3.9.04

Taking the lead


The strangest things do sometimes happen. You know how it is: you have resigned yourself to seeing your team getting taken to pieces by one of the best teams in the world. You switch the TV on, more in hope than expectation. Things do not auger well when the hosts misplace the CD with the national anthems - 'is this mindgames?' you think (you flatter yourself that the top ten ranked opposition feel they need to engage in psychological games with a team that barely scraped into the top 100, slightly above the Bahamas). Then the game begins and the tackles are flying in as your team scrap for every ball and refuse to give their greater-skilled opponents any time to settle on the ball. Soon two of your players have picked up yellow cards, but the opposition is rattled: they are not used to such physical challenges. Soon they are making mistakes: they rush their passes and give away possession. Slowly but surely the screw turns, and the ball seems always to be moving in the direction of their goal. First one cross ball, caught in the wind, passes untouched through a ruck of players in the six-yard box, only to be cleared off the line by the last defender. Next a player is pushed off the ball near the corner flag, and the referee awards a free-kick. The ball is floated in with pace at head height. The wind makes it difficult to determine the flight of the ball. The defender doesn't want to take any chances, so he puts his head on it, steering it away from his goalkeeper and into the back of the net. GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL. Scotland take the lead. In the second half, the opposition bring on their top player. Soon all the play is in Scotland's half as they creep closer and closer to the inevitable goal. Then, out of nowhere, PENALTY to Spain. Raul never misses, and this is no exception. It's all square. Spain now look like they are going to kill us off when, unexpectedly, the park is plunged into darkness. Powercut. The referee tells the players to return to the dressing-rooms. The heavens open and heavy rain falls on the dark pitch and the fans begin to leave in droves. The match is abandoned after 60 minutes. The score stands at 1-1. Now, if this could happen at all of Scotland's games, we would be world champions!

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