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The new season’s fixtures were released today and Athletic will open the campaign with a trip to Renfrewshire to face speccy’s saints.

Our first home game will be the following week when Tigers of Hull City visit New Home Park.

The fixtures in full are:

05-11-2011 speccy’s saints (A)
12-11-2011 Tigers of Hull City (H)
19-11-2011 Glenury Untied (A)
26-11-2011 Jimmy’s Wiggles (H)
03-12-2011 Whiskaz Wonderers (H)
10-12-2011 Berceloona Fc (A)
17-12-2011 Handball Rovers (H)
24-12-2011 Handball Rovers (A)
31-12-2011 Berceloona Fc (H)
07-01-2012 Whiskaz Wonderers (A)
14-01-2012 Jimmy’s Wiggles (A)
21-01-2012 Glenury Untied (H)
28-01-2012 Tigers of Hull City (A)
04-02-2012 speccy’s saints (H)

Germán Olmos Ribas calmly knocks the ball home to score his first goal for the club.

New signings Archie Peacock and Germán Olmos Ribas made their debuts with Ribas getting his name on the scoresheet as we geared up for the new season with an excellent 6-0 win over Mobster United at New Home Park this morning.

Athletic started confidently and opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute through Bruno Le Ber and placed themselves firmly in the driving seat fourteen minutes later when Dario Zintu knocked the corner kick to Daniel Hasnaş who whipped a low drive in off the far post to double the advantage.

Dario got his own name on the scoresheet six minutes before the break to give Athletic a 3-0 half-time lead and emphasise their complete control of the game.

With the game all but won Athletic lowered the tempo, while the visitors shut up shop in an attempt to keep the score down. They were left totally helpless in the sixty-third minute however when Athletic increased the lead, courtesy of Oleg Zhigalov’s forehead.

The scoreline did not truly reflect Athletic’s dominance, however with six minutes left Igor Bulatov rifled in Athletic’s fifth goal from a narrow angle, and just two minutes later Germán Olmos Ribas made it a scoring debut to round off the scoring.

After the match Arjen said, “This was the perfect build-up to our Cup match next Wednesday, and a good run out for some fringe players”.

“Archie and Germán both did very well on their debuts, and I’m sure they will do well at this club. But this was a very good team performance overall, and this is what I will be looking for this season”.

He admitted, “Last season was a huge disappointment for us, and I’m determined to ensure that doesn’t happen again this season”.

“The Cup is something of a distraction midweek, but we’ll be setting up with Saturday in mind. The league is our sole focus, and we’ll not be going all out for the win against AberdeenPOL on Wednesday”.

Germán Olmos Ribas (Left) and Archie Peacock go through their paces at training today.

Although it is now officially “close season”, there was no downtime for coach Arjen Bogaert this weekend past as he scoured the transfer markets for potential signings to strengthen the club.

Speaking at this morning’s press conference to officially unveil 17 year-old Spanish midfielder Germán Olmos Ribas and Archie Peacock, a 19 year-old centre-back from south London, he said “It was a busy weekend for us after Emil [Vasiu] handed us his transfer request on Friday”.

“We were initially surprised by his decision, but he has struggled to settle, and we felt that it was best for everyone if he was allowed to move on”.

He continued, “With that in mind, we knew we would have to get a new midfielder signed up before the new season kicked off, for cover if nothing else initially, but we weren’t going to sign just anyone”.

“I want anyone I bring in to better than what we have here already, have the potential to be so or give us options that we don’t currently have. I believe Germán and Archie meet these criteria”.

When asked why he had signed two players he said, “While I agree, at present it would appear we only needed a midfielder, Archie was a bonus for us. He can play either out-and-out central defence or as a defensive midfielder. We don’t have that option at present”.

Before attention was turned to the new signings, Arjen finished by saying, “By bringing in young players and starting them off in the reserves, by the time they progress to the first team they are ready to walk straight in with the minimum of disruption. It is part of my job to ensure there is a conveyor belt of high quality players progressing into the first team to replace senior players who either leave us or retire”.

