The global appeal of this competition was on show, once again, as Colombians Alset clashed with MS Select (MSS), from New Zealand, at Ballymoney’s Riada Stadium. Both teams had suffered defeat in their opening game, but with Alset having shipped 10 goals in their opening match, it was intriguing to see how they would recover.
Somewhat surprisingly, their start was as bright as their orange strip as they should have been 1-0 nil up within 20 seconds of the kick off. A great run down the right wing by Juan Sebastian Pena as he tore through the MSS defence, only to shoot straight at the keeper, however the ball rebounded to the feet of Zambrano who smashed the rebound off the cross bar. The pressure continued, and Pena was instrumental in everything Alset produced, as they had a number of good early chances. The sound of the vuvuzelas, from the Colombian fans, penetrating the skies around Ballymoney.
MSS were obviously rattled by the strong start from their opponents, but they slowly gained a foothold in the game. As the first half reached it’s midway point, they had started to gain the upper hand in the possession stakes. However, some poor timing of the runs from their strikers, resulted in a number of offside decisions going against them.
It was only a matter of time before MSS would create some good chances and they had 3 in quick succession, 2 of which fell to Arzan Todywalla who was proving to be a real handul for the Alset defence. It was actually a Todywalla shot which indirectly led to the first goal for MSS, although the Alset reserve keeper will want to forget it. Todywalla had shot wide, leading to a goal kick, but the keeper miskicked, only succeeding in giving the ball straight back to the MSS attacked who fired home the opener.
The second half start as the first ended, with MSS on top, alongside Todywalla you also had Oscar Browne up front who put in an absolutely fantastic shift throughout the match. He chased every ball and gave the Colombian defenders no time and space. He had a couple of early chances in the second half but just could not find the net.
The Colombians, however, did get an equaliser to the delight of their fans. It came as a result of a dubious penalty deicision by a referee. The official pointing to the spot after what looked to be a routine tackle. It was Pena who calmly slotted home the spot kick to level the game. The Colombian player getting the goal his overall play deserved.
The game did turn a little scrappy after this with neither team looking comfortable as the conditions turned quite miserable. However, it took a moment of magic from the game’ best player, Todywalla, to produce a winner. After a lovely ball from midfield, the MSS star showed a great turn of foot as he left the defence in his wake, rounded the keeper and coolly slotted the ball home to the delight of his team. A late strike increased the margin of victory for MSS as they ran out 3-1 winners in an entertaining contest.
By Ray Baxter