Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jersey Express – Ocean City FC (27-05-2011)

In December 2010 Ironbound Express changed its name into Jersey Express and expanded its operation, among others adding a youth academy to its PDL team. They play their games on the campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), in the downtown of Newark, NJ, lacking much of a real presence in the city.

After we paid $10 each at the ‘ticket office’, M and I joined the roughly 50 other people at the one stand of the stadium. We soon found out that at least 30 spectators were supporters of the away team, also known as the OC ‘Nor’easters’, from Ocean City, NJ, only ca. 120 miles (200 km) south.

This Jersey Derby was a game in the Eastern Conference, Mid Atlantic Division, of the Premier Development League (Fourth Division). They played on a good (Astroturf) pitch, but the level of play was poor. In the 17th minute a half-volley of the Express went over the goal, and some six minutes later a turn and shot from the hosts also went over.

The most remarkable events of the first half were two hard collisions between players, both leading to long pauses (but no major injuries). In the 37th minute a good long ball of OC was met by a bad first touch, which allowed a tackle to clear the danger. 0-0 was the inevitable half time score.

After the half time break, which the hosts spent at the pitch, the second half continued with poor play and remarkably much and loud shouting on the pitch. In the 50th minute the Express had a good control and shot from 25 meters, and in the 54th minute some good moves and a good shot of their striker.

In the 71st minute OC kicked a free kick from 17 meters on the crossbar. A minute later Express responded with a surprise covered shot from right outside of the box, which was boxed out of the goal by the OC goalie. In the 74th minute an Express attack with a good first touch and a lob went just over. Four minutes later an Express striker goes with a high leg at the goalie, but doesn’t touch him, and the goalie retaliates by pushing him roughly to the ground; the terrible referee only gives a yellow card.

In the 83rd minute the Express left defender ran over 50 meters, but was prevented from scoring by a last ditch tackle. Four minutes later a horrible tackle of the visitors was again not punished with a red card. And, as most people had already accepted a draw, a cross bounces odd and an Express player heads the ball over the goalie: 1-0. A couple minutes later, the referee whistles for the end.

The PDL is a semi-, or maybe even pseudo-professional soccer league, where most clubs seem more interested in their youth academy than their PDL team. Many lack an own infrastructure and play at schools or universities in front of few people. Jersey Express is one of these teams. Nothing more, nothing less.

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