“The signing of these two young men can be seen as part of this process, and every player coming to this club knows what we expect of them; if they perform well, their will be given their chance in the first team”.

When asked about signing for the club, Germán said, “I heard about Athletic’s interest late on Sunday night. I’d been playing in Romania, but when my team failed to win promotion costs had to be cut, so I knew my days there were numbered”.

He continued, “I think there was one or two other clubs interested but I’m delighted by how things have turned out, especially when I found out there were other Spanish players here. Now I’m really looking forward to getting onto the pitch, and hopefully I might get a chance to play in tomorrow’s friendly match”.

The second of the new signings on Sunday night was Archie Peacock, and when he was asked how he had found out about Athletic putting in a bid for him he said, “It came as a bolt from the blue. My agent had phoned me a minute earlier to say that no-one had put in any bids and that it looked like I was staying in Switzerland”.

“Within the space of two minutes though, Athletic had made their bid at the last minute, and I was a Brook Street player. Mr Bogaert has seen something he likes in me, and it’s now up to me to repay that faith. Like Germán said, I can’t wait to get out playing for the club”.

Finally, the new boys were then asked if they’d met up with the other players yet.

“We’ve only met Dario, Daniel, Liran and Marcus so far as they were the only ones in early”, said Archie, “but we’re off to training right after this, so I expect that we’ll meet everyone else then. It seems to be a really close-knit team and I think we’ve both been very lucky to end up at such a good club”.

The club are deleighted to announce that Philippines Series III.4 Champions Mobster United will visit New Home Park on Wednesday as the build-up to the new season continues. Kick-off is at 10:30 BST.

Although neither side had anything left to play for this season, Athletic and Redders11 played out a highly entertaining friendly match in front of over 4,100 spectators at New Home Park this morning.

Play raced from end to end until two goals within one first-half minute finally turned the match in Athletic’s favour.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring with only two minutes played when winger Viktor Kadera raced through to slam the ball home.

The lead however lasted for less than a minute as, straight from kick-off, the ball was fed out to Vitor Leocadio who raced up the wing. His cross was met flush on the forehead of the onrushing Jake MacConnechy to level the scores.

Laurent Étcheverry gave the home side the advantage with a quarter of an hour played, but back came Redders11, and Klaus-Erik Linken cancelled out the advantage in the thirty-fifth minute.

Four minutes later however, the match had decisively turned in Athletic’s favour. Three minutes after parity had been restored, Vitor Leocadio rifled home the best goal of the match, half-volleying a fine through ball home, then within sixty seconds it was 4-2, Daniel Hasnaş heading home.

With such an action-packed first half, it was only to be expected that the second half would fail to live up to it. It therefore came as no surprise that there was only one goal in the second forty-five minutes, Oleg Zhigalov finishing off Redders11’s challenge with eight minutes left.

“It was a good way to finish off the season”, said Arjen after the match. “While it doesn’t make up for the disappointment of the weekend, it provided some good entertainment for the fans.

“We’ll now go and start planning for next season”, he concluded.

Athletic face an extended stay in Division IV.42 as our Championship dream turned into a nightmare against Accretia this afternoon, the home team winning 4-1 to secure the title.

Although Andy Hautala, who scored our consolation goal, won the Golden Boot for finishing off the Division’s top scorer, this proved scant reward and the Englishman admitted that in the circumstances the award was bitter-sweet.

“To be completely honest, I would rather be celebrating promotion than receiving this”, he admitted.

There can be no doubt that this afternoon’s outcome will rank as the greatest disappointment in the history of the club, a point not lost on Arjen Bogaert.

“Everyone, myself included, is absolutely devastated that so much promise has ultimately delivered nothing. Accretia were clearly hungrier for the title in every department, and that hurts… that really hurts”.

Athletic got off to a bad start, and Accretia deservedly took the lead in the ninth minute when Diomedes Bautista headed home. Indeed, the home side could have been out of sight by half-time had it not been for an excellent performance by Ville Yrjölä.

As it was however, when Yip Streekstra knocked in Accretia’s second goal right on the hour mark, the writing was well and truly on the wall for Athletic’s title challenge. His second of the match sixteen minutes later killed it stone dead.

