Scorers: J.OBRIEN 2, C.OBRIEN 1, RYAN 1
Our first home fixture of 2018 sees the Reserves welcome Grappenhall Sports to Brantingham Road. Grappenhall are currently having a good season and sit in 8th position having had some good results, so this will be a test for the youngsters as they are usually quite a big physical side.
Maine Road kick off towards the Wilbraham Road end and go close inside the first minute as Tom Keyworth splits the defence for Joe OBrien who puts the ball across the 6 yard box for brother Christy OBrien to hit the side netting. Good early attacking pressure pays off on 4mins as a Christy OBrien draws the free kick and steps up to take it from out wide, the curling ball clears everybody and leaves the keeper stranded as it finds the back of the net at the far post (1-0). 7mins Grappenhall come close as a long ball bounces awkwardly as Jack Blundell heads clear and the No.10 chests the ball down and shoots wide from the edge of the box. 11mins a great passage of play as Christy OBrien on a good run puts joe OBrien in behind, Joe OBrien lays back to the edge of the box for Tom Keyworth who puts a well weighted pass in behind to pick up the run of Joe OBrien, but the keeper does well to save low down. Maine Road are dominating the game with some attractive football and pin Grappenhall in their own half but on 12mins they get back in the game against the run of play as a long ball catches the back four out as they find themselves to high up the pitch and the No.10 who looked offside gets away on one on one with keeper Jake Howarth finishes well (1-1). Then on 16mins Grappenhall go in front through the No.10 again as another long ball causes the back four problems and he again finishes well past keeper Jake Howarth (1-2). This was a cruel blow as Grappenhall have managed to get out of their half 3 times with long balls and scored twice and this will be a test for the youngsters to see how they come back and get a well deserved equaliser on 28mins as Jack Ryan picks out Owen Pollitt and a good ball in behind picks out Joe OBrien and a great finish across the keeper goes in at the far post (2-2). 3mns later on 31mins its Joe OBrien again causing problems as his movement off the ball towards goal leaves the No.4 flat footed and he decides his only option is to rugby tackle him to the ground to stop him getting on the end of the cross and no hesitation from the referee as he points to the penalty spot, Jack Ryan steps up and puts the penalty in the back of the net (3-2) and nobody could deny Maine Road deserved to be in the lead. 34mins Maine Road extend their lead as Finn Thompson picks out Tom Keyworth who splits the defence for another good run in behind from Joe OBrien and again he finds the back of the net with a good finish (4-2). 38mins Tom Keyworth picks up a yellow card which was a little harsh given it was the first free kick Maine Road had conceded. 42mins we should have made it 5 as Jack Ryan finds Christy OBrien out wide and the cross lands at the feet of Owen Pollitt at the far post but he drags the shot wide.
This was a dominant first half and could quite easily been further ahead but we had to go out strong in the second half as Grappenhall wont be happy with how we have controlled the game. The next goal would be the important one, if it goes to 5-2 that should kill off the game but if it goes 4-3 then it could be a difficult 45mins.
The game is quite flat and nothing of excitement to report. Maine Road aren’t making good use of the ball in possession and haven’t got it out wide to Christy OBrien who terrorised the defence in the first half. Grappenhall on the other hand are using the width quite well but we defend well and stop any attacking threat without keeper Jake Howarth being tested. 67mins Finn Thompson is replaced by Tyreke Mills. 72mins Jack Ryan is replaced by Joe Simms, 75mins Tom Markham is replaced by Jake Hurst and 76mins Christy OBrien is replaced by Moad Rumash. 80mins Maine Road have a clear chance to make it 5 as a long kick from keeper Jake Howarth clears the Grappenhall back four and Joe OBrien beats the offside trap and one on one will feel disappointed with the finish as it goes well wide, before the restart Christy OBrien returns as he replaces Tom Keyworth. The last 15mins Grappenhall have had the better of the game without creating anything but we give them the opening they were searching for as Jake Hurst sticks out a leg and trips the Grappenhall player and again an easy decision for the referee. Jake Howarth having had little to do all afternoon pulls of a great save to keep the score at 4-2. 86mins the No.10 is booked. Grappenhall keep the pressure on and go close on 87mins as a good ball in to the box is hooked wide by No.14
Another inconsistent 90mins, a great first half but a poor 2nd half and we have seen this most of the season, against a better team we would have been punished today and may have come away with nothing, as the youngsters gain experience the consistency will come but we need to find away of playing for more than 45mins. Joe OBrien was outstanding today and with a bit more care could have had 5 or 6.
Team: HOWARTH; MARKHAM; SMITH; BLUNDELL; WILLIAMS; THOMPSON; POLLITT; RYAN; J.O’BRIEN; KEYWORTH; C.O’BRIEN Subs: HURST; RUMASH; SIMMS, MILLS