A contest to relish
by Steve Mackan (NVQ)
It is with much relish that I begin to blog about Dem Blades once more. Like Brexit, the 2018-19 season has seemed a great distance away whilst, at the very same time, being smack in front of my nose. More important – is it not? – to savour the here and now and, what illustrious Antipasti to start with: Internazionale Milano S.p.A.
Truthfully, my second favourite of the Spa towns, after Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. What Milan lacks in a 78-foot high stone viaduct and idyllic riverside walks, it more than makes up for with its two world-beating football teams, its superb architecture, its historic artwork and, of course, its Pollo alla Milanese.
It was with an olive and celery relish that I first ate a Pollo alla Milanese in 2003. Don Puccos Italian Food and Winery an establishment that sat on the bank in Low Edges, although the branch has now closed, replaced by a delipidated non-bank. That meal is as close as I have ever been to Milan, that was until it was announced that they’d be playing DEM BLADES in a friendly…
Oh boy! What a team, what legends. Such international status. To think of the warm words going their way, and not a single adjective superfluous. That, surely is what the Internazionale players thought, ahead of the game. But what should we expect?
They play in black and blue. They’re from Milan. They have players who sound delicious…their starting XI looks strong.
DEM 90 MINUTES
It was with a great chill relish (Tesco’s own) that I ate me sarnie as the two teams lined up. I love my fusion food and I was minded to mix the Italianness of mozzarella with the Englishness of beef Hula-Hoops and my own maverick flourish of relish and 50/50. I chewed with applause as Tony Currie lapped up the adulation of the crowd, who were adulating because of the Blades legend’s new South Stand status.
The game kicked off and looked every bit a friendly. Not in a bad way, but there was a translucent fog of non-war until John Lundstram crunched an Inter player who was not inter those sorts of challenges. He was subbed off and actually look injured. Like, proper injured not Neymar-style (which I understand is a new term for turning kebab meat).
Anyway, what went on next was a solid enough display, interspersed by some rolling around on the part of Inter, and some decent passing and pressing by the Blades. Inter looked sharper on the counter, yet their illustrious opposition had the better of the ball without looking like scoring every second.
You don’t need to score every second though, do you? Just the once will do. That’s exactly what DEM BLADES did. A passing build-up resulted in John Fleck carrying the ball forward. His neat dink, over the leg of the Fleck-struck centre-half, found the debutant, who chipped the ball over the keeper. Like a small lemon, the finish was sub-lime; McGoldrick showing his precious mettle in the face of a solitary opportunity.
Inter would not lie down. Why would they? It’s a football game after all. Ocado’s range was particularly impressive. The striker was quick, efficient and kept the chaff at bay – gentirification on a football field. It was he who scored the equaliser, a tap-in after neat interplay between himself and Candreva. 1-1. Still, a respectable score against a top team like United.
However, DEM BLADES were almost embarrassed. Ocado found space on the edge of the kerb (box) and almost rifled home a second, but was prevented by the outstretched fingertips of new boy Dean Henderson. That was enough for the teams to go into the break at 1-1.
In the second half, DEM BLADES went on the front foot looking for a winner. Inter played on the back foot looking for a winner, via a counter. It’s a tactic that causes us problems. Championship opposition, look away now!
Anyhow, DEM BLADES made their opponents look bang average. D’Ambrosio was less the creme de la creme and more the creme anglais, née custard. Xian Emmers was not emmers at all but belonged in the back pocket of the Blades midfield. Kwando Asamoah (as do I and mine is a bright, red, grass-cutting beast of Flymo ‘Easy Glide 200’) but his must be lacking a motor.
Changes – substitutions, that is – came thick and fast, like a McDonald’s milkshake in British summertime. Sharp, Duffy, Stearman and Holmes all getting some game time. Duffy and Holmes linked up well at one point with a neat one-two, but Duffy’s blazed over with a curling shot. But chances – clear chances, that is – were few and far between.
Final score 1-1.
It was Henderson’s relish at signing for the Blades, along with his enthusiasm for the Greasy Chip Butty song, that endeared me to him. We might only have him for a season, but in this game, he showed he has the shot-stopping skill in his locker. Which is always good for a keeper.
Egan was solid, no complaints here. McGoldrick looked sharp and took his goal well. My only grumble being John Fleck looking so good that Premier League clubs are surely sniffing…SIGH. Having said all that, it could’ve gone badly. We might have been thrashed. That wouldn’t have looked good, instead, we were unlike the Pollo alla Milanese and anything but chicken.
Which is just as well, because last time out DEM BLADES were poor against Mansfield but I am glad to see how easy it is to draw a line under that.
Time to make like a calzone and call this a wrap.
Man of the Match
Fleck can only have developed and learnt to dominate like he did today, as a result of one man’s actions – Paul Coutts.