Down but not out
By Geoffrey Balmont
MOW U16 give best team in the league a run for their money
After two wins on the bounce (plus the fact we probably should of when the 3 game previous to this), our form and confidence were high, although we knew we would be in for a tough fixture against the best footballing team in our division. Our plan was to staying the game until half time, keeping it tight and structured, then going more attacking in the second half.
The first half showed how much the boys have progressed in terms of tactical understanding and knowing the roles they have to play as an individual and as part of a team unit. LG had the majority share of possession (which we expected), but each and every player worked their socks off to nullify their attacking threat. Defending corners and free kicks with everything we had, blocking the passing lanes and trying to frustrate the opposition.
We did have a good 10-15 minute period where we were looking dangerous on the break. Frustrating LG and trying to win the ball in front of our area and then break quickly. Kai summing this up with great pressure, stealing the ball off one of their centre backs, driving into the area and cutting the ball back, however it was just out of synch with Theo’s run as the ball was a little behind him. Although their keeper didn’t have to make a save, Jasons wasn’t being too bother at the other end either. But he remained sharp, pushing an in-swinging corner over his bar.
Despite our finest efforts, a momentary lapse of concentration just outside the box and their player swung a foot at the ball, got a wonderful connection as the ball whistled through a crowded area and into the far bottom corner of the net, a great finish which there was little anyone could do about it.
Half time and 1-0
We spoke about how well we had frustrated them and that we now had to gamble and be a bit more attacking. This could leave us a bit more exposed at the back but we prefer to lose 4-3 than 1-0 and at least have a go. We wanted to get the ball out wide as they were playing with a back three, so the coach decided that the two wide players would push up and almost make a front three with the CF.
Subs made, tactical instructions give and away we went.
The second half was similar in that LG had more of the possession, but we were starting to cause them more problems and they couldn’t cope with Drew in a more advanced position. Our defence had to work even harder this half as they had less protection as we pushed for an equaliser.
Drew provided the spark, winning the ball, beating two players, one with skill, one with blistering pace, crossed the ball for Lloyd who took a touch and with the defender racing across to close him down and the keeper narrowing the angle, tried slotting the ball past the keeper. However, the keeper did exceptionally well, staying on his feet and making himself big, blocking the shot with his outstretched leg.
We then had the misfortune of conceding when we looked to be getting ready for an equaliser, as a long ball was dealt with Jake, but a clash of heels with the chasing LG player saw him lose balance and although the defence tried to clear the ball, it fell fortuitously to their midfield who fired in from the edge of the box with a fine finish.
Although we did have one more half chance and looked very dangerous on the break, it was not meant to be as we finished on the end of a 2-0 defeat.
A proud day for me as a coach as the boys played an exceptionally good team (that may with this division and also got to a semi-final of the league cup) and stuck to our tactical plan with extreme efficiency. Then didn’t have a worthwhile shot on goal and still managed to score twice. We limited them to half chances, created some of our own and made it a thoroughly completive game of football and can hold our heads up high. You couldn’t argue that LG dominated the game in terms of possession and deserved the win, but we didn’t make it easy for them and on another day could of got a draw.
Jason – Took over the gloves today and hasn’t played in goal for a long time. Not that you would know, he was totally secure, tipped a difficult cross over the bar, came out and closed the angle several times to deny opportunities, excellent distribution, didn’t put a foot wrong all game!
Sean – Had to mainly focus on his defensive responsibilities today and dealt with it very well. Under pressure a lot of the time but still kept his composure to send us on the attack. Worked hard and had to be withdrawn due to injury.
Toby – Strong and solid and very physical when he needed it. Was often overloaded 2v1 on the left but tried to hold his position and deal with threat effectively. Always looked to play good balls down the line and into the channels.
Ethan – Put in a number of timely and very strong challenges and gave 100% for his team mates. Tower of a player at the back, summed up when a ball came down from so high had snow on it, misjudged the slight and still managed a diving/falling headed clearance.
Drew – Brilliant at centre back and with his partner in crime they totally nullified the attack in the first half. Then went further up field in the second have and was devastating on the left, bursting through and created our best two opportunities but also battle well defensively.
Lloyd – Had to play a couple of different positions today and put everything into his performance for his team. Great work rate and his movement off the ball was excellent. Keeper made one good save against him 1v1, and he looked our biggest option to get a goal.
Liam – Took on the opposition midfield like it was a personal battle. Tenacious, determined, physical and relentless in the pressure his put on the opposition and the work rate that he displayed. Was shattered at the end of the game, due to the fact he left it all out there on the pitch.
Alf – Tremendous industry in midfield and his determination was clear to see, especially after resting at the start of the second half. He was brought on and then spent the next minutes charging around putting pressure on the ball, smashing into tackles and generally injecting the team with some much needed energy to see the game out.
Theo – Another who rampaged around in the middle of the park and refused to stop working, tackling and chasing people down. Responsible for several turn overs but didn’t think his job was done then, often being an outlet in midfield driving us forward.
Alex – Another who had to concentrate on his defensive role today, tracked back with his man but didn’t get the opportunity to do damage at the higher end of the field. When he did get the ball to attack his footwork was excellent and he looked to link up.
Kai – Lived off limited service in the first half but was all action, determination and work-rate. Didn’t moan or complain, just got on with his job and hassled and harried their defensive line. Created one great opportunity in the first half through sheer effort and desire.
Tom – Took responsibility for putting in a grafting performance in midfield. Closed down by the opposition so quickly we didn’t get to see his passing range as it was never given time on the ball. However, he didn’t shy away and offered himself up as the pivot to switch the play on several occasions.
Devonte – Two positions in the second half and performed them with absolute effect. Firstly as an attacking outlet down the right, pressuring the defenders and constantly offering for the run in-behind. Switch to left back and continued his good work nullifying their threat down that side of the pitch.
Jim – Started well when he came on, full of energy, strength and desire, but turn his ankle and had to be withdrawn.
Jake – Perfect example of a player listening to his coach. Tactically spot on and did everything calmly and composed, making sure of his clearances in the air and off the ground. Very brave in a couple of challenges and provided no push over to the opposition.
Parents Man of The Match
Drew – Awesome at CB in the first half, devastating in attack in the second half.
Jason – Hasn’t played in goal for a whole season, stepped in when we needed him to and didn’t put a foot wrong.
Liam – Did get to displaying his passing ability today, but ran himself into the ground for the good of the team