The last of our Easter friendlies planned was against a team from a totally different league in the Berkshire Youth Development league. This bringing a variety in team and look over the ‘football fence’ at what level things the BYDL has. In the planning since Christmas, this team were extremely keen to play Binfield and once they know we were the B team, were more keen to play the A team. However, this game materialized first and after numerous date / venue changes we managed to get the game on at Binfield on a sunny quiet Sunday morning.
On arrival their coach again asked if we were the B Team and whilst not showing over eager, sure he was. The reason I find out after the match is that this team play in the top flight of the Red section of the BYDL and have reached their cup final in May. Following introductions to the Ref that they supplied, the addressing of some concerns they had on pitch size, pitch line colour of red, quarter periods to play (they play 2 x 20 mins), number of coaches they seemed to have in the coaching area and ball pressures, we got off to a KO.
It was very apparent in that 1st qtr that this team play physical football and 3 of their players were consistently using their strength (legitimately and other) to win the ball. These players ability to move and control the ball was also exceptionally good.
The boys came in after the 1st qtr looking a little shell shocked, but their commitment to close down and chase the ball, ensured that all remained level. Defensively strong and willing to take them on in an attack. In the 2nd qtr, the instruction apply pressure when they were on the ball and lead them to an error was followed excellently by Charlie, who perused and hassled their defender in the corner, to win the ball. The ball came loose to Jamie who’s shot hit the bar and as it came down, one of their players handballed it in the area. The shout for handball was unanimous and slightly loader from the coaching touch line. Responsibility given to Noah to take the penalty, he hit an unstoppable shot into the net, that I don’t think the keeper even saw.
Into the 3rd qtr, the expectation was of the snake biting back. This it did but thankfully with a non-poisonous bite. Handball was given against Keyan, which seemed extremely soft, but in the eyes of the ref fair. Hit hard but low, Harley, as he has shown, made a fantastic block to push the ball out for a rebound. The teams reaction to the save was more cheer than react and clear the ball, but this they did in the end. The remainder of the qtr was a tough encounter for the wingers and especially Guy and Noah who were getting some harsh treatment in my opinion, after the penalty save.
With this in mind for the last qtr, the boys were asked to be stronger and if they get a push to let the opposition know they were not going to get pushed around. The sight of little George in the CM position, up against one of their largest players, may have been a miss match, but he sure did himself proud in getting continually stuck into his opposite number in their attacks. Yes, they could have got an equalizer, with some good moves into our danger area and shots just going wide of the post, I lost count of the numerous corners they won. But the number of brave saves to feet by Harley, the better working as pairs at the back and specifically clearances by Wills, the doggedness of Harry to battle and push the ball forward, Guy and Noah tracking back, getting stuck in and then transitioning to attack and the added ability of Keyan in that CM spot ensured a hard fought win.
This game was not so much of obtaining procession and retaining (though there were good periods of it), but maintaining and being disciplined in the structure of the positions.
Football is about the skill, but it is just as much about what you can do off the ball, especially forcing an error and then taking your opportunity. This the team did exceptionally well and I feel this was perhaps our best ever game in terms of result.
In the final handshakes the look of shell shock had migrated to new owners.