By Mike Fitzpatrick
Shamrocks 0, Gottschee 0 The Shamrocks have goalkeeper Kevin McPartland to thank for an outstanding save in the final 10 minutes in this Cosmopolitan Soccer League game Sunday at Downing Stadium.
Having contributed most of the attacking play throughout the game, Shamrocks were almost shocked by Gottschee’s Rinaldo Chambers, who, having shaken off his marker, unleashed a thundering shot at goal only for McPartland to dive low to his left and prevent a certain winner.
The game opened on an offensive note with Shamrocks’ John Guildea heading over from 10 yards out after some excellent work from Gerard Watson on the left wing.
Gottschee, however, very much the underdog coming into this game, threw themselves at the Shamrocks defense immediately after Guildea’s effort. Chambers followed through on a pass. Gottschee forward Herbert Stooltz outwitted the Shamrock defense and beat McPartland, only to see his effort scrambled off the line by Paul Wilson.
Johann Lannon, of Shamrocks, stepped up a gear midway through the first half, sprinting away from his marker and firing a looping shot toward goal only to see it scrape over the crossbar, in the process creating the game’s best chance.
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But for a commanding performance from Shamrock’s skipper Robbie Walsh at center half, Gottschee’s nippy forwards. Chambers, Stooltz and Carlos Desousa, would certainly have made a lot more of the chances created by their seemingly tireless midfield.
An Alan Hansen like ‘rial display from Walsh prevented any high balls from reaching the tricky feet of Chambers, and Shamrocks 18-year veteran Paul Wilson, at right back, performed efficiently against a creative Gottschee forward line seemingly intent on wreaking havoc upon their supposedly superior opponents.
Gottschee’s Stooltz continued to niggle the Shamrocks defense, bustling awkwardly through the Irish sides back line and distributing passes to Chambers, whose below-par shooting left a lot to be desired. Chambers should have made a lot more of the chances created by his team mates, but his free kicks saddled high and wide, causing no consternation to the Shamrocks.
Terry Lawless did well to prevent Koontz’s persistent one-man assault on the Shamrock goal with a well-timed crunching tackle which left the Gottschee forward wondering where the ball was.
The game entered a lull toward the mid to latter stages of the first half with neither side really penetrating far into the opponent’s side. This was due to a number of factors: the Gottschee forwards were continually outclassed by the excellent defending of Bobby Walsh, and Shamrocks’ lack of firepower up front, due to an increasing injury list, did little to worry defensive kingpin Christopher Tscherme of Gottschee.
Jack Stefanowski, in the Gottschee goal, denied Billy Henderson in the early period of the second half, and minutes later Henderson again found himself in a scoring position only to half volley slightly over the crossbar.
Though Shamrocks did much attacking throughout the second half, they were prevented from scoring by a stubbornly resistant Gottschee defense, marshaled superbly by Christopher Tscherme. At one point, Guildea caused confusion in the Gottschee penalty box, resulting in a pot shot from Paul Wilson, who had lurched forward to assist Shamrocks attack.
Gerard Watson came closest for Shamrocks with two efforts within a minute of each other. One knocked wide for a corner and from the resulting kick, he caught onto the cross to shoot straight into Stefanowski’s hands.
At the other end, McPartland displayed some intelligent goalkeeping, grabbing a high ball from play when the worrying Stooltz was luring in the box.
Niggling fouls resulted in the bookings of Henry Morales and the sending off of Florian Anton, both of Gottschee, in the dying minutes.
The final result was a happier one for Gottschee than Shamrocks. The Irish side were expected to win against their "lesser" opponents, but without their injured strikers, Shamrocks found it difficult to attack successfully. Next week’s game against a stronger side in N.Y. Croatia should really display Shamrock’s strengths more evidently, as they seem to have performed well versus worthier opponents. But, in this game, Gottschee gained a point, while Shamrocks lost two.
Shamrocks: Kevin McPartland, Paul Wilson, Mick Bishop, Mick Hailey, Robbie Walsh, Aidan Welsh, Johann Lannon, Terry Lawless, Billy Henderson, John Guildea and Gerard Watson.