It was obvious when turning up on Saturday morning, that some of the boys were not well and some pre game notifications informing me of this, helped set my expectations. It’ s good to see that all the boys are wearing the right clothing for this cold weather and especially gloves, that were in real need. We are trying to ensure that any subs are covered up warm when not playing, so any wholly hats etc. that they want to wear are a good idea.
Up against a new team for us in the league and glad to say back to a team that played strong, competitive football but without any of the bad spirit of last week’s match. I am sure you will agree that matches like Saturdays are full of excitement, heart in mouth moments, passages of play that will delight a players parent & the collective group, snippets of training examples being demonstrated and at the end of it all going home very cold but with a deep sense of their own satisfaction.
So into the 1st qtr, we see that this is going to be a very end to end game with procession moving quickly between the teams. The cold and wind not helping either team to get off the ‘choke setting’ meant some opportunities wasted. We do need to ensure that we organise quicker and sharper at set pieces or between key pairings as Defender & Defensive Midfielder, however the wind at times was blowing so strong that it was hard for the coaches to pass any words across the pitch.
Mid way through qtr 2, one of our finest team goals was achieved and I like to think that this is a result of the constant training that we have been concentrating on Wednesday nights. The ball was taken forward through the centre by James, who sent it to the right for Noah to move further forward. Noah crossed the ball into the danger area, where Jamie (the teams Hemel Heskey) held, shielded it and unselfishly passed out to an waiting James square in front of goal, who placed the ball into the top right corner out of reach of their very good goalkeeper. Moves like this are pure joy to watch and banish the cold for a short time.
If we thought that was a good team goal, then the 3rd qtr was to witness one of the best individual goals of this season. I try to capture who makes the assists, but on this one, I have no idea as it started so far back and think it may even have come from Harley’s goal kick? However, what I do know is that James picked this pass up inside his own half (by some distance) and started to weave his way out to the right wing where he was playing. His control of the ball was excellent, with some balls round opposition, chased & collected; cuts in and out to wrong foot defenders and to one unfortunate, even a ‘nuts’ (which I know how it feels, as he continues to perform this on me in training). The heady run continued until he had opened up the last defender enough to get his shot off and into the net. Comparisons of Michael Owen’s goal vs. Argentina in 1998 came to mind later.
This qtr we could have also taken further advantage with 2 other attempts that were either saved of the line or with the goalkeeper just getting his finger tips to it to tip over. By no means was this match all one way and the team had to be quick and react to numerous breaks and fight backs. One pleasing aspect was the ability of the team at one occasion to naturally get back and throw their bodies in front of a lurking player on the outside of the box, enough to make them rush their shot with also had to be dealt with by Harley getting down low and quick to push it safely round the post.
The character of this team came through again in the 4th qtr with some struggling with illnesses but wanting to continue and others stepping up their game at a very important period. Charlie strong at the back with hassling chases, clearances out and strong balls forward. Wills working hard on the wing where his legs have to work faster as well as his decision making and Michael close to getting that goal that he so dearly wants.
Despite the setback of a concede goal in this last qtr and having to change some of the players struggling, the determination of all was rewarded in the end.