“I accept the squad rotation system didn’t work and it was a mistake on my part to try and involve 9 players. Thank you all for accepting the time ‘on the bench’ and for giving it your all when on the pitch. I will not be using that strategy again.”
John Myatt, Team Manager
The latest in what seems like a constant stream of fixtures saw the Wanderers Over 65 squad in action in the WFA National Cup.
The format was 6 a side with a maximum squad of 9 and rolling substitutes. Two halves of 20 minutes, and then if level, extra time and penalties. Our opponents were Blue Flames who travelled down from Newcastle for the 1pm kick off.
Team Manager John Myatt knew we were going to be in for a tough game and assembled the maximum squad of 9 for team briefing and warm up prior to the match.
Conscious that Blue Flames would present a physical challenge John had been working on a plan to involve all 9 as a way of refreshing the ‘legs on the pitch’. He explained that this would involve regular rotation of players in order to keep everyone fresh and avoid anyone being on the bench for undue periods.
The Wanderers squad consisted of:
Martin Burrell (keeper)
It soon became apparent that we were up against a fitter, stronger and more organised team that knew how to play together. Sadly we conceded a couple of early goals and were chasing the game from that time on.
Paul and Eddie were solid in defence with Dave interchanging on a regular basis. John played in midfield, and up top we started with Mally and Rookey with Brian regularly switching with Mally. Denis again showed his versatility by having stints in defence, midfield and attack.
Despite our best efforts we created few chances although we did manage to score a couple of beauties . These comprised of a long rage effort from John and an absolute stonker (Kevin de Bruyne style) from Paul. We also saw Rookey unluckily hit the bar. Sadly Mally suffered an injury in the second half and we missed his younger legs.
Our opponents were regularly penalised for running offences resulting in one of their players being sin binned for a total of 3 offences. We found it difficult to maximise opportunities from indirect free kicks resulting from these offences against opponents who were well drilled defensively.
The final score saw the Wanderers defeated by a margin of eight goals to two.
Overall, it’s fair to say that we were outplayed today and there’s no doubt a lot of truth in the old adage that you learn more from your defeats than you do from your victories. None of us like to lose games but there’s no disgrace when beaten by a better team.
The squad rotation system didn’t work and the desire to involve everyone resulted in a disjointed approach that lacked continuity. John has acknowledged that our more conventional approach of one (maximum two) substitutes would have been better and may have resulted in a closer game but this post-match feedback from Brian McGrath is worth sharing:
"Our players are not mobile enough to cover the ground required when playing teams like that. It's not a criticism but an observation. No amount of planning will change that."
We will continue to look for opportunities for our Club to participate in competitions at all age levels and endeavour to find ways to prepare our squads more effectively.
Following the match we met with our opponents in the bar at Wakefield Football Centre in order to share refreshments before their long journey home. We were able to share our experiences of Walking Football with Mally acting as interpreter!!
Updated 13:14 - 24 Apr 2018 by David Holbrow