MATCH REPORT: Armley FC (Res) 3:1 Republica
Republica were unlucky to lose an ill-tempered encounter with long-term rivals FC Armley Reserves this Sunday. Despite competing fiercely against an extremely aggressive opposition, the Reds were eventually undone by some terrible luck as an own goal and a mishit cross condemned them to a defeat despite Kam Naar’s second-half penalty.
The Reds started this match with a 4-4-1-1 formation featuring Josh Moos back in goal; a back four of Jordan Thomas, Liam Moran, Nathan Crawley and Jack Smith; a midfield of Abdelwahab Osama, Josh Booth, Seamus Lundy and Stephen Graham; and Matty Booth playing in behind Greg de Boer up front.
It was clear from the outset that Armley’s plan was to launch balls over the top and bombard the away penalty area with long throw-ins and other set pieces on their narrow home pitch. However, it was Republica who threatened first when Josh Booth found space outside the box and sent a stinging right-footed effort just over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Republica were unfortunate to find themselves behind when Moran tidied up a loose ball and looked to pass the ball back to Moos but only succeeded in finding the bottom corner of the net, giving Armley a 1-0 lead. Soon afterwards, an injury to Lundy meant that Naar entered the fray and the Reds switched to a more conventional 4-4-2. The rest of the half passed with ferocious competition in the middle of the park and only rare sights of goal. Moos did well to save from a one-on-one and a well-struck effort from range whilst Republica threatened when the Armley keeper was pressured from a ball into the box and the ensuing scramble saw a couple of players go close before the ball was eventually cleared.
After half-time, Armley started on the front foot but Republica grew in confidence and - after Mahmoud Khdeir had replaced Osama on the right - Kam Naar picked the ball up inside the Armley half and turned his man inside out before being chopped down inside the box. It was such an obvious foul that even FC Armley had no complaints. Naar picked himself up, dusted himself off, and slotted home the penalty low to the goalkeeper’s right. With the score at 1-1 Matty Booth fired just wide from a couple of decent chances and Moos made a brilliant save to tip a shot onto the bar. A huge stroke of luck was needed to beat the keeper again and Armley were fortunate when their winger’s sliced cross swirled in the wind and crept over Moos’ head and into the net. Minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead when their midfielder controlled a headed clearance and arrowed a finish into the top corner, the only Armley goal to come from an actual shot! Wadah Alhasan was introduced up top for de Boer following the goal and made an impact as he linked up well with Naar ran in behind the Armley defence. Barring another goalmouth scramble where Khdeir was unlucky to see a shot blocked and some long range efforts, Republica struggled to put too much more pressure on their opponents and the match ended with the score 3-1 to Armley.
Despite the end result, the Reds had produced a good performance in response to the disappointing display the previous week against Pudsey. It was especially pleasing to see the team keep their heads in face of aggressive, physical opponents. Liam Moran won this week’s man-of-the-match award after a towering performance at centre back, more than making up for his own goal.