A long trek up to Scotland for the first fixture in the Icarus Masters calendar for the 2019/20 season, saw us welcomed by a Scottish Parliament side fielding 4 or 5 players who were definitely not vets, but we were just happy to get the game underway. A fixture that had originally been scheduled for a 1400 kick off, later put back to 1430hrs, eventually kicked off at 1515hrs on the 4G facility that is home to Hamilton Academicals, at New Douglas Park.
With the gaffer opting for a formation utilising two wingbacks, in an attempt to counteract the Scottish Parliament’s tendency to get the ball wide, Icarus started brightly. In the 2nd minute, a ball over the top into the left channel by Babbington, sent Spurle racing away down the left wing. He cut inside the penalty area and slid a ball across the 6-yard box between goalkeeper and defender to find the onrushing Gilligan, who slammed the ball home and opened the scoring.
This was to set the tone for much of the game, and half way through the 1st half, after more good possession from Icarus, Lee collected the ball in midfield and spotting the keeper off his line, lifted the ball over him to double the Icarus lead. The Scottish Parliament were finding it hard to cope with the pressure being applied by Icarus, with the patient football and build up play from Icarus restricting their time on the ball. This pressure told, with Knott finishing off another sustained period of possession with a clinical finish to make it 0-3.
With the 1st half nearing its conclusion, Icarus stood off their opponents for a rare moment in the game. A raking 50-yard ball, switching play from right to left, saw the Parliament left winger in round the back of the Icarus defence. He squared the ball across goal and a largely untroubled Jackson was beaten for the first time in the game, to give the Scottish Parliament some hope for the 2nd half.
Half time – Scottish Parliament 1-3 Icarus Masters
The second half proved to be a much more even affair, mainly owing to the poor finishing from the Icarus attack. Chances came and went at both ends, with Jackson pulling off a couple of excellent saves to keep the gap at 2 and Icarus missing numerous chances to extend their lead. Most notably from Spurle, who clearly needed to have an open goal from closer than the 6 yards he was presented with (although to be fair, the defender did apologise for clipping him as he was shooting ?). About midway through the 2nd half, another break by Spurle down the left led to him bearing down on goal again. A smart pull back to the oncoming Knott brought an excellent save from the Parliament keeper, only for Occie (Dom’s mate) to put away the rebound. Shortly afterwards, more good work down the right led to another chance for Spurle, who after his first 2 efforts were saved by the keeper, then chipped the keeper with the 3rd attempt, only for it to be cleared off the line.
As the half wore on, the Scottish Parliament became more and more of a threat, putting the Icarus defence under constant pressure, but with a commanding man-of-the-match performance at the heart of the defence by Evans, they were repelled on each occasion. That was until around 10 minutes to go, when Icarus were caught high up the pitch following another attack. The Scottish Parliament got in behind down the left and another ball squared across goal left the Parliament striker with a tap in, not to dissimilar to their 1st goal.
With legs becoming heavy, mainly due to the game being played on the hottest day of the year, further chances came and went over the closing stages. The referee eventually bringing proceedings to a close with a thoroughly deserved victory for Icarus. This just left team photos and then everyone disappearing off to shower in their respective hotels, as we weren’t allowed to use the main changing rooms that had been prepared for Hamilton’s Scottish League Cup fixture the following day.
Final Score – Scottish Parliament 2-4 Icarus Masters