Last game we played this team we won 3-2 at home, gifting them with 2 own goals to flatter their score line. This time round, we again took control of the game and made our intentions early. This mentality is good for the team and an early lead, seems to settle them and let them play. Of course the test is when we have to chase a game and as I hear a lot elsewhere at Premiership games, “have they got the minerals for the fight and chase”, (best cockney accent).
Following on from Matts team selection he made last game, I asked him to do again as the changes he made were very interesting and in some players surprising. The biggest I heard was on Jamie’s ability to lead and hold the front and what Matt & others have described as his best quarter ever! This mixed with superb displays from Guy, Noah and Michael in overlapping , makes great football to watch.
With the very welcome addition to the team of a keen keeper and team player in Harley, the aim was to pick up where the previous game ended. This was shown with some wonderful periods of possession and attack in the 1st half. As we coach the boys, putting on pressure early and hard, bring errors in the opposition and this was duly delivered with a hand ball in the area. Sharing the penalty duty, up stepped Noah to thunder an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. It’s encouraging to see a selection of players who can offer such shots from set pieces with Guys, curling free kick the week before.
A further lead was then extended with a goal from Jamie (his first since Nov), when he shot and recovered the rebound to lob the keeper from close range. Proving his parent wrong on not only his ability to play with 1 good arm, but that he can play on point.
The aim for the team this game was to maintain possession and play the ball forward to a player in space. I fine example of this being achieved was in the 4th qtr when a call was played out from Harry on the break to Noah, who weaved forward and then put a through ball to Michael. His efforts just being undone with a shot wide. This would have been the team goal of the season!
Whilst possession and attempts on goal were much improved, there is a constant saying on the London Underground to “mind the gap”. This referring to the habit of bunching and the creation of gaps at the back of the defence. Defensive partnerships need to not only be strong, but need to be able to talk and think for each other, one drops to protect the keeper as the other goes to block or steer away.
Unfortunately this was tested in the 3rd qtr when a throw in worked its way round the defence to a gap the right of goal and a shooting opportunity was taken well. A further similar conceded goal then came late in the 4th qtr, when both Wills and George rushed to the ball and left a player free in the same spot as before. Harley did well to parry the ball away and tried to recover for the second save. With little support 1 on 1, he was unable to stop the score being level.
At the final whistle the players showed there disappointment and seeing them kick the ground, when they have worked hard and lost a lead is encouraging to see, as it tells us they know what they should have done better.
Despite this draw(+ some very odd referee decisions), the team performance was very good and hopefully we can take this forward to the last 3 games planned.