By Simone F.
“It’s not a sin to fall, but it’s a sin to stay down” – Rod Woodson
That first half from the Royals was abysmal, and a contender for the worst performance in the last four years. Missed passes, soft tackles, and a complete lack of communication early on allowed Vicenza to score first. As a result, for the third time in as many matches the Royals found themselves behind, but this time were unable to rally and push for an equalizer. Instead it was Vicenza who kept on pressing forward, forcing goalkeeper Renato to make at least three decisive saves in the first half. Unable to capitalize on several set piece opportunities, it was a lucky break that allowed the Royals to equalize, when standing captain Michele M. shot from distance, and slipped the ball past the dodgy goalkeeper. Lucky? Perhaps. Against the run of play? Definitely. Vicenza kept on playing and despite senior Giulio S. moving to anchor the defense in the middle, struck again, and had a 2-1 halftime lead.
A dejected team walked back toward the benches, confused and mad at each other. In these cases a captain is needed, someone like Lolo M. or Giovanni A., who weren’t even on the bench. Someone needs to step up and produce something brilliant; someone like Diego, Francesco or Adriano. No. This time the whole team stepped up and rose to the occasion. The second half was a different ball game, with Royals aggression driving Vicenza back, and leading to the equalizer, with Musilli again striking from distance. Vicenza no longer looked dangerous, and the Royals started taking control as they usually do, with Germano and Giulio heading the game from the back and Alex and Arthur controlling the wings, completely changed after the first half. Then it was up to Jean Luc, a player who has had a frustrating season, to strike from a distance, only this time it was a rocket that left his boot and crashed into the top corner, with the goalkeeper having no fault. This gave the Royals the lead for the first time, amongst cheers from the entire team, displaying completely different faces from the first half.
But then, in the Royals’ best moment, disaster struck. A bad foul from my part led to a free kick close to half way, followed by some tensions between Germano and the Vicenza defense, to which even Renato took part, leaving an empty goal for the Vicenza player to chip the ball into. 3-3 and the Royals needed to respond to a goal which even the most passionate Vicenza supporter would agree shouldn’t have counted. What do you do now? Do you lose your head and remain bemused over a referee’s decision? No. The Royals picked the ball out of the net, placed it into the midfield circle, and started off again, with roughly fifteen minutes to conjure up the winning goal. Then, about five minutes later a corner kicked was earned, and I had a chance to put the ball into the box. I hit it sweetly, close to the penalty spot where Alex got his head to it lightly, allowing Amedeo to pick out the bottom corner, and send his team into pure ecstasy. 4-3, and the indication that we would have to live some agonizing minutes of pure suffering and adrenaline, highlighted by Michele going off with cramps, having run more than Kante of Leicester. A combination of character, spirit and passion, leading to the angelic sound of the referee’s final whistle. What more can I say? I’m just proud to have been a part of something great.