U9: Chipping Norton Swifts vs Brackley Athletic
Swifts U9s suffered second consecutive game with Brackley Athletic ended with the same result; in an entertaining, hard-fought match-up at Greystones.
After some late, late drama at the very end of their previous fixture, which allowed Brackley to come away from the game with the bragging rights, Swifts came into this one having made a slight shift in formation. They moved into a somewhat more conventional 2-3-1, with Joseph Darlow joining Taylor Hunt in a defensive duo, in front of Finley Ashworth in goal. In Midfield, Ivan Clements played slightly deeper in the centre, allowing the remaining three players license to get forward and create chances; they were Isaac Kedward on the left, George Meathrel on the right, and Sam McCabe up front. They also had a strong substitutes bench, with Ben Seward, Sammy Clews and Jack Benyon all making appearances.
Swifts made a bright start to the game, with their very first attack a promising one. A drilled pass down the left wing from Taylor Hunt found Isaac Kedward. He took a couple of touches to get the ball out of his feet and draw a defender towards him - he shifted the ball inside, past the defender, and looped a shot over the goalkeeper's head, and just over the crossbar. They did take a deserved early lead from their next venture forward though - another long ball down the line, this time down the right hand side, from Ivan Clements, found Sam McCabe. He took on his man, got his head up, and delayed his cross while he waited for support, which eventually came from George Meathrel. Meathrel's first touch was brilliant, taking one Brackley player out of the game, as he drove into the penalty area, where he was sandwiched between two men, winning a penalty. Sam McCabe stepped up, and slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. His 10th goal of the season.
But credit to Brackley, they could have panicked after such a fast start from their opposition. Instead, they continued to play in the same way, and quickly found a foothold back in the game. A cross from the right wing flicked up via two quick deflections, and bounced off of the arm of Isaac Kedward - leading to a very unfortunate award of a penalty - making it one at either end in around 3 or 4 minutes. This time, the Brackley man stepped up, and ballooned his penalty high over the crossbar. A let of for Chippy.
The game continued at it's blistering pace, and was end to end, with both sides doing their utmost to put the ball in the back of the net. A fabulous tackle and sprint down the touchline from Joseph Darlow set Swifts on their way once again - he took the ball past two players before crossing for Sam McCabe, whose flicked effort with the outside of his right foot skimmed the far post, with the goalkeeper well beaten, seemingly not expecting the shot.
However, just 10 minutes into the game, ANOTHER penalty was given, this time, in favour of Brackley again. Some good work from the Brackley number 11 saw him wriggle his way into the box, and just nick the ball away from the sliding challenge of Taylor Hunt, who was then helpless in making contact with the player, and bringing him down for the spot kick. The penalty was converted this time, struck firmly, and high into the top left hand corner, leaving Finley Ashworth with little chance.
Following the leveler, it was Brackley that were firmly in the ascendancy - two super blocks from Taylor Hunt, a good tackle from Ivan Clements, and an equally impressive save from Finley Ashworth, kept the visitors at bay during a 5-minute onslaught on the Swifts goal, where Brackley threw everything at them, looking to quickly double their tally.
With 15 minutes gone, the pressure from Brackley slowed somewhat, and Swifts began to settle back into some possession, and began to put together some moves of their own - the game returned to it's fast-paced, end to end state - but neither side could create a clear-cut opportunity before the half-time whistle sounded.
The second half began much the same as the first ended, with both teams doing everything they can to get themselves in front. It was Brackley who came the closest to doing just that inside the first 5 minutes - a lifted effort, which was definitely heading wide, was flicked by the head of the number 9 back towards goal, where it cannoned back off of the crossbar.
But unfortunately from a Swifts point of view, it was the visitors who got themselves the first goal of the second half. Perhaps deserved after their 5-minute spell of pressure prior to the goal - a very well-executed switch of play from right to left caught out the Swifts defence, and they were left outnumbered as a floated cross dropped to the Brackley number 10, who was completely unmarked on the back post. With Finley Ashworth quick off his line in an attempt to smother the ball, the Brackley man was clever, just flicking it underneath Ashworth's arm, and into the net.
Despite the game continuing at its rapid pace, there were no real chances for a considerable period in the second half. There were only 8 minutes of the game left to play when Swifts really began to press forward and put considerable pressure on the visitor's goal. They began to dominate the game after a couple of tactical changes. Jack Benyon came on in defence alongside Taylor Hunt and looked comfortable - and the introduction of Sammy Clews to the Swifts attack seemed to add a little spark to everything Swifts looked to create.
Swifts were pressing all over the pitch - Sammy Clews had two shots blocked, Ivan Clements rolled one wide, and Isaac Kedward's route to goal was closed off by a last-ditch tackle, in a position where you'd have fancied him to score. A huge chance then came a couple of minutes later; Jack Benyon won the ball back on halfway for his team and played forward into Isaac Kedward, and suddenly Swifts were 3 on 2. Kedward dragged the defender towards him before looking to thread a pass into Sammy Clews - but the pass was just too heavy, and the goalkeeper was able to just about flick it away from danger.
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for Swifts to find that illusive second goal, and the game ended after a considerable spell of pressure. A game-saving tackle from Jack Benyon in the final minute shouldn't go unmentioned though, as Brackley looked to spark a counter attack with Swifts committing bodies forward.
Brackley look to be a very, very good side - and Swifts more than matched them throughout the game. The two sides continue to share results against each other and everyone is sure it won't be too long before the two sides meet once again. Swifts will be looking to quickly get back into the swing of things though, with their next game coming next week - with an away trip to face Charlton and District (November 24th).