Local Derby Delight
By Geoffrey Balmont
Battling performance in tough game.
Mid-week evening games are always very difficult to predict and the second time we have played Fishersgate Flyers on a Wednesday this season. Always a tough physical game and Andy Moore setup the team perfectly for what was to be a very exciting encounter.
Right from the off you could tell the boys were up for this match and happy to put in a battling display in all areas of the pitch. The football wasn’t free flowing and it had the feeling of a cup tie and challenges went flying in and there wasn’t a player on the pitch that wasn’t fully committed to their cause.
Our boys looked like that had a bit more quality about their play and we passed the ball around where we could and our link up and combination play was excellent. This was summed up with a great bit of inter-passing and exchange of the ball, combined with excellent movement off the ball as Lloyd timed his run perfectly to get in behind the defence and latch on to Drew’s through ball, keeping his composure and sweeping the ball past the keeper and into the bottom corner.
However there was danger at both ends and we needed Kyle to pull of save of the season (and he already has a few) as a wicked shot took a nick, flew through a crowd of players and took and awkward bounce, Kyle flung himself to his right at full stretch and tipped the bouncing shot around his post…sensational goal keeping. We could have had a few more but were denied by a case of POFS (Premature Offside Flagging Syndrome), seeing the flag raised almost 10 times!
We continue to push and probe and looked deadly on the counter attack. The midfield always pressing and winning the ball in great positions and immediately playing forward for us to utilise our pace. The danger turned into another well worked goal, good possession based play in midfield and Jim slipped in Lloyd again, who’s perfectly timed run was completely over shadowed by his calm finish and he simply passed the ball in the bottom corner leaving the goalkeeper stood like a statue.
Before half time came a momentary lapse of conversation allowed Fishersgate pressure to result in a goal with a well taken shot that flew into the bottom corner of the goal. Flyers back in the game and this gave them some renewed believe.The whistle went for half time in a pulsating first half.
We spoke about continuing to move the ball quickly and getting it out wide and then looking to see if we could switch the play. We knew Flyers would come out of the blocks in the second half and try to put us under pressure. We also noticed the referee speaking with their linesman, probably checking that the spring loaded flag was working correctly.
Whistle went and surprisingly we were the ones who dominated Flyers and didn’t let them get any early imitative in the second half. Snapping into tackles into midfield and the defensive unit refusing to be physically bullied and they stood strong and determined. We continued to look devastating on the break every time we won the ball and easily could of scored more, but the final pass selection or execution and some dubious finishing meant we didn’t extend our lead. Then a mix up in defence left the striker with a easy finish, Kyle di well on the edge of his area to get a nick on his shot, but that seemed to add speed to it and it flow inches of the floor, from nowhere Ethan flew across the goal and produced a spectacular clearance to preserve our lead.
A couple of injuries and fatigue meant we had to make further changes, but this had little effect on the play. Then a super bit of play, we broke up their attack in midfield and Alf put a delightful ball over the top, Lloyd was onto in a flash, driving at the defender on the edge of the area, a quick dip of the shoulder and he shifted the ball inside onto his right foot and sent a delightful curling finish into the opposite corner of the net, 3-1 and fully deserved.
We continue to push and could of had the 4th and 5th goal, Daniel racing through the middle of the pitch but good positioning from the keeper saw the shot blocked. But credit to Flyers who never gave up and grabbed a goal back with a fine shot from the edge of the area that nestled into the lower corner of the net. 3-2 and you could tell a bit of tension got into our play as Flyers starting launch the ball up the pitch and into our penalty area. We almost caught them with some great pressure and won the ball in their half, Abdul striking the ball first time from 40 yards with the keeper out of position, we held our breath as the ball went over by a cross bards width, denying him a sensational goal.
The boys were totally committed, blocks, headers, crunching tackles, all keeping Flyers at bay. Another ball into the box which was half cleared, ricocheted and bounced to their striker 6 yards out, surely this is the equaliser, until Ethan threw in another last ditch block and the ball was cleared. We hung on for the final whistle to emerge victorious in another pulsating match.
Score-line doesn’t reflect our dominance in the game and the fact that we had some many more chances than the opposition. More grit and determination than style, but our play was perfect for our tactics and our combination and shooting practice really showed. Totally deserved victory and another example of our performance levels going upwards.
Kyle – Played the sweeper keeper role superbly, coming of his line several times to clear the ball and giving his defence extreme confidence to play a high line. Pulled off his best save of the season to push a bouncing shot around the posts with his finger tips.
Sean – Used his power and pace to great effect in both transitional phases of play. His ball manipulation skills are improving every week and he showed this with some excellent carrying of the ball to get us up the pitch at all times.
Abdul –Came back on in the second half at right midfield which is a new position for him and was unlucky not to score with a 40 yard lob over the keeper. Great work rate and attitude and put in a grafting shift which was required of him.
Ethan – Had the task of taking care of their ‘troublesome’ centre forward and work well with Jason to ensure he was always man marking the striker. Dominate both communication wise and with his pace and power. Saved two goals with an incredible clearance of the line and tremendous block on the penalty area in the final minute.
Jason – Solid and strong, he had to put in a determined physical display and did so with style. Communicated well with his centre back partner to follow tactical instructions from the coaches. Never panics in possession and looks for a way to play out.
Liam – Put us on the front foot at every opportunity. Applied pressure in all the right areas and as much effort put into winning the ball back as there was in attacking. Making recovery and penetrating runs even in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Theo – Aggressive, physical pressure applied high up the pitch but just as willing to make those defensive runs to help out his defence. Huge work rate and contributes effectively in all areas of the pitch and transitional stages.
Alf – Tenacity and determination perfectly balanced with technical ability and an eye for a pass. Alf’s form is better than ever at the moment and every single minute he was on the pitch he was involved in everything good that we did. Happy to get stuck in physically as well.
Lloyd – Superb hatrick, that was made up of two very clam and controlled finishes 1v1 and then wrapped up with a brilliant curled finished after twisting the defender inside and out. However, this was backed up with a hard working display that showed great team play.
Drew – So dangerous, driving at defenders with pace, switch the play with 40 yard pinpoint cross field balls and working so hard defensively you could of thought there was two of him on the pitch. Unplayable on this form.
Jim – Utilised his pace, strength and determination to with fabulous impact. Another who is equally balanced in his attacking desire and yet his willingness to track back and defend. Never shirked a challenge today and battled extremely well in a physical confrontation.
Daniel – Came on into a physical game and offered a bit of guile on the ball with some great turns and skills to give the centre backs a new problem. His ability to find space off the ball is second to none and typified with a great through run on to a great pass but his shot was saved by the keeper.
Devonte – Back after several weeks injured and didn’t look like he had missed a minute of training. Great performance at left back, strong and pacey and played some great stuff out from the back. The highlight being a cross field 40 yard pass with the outside of his boot.
Tom – Almost scored another goal of the season contender as he replicated his mazy run (aka against Crawley Down Gatwick) beating three players but he couldn’t get his shot off. Excellent work rate and some quality passing.
Parents player of the match
Difficult one this week, and to be fair this was reflected in the parents votes. In the end it was split between these two;
Lloyd – Fabulous hatrick but he did more than just finish off the moves today, his link up play in intelligent movement complimented by his work rate
Ethan – Saved two certain goals with a clearance off the line and brave block in the last minute. Dominated their fast and physical centre forward.
Kyle – Special, special save to stop them getting an early equaliser.
Jason – Excellent performance at the heart of the defence
Drew – Galvanised the team for battle and led by example