Andy Hautala fired our consolation goal with four minutes left, however there was never going to be a fightback this late on, and two minutes later Streekstra struck again to restore the three-goal advantage and send Accretia off to Division III.

Ahead of our title showdown with Accretia at the weekend, Athletic’s reserves had a morale boosting 3-0 win in their friendly match with Riff Raff fc at New Home Park this morning.

First half goals from Dario Zintu, Daniel Hasnaş and Liran Tzur were enough to secure the victory in the match which was much more even than the scoreline suggests.

Arjen said, “We took all of our chances while we kept things tight at the back. Although the match was close, we showed our ruthless streak and got the win.” He added, “The players knew places in Saturday’s squad were up for grabs, and they rose to the challenge”.

He finished off by saying, “Now we can concentrate on our preparations for Saturday’s match, and although I have not finalised my line-up, I am now fairly certain of what it will be”.

Onésimo Murube fires home our second goal to make the points all but safe and take the title race to the final week.

As anticipated, wins this afternoon for both Athletic and Accretia mean the title race will go right down to the wire next weekend when the two sides face each other at Accretia’s Oasis Punch ground.

“It’s set up perfectly for a huge match and a terrific finale to the season”, said Arjen after watching his side’s 3-0 win over Whiskaz Wonderers at New Home Park. “It’s almost certainly going to be a sell-out which should make for a fantastic atmosphere.

He did however admit, “It could be a very tight game and although we have a very potent attack, both sides are thoroughly miserly when it comes to conceding. Again we hold a slight edge”.

Regardless of the result next weekend however, it looks almost certain that the Division’s Golden Boot will be heading back to New Home Park. Barring a complete collapse by Athletic, either Andy Hautala, Onésimo Murube or even Paul O’Healihy seem almost certain to lift the award, as the closest Accretia player trails the leader by five goals.

Arjen said of the Golden Boot race, “We’ve had an extremely good attack this season, and it’s just reward for the players that they are heading the race”. He did however warn, “The players must not, and I don’t expect them to, take their eyes off the bigger prize. Winning the league and gaining promotion are the only things that matter; awards are bonuses and our players are professional and understand this”.

“We will have an immensely hard match to face next weekend, but we must go out in the right frame of mind to secure the win we need. A draw is no good to us, despite our overwhelming goals advantage. We have to prepare properly and need look no further than the last time the two teams met, on the opening day of the season, to see what poor preparation and an assumption that we ‘just need to turn up’ can do.

He concluded by saying, “We’ve played ourselves right back into contention, despite our early setback, and having come so far it would be disastrous for us to blow it now”.

To get that final shot at the title next weekend, Athletic had to make sure there were no slip-ups against Whiskaz in front of our second sell-out crowd in a row at New Home Park this afternoon.

Wonderers were playing with five at the back, but even with a heavily defensive formation, Athletic almost carved the opening goal seven minutes into the game when Kyle Fair broke through and flashed the ball just past the post.

Athletic were well on top, but stuck rigidly to the game plan and were patient in their build-up play. This ultimately paid dividends and thirteen minutes proved unlucky for Wonderers as Andy Hautala flicked home a cross by Nemanja Janković to open the scoring and set the home team on the road to victory.

A one goal lead is never enough, so when Onésimo Murube turned home a super pass from Nemanja Janković the relief in the cheers from the stands was clearly audible. By the time Andy Hautala made it 3-0, the game was all but won, and only a superb save from the Wonderers keeper Ishmael Scannell denied Nemanja Janković the fourth.

Wonderers were on the rack, and half-time proved to be only a fifteen minute respite from the onslaught.

Athletic took up from where they left off, and ten minutes into the second half, Marcus Lövman could only watch in anguish as his powerful volley curled just wide of the post.

Ishmael Scannell in the Wonderers goal was, despite the scoreline, having an excellent game, and the visitors had him to thank in the seventieth minute when he dived spectacularly to turn José Eransus’ net-bound effort away for a corner.

