I felt like the train had come off the tracks. In the 6th minute, Mladost striker Vokje simply walked past the defence and slotted the ball in the net. If anyone could be accused of having little faith, it was the Novi Sad contingent, and on 14 minutes Ninko the Kid picked up the ball and fed Branko, who played it out wide to The Turd. With plenty of space on the left, he advanced and played a ball through to Darko who slid it in with precision. After 28 minutes, Ilijah picked up a ball from the defence and knocked it 45 yards to Darko who was moving clear. A savage strike saw Novi Sad take the lead. There was still an inevitable air of gloom over all concerned. In the 37th minute Grujic received the ball outside of the Novi Sad box. The defence melted away to let him stroll in and plant it into the roof of the net to draw Mladost level.
In the 43rd minute, Boggy the Elder was brought down in the box, and The Turd stepped up to take the penalty. The crowd fell silent, and then erupted into a roar as he fired the ball straight into the goal keeper. You could have heard the groan from the Novi Sad fans if there had been more than two of them! Two minutes later, and the referee once more pointed to the spot, this time because Janker was hacked down. Again The Turd stepped up, and this time he did the right thing. Movi Sad were heading into the break a goal to the good, or so we thought. Injury time was being played when Janker picked out Boggy the Elder in space. As the Mladost keeper rushed out he squared the ball to Darko who tapped in for his hat trick. 4-2 up, and the half time whistle restored a little faith.
The second half was an anti-climax. Novi sad became assured and bossed the game, with The Turd adding a second on 67 minutes after exceptional work by Darko. The game ended 5-2, but as both Veternik and Bezanija also won, everything stayed as was.
The next match was at home to Becej, bottom of the table and relegation favourites. It was a game that Novi Sad had to get three points from, especially as Veternik were playing Bezanija. It was the walkover it should have been. If anything, Becej showed they could defend. All 11 men generally stayed behind the ball, and in 90 minutes they managed two shots. Novi Sad, however, had 27 shots, of which 14 were on target. Three beat the keeper, one from Ninko the Kid and two from Boggy the Elder. More importantly, Veternik beat Bezanija and Novi Sad returned to the top of the table. With 9 games remaining, we had to play each team once more.
The top of the table looked set for a showdown.
Novi Sad – 34 points
Veternik – 31 points
Bezanija – 31 points
Elan – 26 points
Radnicki Novi Beograd – 26 points
It was going to be a run-in alright. It was a case of looking at every point that teams picked up or dropped, and thinking about how many more were up for grabs. The reality was that any team, including Becej, at the bottom of the table, could win it. This was fucked up football, for a fucked up country.
NB. As I said before, this is not my own work. It is Vic Flange’s. The original work can be found on TheDugout, right here. TheDugout is dying, so I’m rescuing the story and giving it the attention it deserves.