamsheet headaches.
“I’ve been extremely busy in the FIFA lab in the past few days” said Bisswurm “and I plan to stay in the FIFA lab until I’ve come to the optimal solution for Sunday’s challenge. And no, I’m not returning my girlfriend’s calls until I am finished!”