We have finally managed to put aside the disappointment of driving halfway across town and standing around in the freezing cold only to find out that not only had the last game of the Roar Roadshow kicked off before the advertised time, but that the Roar had only sent Rado Vidosic and his youth team.
Rovers seemed to be doing all the attacking in the first half. A speedy bloke on the left wing was having a particularly good night of it, going past his defender at will. On closer inspection, the defender in question turned out to be none other than Robbie Kruse, and he looked none to happy about the situation.
Kruse sulked about the place, half heartedly tugging at the speedy winger's shirt and arguing incessantly with goalkeeper Griffin Mc'Master who was clearly none too impressed with the cover he was getting from the right. Kruse was undoubtedly grumpy - but who could blame him? One of the few to impress in preseason, what was he doing playing completely out of position for the youth team while Charlie Miller and Co were at home on the couch in their snuggies?
Back to the football - the Young Roars were barely able to string three passes together while Rochedale played a direct game making particular use of their pace on the left wing, while several hundred brave souls stood in the cold with only Robbie Kruse's increasingly petulant displays of disgruntlement to entertain them.
Towards the end of the first half, youth coach Rado Vidosic gave up shouting "Too many touches! Too many!" at his players and instead turned to the well stocked bench and carefully explained that opportunities were going begging because the team were dwelling on the ball too long.
"I want to see two touches - second touch must be pass" he reiterated.
At half time virtually the entire side was subbed and the game changed dramatically. Suddenly the Roar were dominating, moving the ball beautifully with two touch football, creating space and plenty of chances - well done Rado! After a super second half the Roars deserved their 1-0 win.
Two players stood out, Michael Angus at left back and Joshua McVey up front, both veterans of the inaugural National Youth League. I was impressed with Angus who defended well while also getting forward hugging the touchline to create a extra outlet wide, he looks to be an intelligent player with good pace and a great engine. Hoops' pick was McVey, who was given nothing to work with in the first half but after being subbed back on in the second half(yes that is how seriously this game was being taken), he was in the thick of things drifting out to the left and cutting inside and it was he who scored the only goal of the game with a perfectly placed long range effort.
So thanks to the Junior Roar for putting on an entertaining show (in the second half anyway), but we are left wondering why Farina and the senior team did not appear as advertised. It is not as if the preseason has gone so well that the senior squad does not need the match time. Could it be that the injury crisis is worse than they are letting on? Was Farina worried that a potential loss to Rovers a week before the new season would have provided a knock out blow to the team's confidence?
The other mystery is almost as intriguing: What was Kruse doing there at all? Why was he playing in defence? Was he being punished? Did he loose a bet? Is he not being considered for for the Gold Coast game? (and if not why not we say!) Is the injury crisis so bad that he may play in defence against Gold Coast? - none of it seems plausible...