Monday, October 10, 2011

Montenegro, Germany and Croatia October 2011

Three games starting in Germany, from there to Montenegro and ending in Croatia.

Early Worms late Kickers.

Stuttgarter Kickers 1 Wormatia Worms 1 2,360.

Limited options on the way to Montenegro for the England game so I chose this Regionalliga (4th level) game in Stuttgart.

As it happened I had seen the Kickers play at the Neckar stadium some years ago when they were, briefly, in the Bundesliga

Their regular home is in the south of the city, easily accessible by U-bahn, and comprises medium sized terracing with one stand of seating.

The visitors brought about 50 fans and they were placed at the right hand end.

The weather was warm and dry and the pitch looked good.

Worms started well and scored after five minutes when Toch shot in from a corner routine.
As time went on the very young home side (oldest player - 24) passed the ball reasonably well and edged the possession without making many chances.

The best hope for the Kickers always seemed to be from a set play and so it proved when they equalised, via a header from a corner, in added time.

By then it was nine men versus ten as three had been sent off, two for a scuffle in the second period. That was when Worms had begun to frustrate with their apparent ‘injuries’.

I then travelled via Cologne/Bonn to Dubrovnik and on by car to Podgorica.

Rooney sees red.

Montenegro 2 England 2 15,000

And so we qualified for the Euros, as did Montenegro after Switzerland lost to Wales.

But the Montenegrins certainly enjoyed it more than we did with a pitch invasion and a celebration with some of their own players.

We came away looking somewhat ill prepared to go far in next years finals after losing a two goal lead and having our best attacker, Rooney, sent off.

It had seemed like a routine win after a promising start with an Ashley Young far post header and
a tap-in for Darren Bent.
But a response by Montenegro just before half time and a generally moderate second period performance by England allowed the home side to equalise in the last few minutes.

The rain increased as the match wore on and after the final whistle became torrential.
So this was one time when it was no bad thing to be kept in as the downpour had eased when we were finally let out.

I managed to negotiate my way back to my hotel through the flooded roads to contemplate where we had gone wrong.

As to Podgorica, well the city itself is not blessed with many impressive sites however the surrounding mountain scenery does tend to compensate.

No.21 scores.

Konavljanin 1 Jadran LP 0 c.70

On the Saturday, after the international, I chose a Croatian 3rd level match played in Gruda close to the Montenegrin border.

The basic ground (a few rows of seats and a small covered area for the cameras) is in a picturesque valley within an attractive mountain backdrop.
Unfortunately the valley does get rather windy so it was a cool watch.

The winner was scored by the best player on the pitch, the home sides no.21, a nominal left back who played more as a winger.

Konavljanin had more of the ball although the visitors had some decent chances, one blocked by their own player.
On a very poor pitch it was unlikely to be a classic.

more pictures at

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