By Peter Wood
In football, a preseason friendly is the chance to establish where you are with a playing squad, judge fitness levels and test out new formations. Last night’s Old Street encounter was no different. The added buzz to the occasion was the first ever Dentsu Network derby between the creative minds of Dentsu London and the Digital marketing specialists at STEAK.
STEAK lined up with a traditional 2-1-1 formation, offering protection to the keeper whilst trying to exploit the creative talents of Simon Wong in midfield. Dentsu, the more experienced of the teams played a more attacking formation and that paid off when they took the lead early on.
STEAK struggled with communication to begin with and had problems adapting to the narrow pitch. That didn’t stop them levelling up with a long range Simon Wong effort in the bottom corner. Dentsu were persistent, peppering the goal of Keith Cartwright at will. Luckily for the boys in Purple, a mixture of incredible technique and cat like reflexes kept the score respectable.
The intro of Douglas Sheard and Gareth Owen livened things up on the creative side. Gareth Owen at ease on the ball looked to create openings whenever he could. Doug dropped slightly deeper to play in the enforcer roll, showing off some of his rugby skills with some punishing tackles. Scott Sinclair was proving adept in the middle of the park, demonstrating a skill and finesse that West Ham wouldn’t mind at the moment.
At the back, Rob Wilde was putting on a fine display of defensive stability. His ability to make last ditch tackles sometimes with two attackers to contend with was as impressive as his ability to play the ball out of defence with a calmness and composure many English defenders lack.
With the teams trading blows back and forth, it was tight heading into the final 15 minutes. STEAK were 8-6 up and looking in control. Goals from Scott Sinclair, Doug Sheard and Gareth Owen, as well as some superb opportunistic attacking contributions from Daniel Kidd, looked enough to seal the win. Sadly it was not to be. A defensive mix up at the back ended in catastrophe with an unfortunate own goal. This was followed with three well-crafted goals from Dentsu.
The final whistle blew, STEAK were defeated 10-8 and Dentsu took the first ever derby win. They demonstrated superior fitness levels and had the experience and composure when it counted. That said, the passion and heart on show from the boys at STEAK leads me to believe that this losing streak isn’t long term. If they can regroup, show a little more desire to shoot at goal, then for me, it could be a very good year when they start the competitive season.
MoM: Keith Cartwright after a quite incredible display of super natural athleticism between the sticks.