Returning to the Ab Jones Complex on Sunday, January 22, Jade Tree United met the top-of-the-table AstraZeneca II Blues.
Jade Tree, now without injured goalie Brian Olden, has put in back-up goalie Jim Brooks full-time. Other significant changes include the addition of Mike Hoffman and Mike Reed to the JTU defense.
In the opening minutes of the game, AstraZeneca II got the first goal of the night off of a powerful shot from mid-field. Shots such as this would prove to be the bane of Jade Tree.
Jade Tree refused to let their spirit dampen, and they surged forward in an attempt to get one back. Mike Leyva made a sweet pass to Victor Alvarez, as Alvarez neatly tucked the ball past the AZ goalie. Alvarez then ran down the sidelines along the JTU side, inciting JTU supporters to erupt in song. Surprisingly, the referee did not see Alvarez’s excessive celebration and he was not reprimanded.
But Jade Tree’s celebration was short-lived. AZII blasted back with goal after goal during the first half, most from well outside the box. The JTU defenses were scrambling to track the AZII offense, but the AZII players always found their way through, making the score a deadly 5-1 at the half.
Jade Tree shuffled some positioning in the second half and looked poised to get into scoring mode.
Having already played a major factor in the night’s game, Mike Leyva made another important contribution as he recovered the ball from a Tim Owen wall ball, chesting the ball down to his feet and hitting it into the net, giving Jade tree 2 against AZII’s now 10.
Mike Reed, the subject of numerous fouls already, was violently and flagrantly fouled and when he was taken out with seven minutes remaining in the match. Reed was unable to leave the pitch and medical had to be called out. After checking Reed for serious injury, JTU took Reed out of the game. Luckily, Reed was more stunned than injured and looks to be fit to play out the remainder of the season.
Jade Tree was not able to recover neither speed nor form, though the team did put together several plays that they were not able to convert. The night ended with AstraZeneca II 12 to Jade Tree United’s 2, keeping JTU at the bottom of the league table.
Jade Tree will not return to league play for the next three weeks. During that time, the team will be training at their camp at Talley Day Park. Manager Darren Walter’s will look to improve his team’s fitness and do some shuffling in the line-up. “I expect there to be some serious changes to our play when we return.” the stern Manager said from the Jade Tree offices. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished. We work hard and we do the best that we can at every match. Unfortunately, that just has not been enough so far.”