This proved to be the final goalmouth action as with Athletic dictating play, the game fizzled out with the home side playing keep-ball.

Speaking afterwards after picking up another man of the match award, two-goal hero Andy Hautala said, “This could have been a tricky match for us, but we got the early goals and that more or less settled the match”.

He continued, “The atmosphere was absolutely electric again, and the alterations to the ground have certainly improved it considerably. The roar when we opened the scoring was absolutely deafening, and must be quite intimidating for visiting players”.

When asked about next weekend’s title showdown, he said, “I’ve got to be honest and say that my own thoughts started to drift towards it late in the second half. It’s a huge game for both sides, but we’ll be travelling with this magnificent support roaring us on, and I know it’s a cliché but they really are our twelfth man. We screwed up the opener, and it’s up to us to pay them back for their unwavering support with a win next Saturday”.

Northern Irish Division III.9 leaders Riff Raff FC will visit New Home Park on Wednesday for a friendly match. Kick-off is at 10:30 BST.

Daniel Hasnaş hit a hat-trick in eight second half minutes as Athletic scored eight without reply against Senegalese visitors fc ndiaye lo at New Home Park this morning. Strike partner Dario Zintu netted a brace with our other goals coming from Emil Vasiu, Igor Bulatov and Jake MacConnechy.

Athletic were quick off the mark and were one up withing the space of three minutes after Emil Vasiu clipped home a cross from Igor Bulatov. Igor was again the provider six minutes later when Dario Zintu rose high to power a header home.

The Ukrainian was having a good game, and got on the scoresheet himself in the seventeenth minute, slamming home the penalty awarded after Dario was bundled over in the box.

When Dario netted his second of the game with only twenty-six minutes on the clock, the visitors looked to be heading for a very, very heavy defeat, but as they have been doing in recent matches, the home side took the foot off the pedal.

Athletic had the chance to increase the lead to five before the break, but Igor Bulatov’s free kick rebounded off the crossbar back into the arms of ndiaye keeper Elimane Tandjiguera, much to his surprise.

Jake MacConnechy made it 5-0, six minutes into the second half, coolly rounding Tandjiguera and knocking the ball home, but it took another nineteen minutes before Athletic could add a sixth.

Igor Bulatov was once again the provider in the seventieth minute, hooking in a tempting cross that Daniel met flush with his forehead, and so began the eight minute spell which saw Daniel Hasnaş score his first hattrick for the club.

Vitor Leocadio’s driven low cross from the left in seventy-four minutes found it’s way to Daniel right in front of the goal and he duly dispatched the ball to make it 7-0.

Now brimming with confidence, the young Moldovan picked up the ball in midfield two minutes later and set off for goal. Leaving defenders trailing in his wake he bore down on goal and rifled home his third goal of the game, giving visitors keeper Elimane Tandjiguera absolutely no chance.

While it was another successful morning’s work for the reserves, it was tempered by Jake MacConnechy picking up an injury that almost certainly finishes his season.

“We think Jake will be out of action for a fortnight, so I’d really doubt if we’d see him before the start of next season”, said Arjen when he spoke to the press afterwards.

The coach went on to praise his side, in particular Igor Bulatov and strike duo Daniel Hasnaş and Dario Zintu.

“It was a very good team performance, however those three players deserve special mention”.

He continued, “Igor was excellent today and in addition to scoring a goal himself, had a hand in three others. He showed total commitment even although it was only a friendly match and gave his marker an absolutely torrid time”.

He added, “Dario continued his phenominal scoring rate, and is almost there when it comes to a starting place in the first team. Only the form of our first team strikers is keeping him out at the moment”.

Turning to hat-trick hero Daniel Hasnaş, he said, “Daniel is a real confidence player. It’s taken him a while to settle, but he’s formed a good partnership with Dario and this has seen a real turn around in his fortunes. The way he finished off his hat-trick shows exactly what he can do when he has confidence”.

“Daniel has been in the shadow of his strike partner for a while, and a lot of work he does goes un-noticed, however now he has done something to grab the limelight”.

NEXT MATCH

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