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Chances are chances and goals are goals

Chances are chances and goals are goals

On an overcast Saturday afternoon at the start of October 1200 fans came to Maxglan to watch Austria Salzburg beat Neumarkt, the team they kicked out of the cup at the start of the season – so of course it didn’t happen. After 90 minutes it was 2-1 to Austria Salzburg, but although the referee, Mr Jäger, had not seen fit to punish Neumarkt’s time-wasting throughout the second half when the game stood at 1-1, he considered it worth adding on at the end. So a dubious penalty decision went against us and the game ended 2-2.

So after another nightmare week of working from dawn till dusk I find myself finally getting round to writing a synopsis of last Saturday’s action with less than 36 hours to go to the next game. If it goes on like this I will be finishing reports on this season while we are playing in the Europa League. Although before we play in the Europa League we need to collect a few more points, which was the objective of Saturday’s game.
Having already beaten Neumarkt once this season the expectation was that we would beat them again. That’s the way people think. That was my tip – 2-1 for Austria Salzburg. Anything more would be an unnecessary bonus, anything less a disappointment. Maybe that was the mindset the team went out onto the pitch with, because we seemed to be playing with the handbrake on in the first ten minutes – or that’s the standard German idiom. We weren’t firing on all cylinders, we couldn’t seem to get out of first gear, the clutch was slipping, we had a bad fuel mix. I’m looking for a new car at the moment and I think it could be influencing what I write. OK, Neumarkt had obviously started with a game plan: Go at them like mad for 10 minutes – score a goal and defend for 80 minutes.
Surely enough, we were daft enough to let them get at us, and just as last year we had problems defending against Hallwang’s Daniel Kreuzer, this time we were having problems defending against Neumarkt’s Daniel Kreuzer! Kreuzer is not a man the word ‘athlete’ was created for, but because of his size and football brain he wins a lot of balls. He’s tall, strong and can flick on a ball with one accurate touch and completely split open a defence, and he has an uncanny knack of always standing in the right place. On this occasion he was on the end of a long cross nobody else could reach and headed it past Stefan Huber to make it 1-0 for Neumarkt.
Despite the fact that Neumarkt had been going for it for the first ten minutes, we’d had an equal share of the ball and a couple of chances and on another day it would have looked different. But it wasn’t another day so things were the way they were. Honestly, after that there wasn’t much more to Neumarkt’s game than pressing and counter attacks. Salva cranked up the crowd a bit and there wasn’t really anybody who didn’t think we could turn the game around. Neumarkt look like a bunch of desperados and Kreuzer looks like David Ginola. Other than that there was no reason why we shouldn’t get an equaliser.
As the half wore on Neumarkt forays into the last third of the pitch, although dangerous, became fewer and farther between, and we had an ever increasing share of the ball. We created several chances. The only people slowing the game down were the referee and one of his linesmen who, having checked the website, turned out to be his brother. Whistle here, whistle there, offside, yes – no, stop, go, stop, foul, free kick, stop, odd flag up – flag down decisions, fouls that went the wrong way. This, of course, is all my personal opinion, because I am biased towards Austria Salzburg. I’m sure in the real world the ref and the linesmen got everything right and will be refereeing the next world cup final.
On 28 minutes Peter ‘The Animal’ Urbanek finally puts us out of our misery with an athletic header to put us level. 1-1 and with 60 minutes of the game to go a betting man, like QPR Harry, might have risked a new bet: 3-1 to the Austria, 4-1, maybe even 5-1. At that point it seemed a realistic proposition. A conservative better like myself has to consider other factors like the whims of the ref and our own inability to convert chances into goals. Chances are chances – goals are goals.
At half time I wasn’t unduly concerned that we couldn’t get the three points, but I wasn’t overly confident either. Experience tells you that 70% possession, twice as many corners, shots on target etc. all means nothing without converting it all into goals. In the second half we were that dominant, but it was a goal we were waiting for. The later it got, the more Neumarkt began to feel the need to feel their injuries. Mr Jäger seemed to be one of those refs who like to make big decisions and refuses to be pressurised into others. Seen over time the number of cards a ref hands out says something about the way they handle games. Some refs have so much personality that they don’t need cards. This was one of the fairest games of the season but still somehow ended with 7 yellow cards. But this is the wrong place to discuss generalisations about referees. However, that’s the way it panned out. Tons of possession, lots of shots and corners – no goals, no really violent scenes but 7 yellow cards. We had to wait until Marko Vujic managed to get a free past the wall on 79 minutes before we could finally breathe out. 2-1 for Austria Salzburg and it looked more like ending 3-1 than 2-2, but chances are chances and goals are goals.
If there’s something we are really, really good at, it’s conceding goals although the game is already over. We were already winding down in the stands, waiting for the ref to blow for full time when Neumarkt caught us on the break and as you might expect a defender to do, Mario Milic raced in and reached the ball first. However, as you might expect a modern forward to do – the bloke fell over in the usual amateur dramatics style, looking at the referee before he’d even hit the ground. Being a referee who likes to make big decisions, Mr Jäger made a big decision and said it was a penalty. Kreuzer was then given the chance to convert the penalty and... sometimes chances are chances are chances; sometimes chances are goals. No mistaking, this was a goal! 2-2 full time.
If you had seen Mario Milic’s face at the end you would have believed he had just driven over a cute kitten or knocked over a wedding cake. Fact is, nobody blamed Mario for the tackle, because for us it was a tackle and not a foul. Mario Milic is one of the unsung heroes of the new Austria Salzburg; a worker, a team player, an ego-free zone – and people see that. Cheer up Mario!
SV Austria Salzburg - TSV Neumarkt 2-2 (1-1)
Austria Salzburg played with:
Huber; Kreuzwirth, Schmidt, Milic, Hirsch; Urbanek, Borozni (5. Kletzl), Reifeltshammer (70. Neubauer), Mayer, Winkler (63. Wührer); Vujic
0-1: Kreuzer (10.)
1-1: Urbanek (28.) (Assist: Hirsch)
2-1: Vujic (79., free kick) (Assist: Mayer)
2-2: Kreuzer (92., penalty)
Shots: Austria 18 / Neumarkt 8
Shots on target: Austria 5 / Neumarkt 4
Shots blocked: Austria 6 / Neumarkt 0
Corners: Austria 6 / Neumarkt 1
Fouls: Austria 22 / Neumarkt 33
Offsides: Austria 3 / Neumarkt 3
Yellow cards:
Austria: 3 (Schmidt, 15./foul; Vujic, 58./unsporting behaviour; Milic, 92./foul)
Neumarkt: 4 (Emen, 19./foul; Pocev, 43./foul; Stöckl, 70./foul; Goiginger, 84./foul)
Salzburg-Maxglan, MyPhone-Austria-Stadion, 1200 spectators
Ref: Christopher Jäger; Assistants: Mario Schober, Florian Jäger

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