GAP and Offa Share The Spoils In 10 Goal Thriller
A 5-5 draw away at the high-flying Offa see's the young Nomads start 2017 with a point.
In the opening game of 2017 and the second half of the season, the Reds travelled to The Offa Athletic, hoping to do the double after a close 2-1 victory at the 3G earlier in the season.
Manager Lee Woodward knew the quality that the Offa possessed, who are still on great cup runs with games in hand that could catapult them up near the top of the league if they win them.
The game couldn't have started any better for the away team. After 2 minutes the ball was in the net for Nomads, a free-kick won by on the right was whipped in by Dominic Elsey-McHugh. The ball was of such quality that Euros Barker's deft flick saw it bullet into the stanchion.
The opening 10 minutes Nomads seemed quite comfortable, without causing much of a further problem to the home teams goal. It was after the 10-minute mark that the Offa pushed on. They pressed the back 4 well and this resulted in a back-pass bobbling onto goalkeeper Jay Loyden and the ball dropping to the Offa striker who levelled the game.
This sparked the home team into life and they added a second goal shortly after. The first half was then cruise control for Offa, who were the better team without being ruthless enough to carve out more goal scoring opportunities. The centre 3 of Owen Manley, Jack Aitken and especially Andrew Ely kept the Offa away from the middle and forced them to mount attacks down the sides. The balls in were dealt with by George Coulton and Ben Waddilove.
It looked as though Nomads were going to go into the break at 2-1 down, but on the stroke of half time the young Reds levelled. Some great work from Leon Doran down the left saw him link up with Elsey-McHugh, the latter arrowed a cross to the back post, the ball was on target and as a result lobbed the keeper and dropped straight into the top corner.
Half time was a chat around the resilience of the Nomads to come in at 2-2 when the Offa had much of the tempo. The Offa play a very organised shape with good balance, so Woodward and Manley tweaked the Nomads formation before sending the team out.
The shape tweak worked a treat and within 10 minutes the Nomads were back in the lead. Elsey-McHugh was felled wide left, in a mirror of the first goal it was Doran this time who stepped up. His ball was in the perfect area, bending into the far post. Players were throwing themselves at it to get a touch but it evaded everybody and left the keeper stranded as it went into the bottom corner.
At 3-2 Nomads kicked on and their fitness started showing, the Offa worked their socks off but players were slowing down and were punished. Elsey-McHugh showed some excellent feet before rifling the ball at goal, the Offa centre back got a touch, which diverted the spinning ball past the wrong-footed keeper, who despite a great effort to change direction, couldn't keep it out.
It was 4-2 but the Offa were brave and in one of the rare attacks on goal to this point they caused havoc in the box and scored from a great ball in out-wide to make it 4-3 and the Nomads something to think about.
On the 70th minute the 2-goal cushion was restored, striker Euros Barker was fouled 25 yards from goal. He picked himself up and smashed the resulting free kick around the wall and into the corner.
At 5-3 the Nomads were still pushing on, as is their style. The Offa threw caution to the winds and their wide players stayed high for counter attacks. This resulted in many 1v1's at the back for Nomads, on one such occasion Euros Barker broke away and was running clean through on goal, the defender recovered and put in a tackle but didn't get the ball. The ref gave the free kick 19 yards out however in a bizarre situation didn't even speak to the defender, who he had just penalised for felling the striker in a goal scoring opportunity as the last man.
With 5 minutes to go it was just about game management for Nomads. However, in a rush of blood defenders were diving into tackles inside the box and this resulted in a penalty being given away to the Offa. The penalty was scored to make it 5-4.
Offa then scored from Nomads' restart. The ball was hit routinely hit back from the centre, however there was an indecisive moment at the back which allowed the Offa striker to sprint and close the ball down, the resulting clearance was hit against the striker, 40 yards from goal. The ball flew into the air and lobbed the keeper. It’s one of those freak things that you see maybe once every couple of seasons.
At 5-5 the game was ended and it really felt like 2 points thrown away for Woodward. On the balance of the game maybe a draw was a fair result, with the Offa being more dominant in the first half and Nomads more dominant in the second. However, a 2 goal cushion and pretty comfortable with 5 minutes to go and an inability to see the game out is a bitter pill to swallow.
The Offa rarely lose at home and 3 points at the Rec would have been a good scalp for the young Nomads.
Euro's Barker (Assist Dom Elsey-McHugh)
Dominic Elsey-McHugh (Assist Leon Doran)
Leon Doran (Assist Dom Elsey-McHugh)
Man of The Match - Andrew Ely
As you can see from the statistics, Dom Elsey-McHugh was involved in 4 goals today but was just pipped to the accolade by Ely. This speaks volumes to the performance that the industrious midfielder put in today. The Offa are a very strong and physical team and Ely matched this, winning the ball back countless times in the middle for Nomads. In the first half, he literally stopped wave after wave of the ball coming through the middle. He later dropped into defence for an unwell George Coulton and didn't put a foot wrong.