“What goes up, must come down.” A quote that seems to apply to everything and everyone – save for the AUB JV Football Team. AUB JV won their eighth consecutive league game on the night of Thursday Nov. 23, a streak stretching back to the inception of the Junior Varsity Football League last season. They remain the only undefeated side in the league with no losses or draws to their name.
AUB JV played their second league game of the season as they hosted northern rivals Balamand. The last time these two sides met on AUB grounds, the result was ridiculous as a rampant AUB side demolished their opponents 11-1. But, a much improved Balamand team with lots of fresh faces proved to be a tougher opponent this time around as they started the game the brighter of the two.
A shaky AUB JV defense were almost made to pay after 10 minutes of playing time when a powerful header by the Balamand striker was palmed onto the post and out by the alert Amine Nassar. AUB’s superb number 1 was again called into action a few minutes later when he turned a driven volley away for a corner as AUB looked bewildered against a vibrant Balamand.
As time progressed, AUB began to regain their composure on the ball and stretched the play on the flanks forcing their pressing opponents to run after the ball. They almost scored through George Yazbek who indeed finished past the Balamand keeper, but the linesman’s flag was up and the goal was chalked off for offside. AUB went close again as winger Michel Dibo unleashed a ferocious shot from the right side which flew just wide of the far post.
In hopes of adding more solidity to a shaky defense, Coach Vatche Sarkissian withdrew midfielder Rami Kiwan and introduced center back Mohammad Kaadan, who took his place alongside Baaker Haidar in central defense, pushing Omar Darwish into midfield. The first half ended goalless with both sides failing to convince.
A few minutes into the second half, the Balamand side collapsed as two quick fire goals from Tarek Darwish and George Yazbek put the game beyond them. First, Darwish pounced on a loose ball in the Balamand box after their defense failed to clear the danger and finished beyond the keeper after some quick thinking. Yazbek was then on the receiving end of a pinpoint cross by Michael “Mykey” Jurdak and finished past the keeper to make it 2-0 in the home side’s favor.
Balamand never really found their way back into the game with AUB asserting their dominance all over the pitch. A wasteful George Yazbek missed a load of chances, most notably when he shot straight at the keeper from a one-on-one situation and Jurdak hit the post from the rebound.
Michel Dibo, Omar Darwish, and Tarek Darwish were all subbed off midway through the second half as Jad Mansour, Serge Greige, and Hassan Badran came on to help preserve the side’s two goal lead. It was substitute Serge Greige who made the difference as he continued to dazzle opposition players with his technique and quick footwork.
After dribbling past three players on the left he cut inside and curled an effort just wide of the far post. But his efforts soon paid off when he again dribbled past a few players before sending George Yazbek through on goal with the striker calmly chipping over the advancing keeper for his second of the game.
In the final minutes, Karim Kabbani was replaced by the more defensive Ali Abbas in midfield as AUB rebuffed all Balamand efforts till the final whistle. It was an excellent result for the team after an impeccable second half, but the result does little to mask the side’s defensive woes which were apparent in the first half. If it weren’t for man of the match Amine Nassar, the result could have been very different.
The 3-0 win sends AUB clear at the top of the table as LAU Byblos could only manage a draw against LAU Beirut, leaving both teams in third and second place respectively on goal difference. AUB JV’s next match is at home against LAU Byblos on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 8:30 pm.