Eastwood CFC 2 vs 1 AOFC
An outstanding team performance almost upsets Eastwood on their home turf
AOFC travelled a long way for a midweek cup tie against Eastwood Community FC. It was a great occasion to play at a fantastic ground against one of the best teams (if not the best) in the Central Midlands League. Manager Martin Hallam and his assistant Dave Warner had done some scouting previous to the game and assessed how Eastwood liked to play as well as identifying their key threats. There were several changes to the side that lost 3-1 to Matlock Town Reserves in the last game as youngsters James Leach, Pierce Hallam, Oliver Warner and Lewis Bonham all came in to start and new signing James Elliott started in goal. It was great to welcome Elliott back to the club after he had played for us at a youth level.
It was clear from the off that Eastwood would try to dominate possession as Aslockton sat back and had a solid game plan. It was Eastwood who had the chances in the first half with most of the threat coming down the flanks. Oliver Warner and Ryan Campbell at full back had the job of stopping the wide players, who were Eastwood's best players on the night, from creating chances. Eastwood had an early chance when a free kick from around the corner flag was headed just wide. Another ball in to the box was headed well by the big centre midfielder but his effort was brilliantly parried away by James Elliott. Despite Eastwood's possession, they struggled to break down the organised away side. James Hackett marked the centre forward excellently and ensured nothing came through him. The work rate from the midfield five and striker Josh Asuman was outstanding, not giving Eastwood time to play and holding their positions well. Paddy Webb has been Eastwood's star man this season and you could see why. He looked extremely dangerous down the left and fizzed in some fierce cross-come-shots which in the end led to nothing on each occasion. Ryan Campbell had done an excellent job of keeping him wide and trying to stop that threat. Pierce Hallam was controlling his centre midfield trio, including Tommy Nesteruk and Nick Fry, who prevented any play coming through the middle of the park. Down the other end Pierce Hallam managed to work his way in to some great space after beating his man, but his effort with the outside of his right foot was just wide. The youngsters out wide, James Leach and Lewis Bonham, were defending more than they were attacking, doubling up where required, but they looked very confident when the ball did come to their feet. Aslockton thought they had done everything perfectly in the first half however Eastwood scored in injury time at the end of the first half. A ball across to the left was controlled by Webb, who cut inside and slotted home with his right foot. A real disappointment for the away side.
The second half was different to the first, as Eastwood never really got going. Their passing play was laboured and they were being frustrated by Aslockton who again were difficult to break down. Aslockton looked better going forward too. They began to play some better football and move towards the Eastwood goal. Tommy Nesteruk and Nick Fry both had long range efforts but neither troubled the Eastwood keeper. Lewis Bonham and James Leach were ever growing in to the game and really enjoying their football on the artificial surface. Eastwood thought they had doubled their lead however when a ball in to the box was headed towards goal, only for an excellent block on the line by a combination of Oliver Warner and James Elliott. Aslockton were then very unlucky to concede a second goal. Ryan Campbell made a clearance and went down with cramp in the area, which meant that when a ball was played in to the box, he was playing the Eastwood attacking players onside and the right winger, off the bench, finished simply at the back post. Campbell was then substituted for Sam Smith, Nico Devivo replaced Lewis Bonham and Jay Leathen replaced Nick Fry. With 20 minutes to go Aslockton were in no rush to get back in to the game and stuck to their game plan. Eastwood struggled to create any more chances in the game and it was Aslockton who managed to get a goal back with 5 minutes to play. A wide free kick was delivered by James Hallam and Josh Asuman volleyed home. Hallam was then thrown up front as the away side went for an equaliser but it wasn't to be, despite the Eastwood players becoming rattled in the dying minutes.
An excellent, well organised performance by Aslockton who can be very proud of their performance. The team as a whole were fantastic.
Also a special mention to the officials, who were absolutely brilliant on the night.
Thanks to all our supporters who made the journey!