Newbury Forest 4:4 EMH Eagles (HT 2-1)
scorers; OG 11, Caleb 18, 53, Abdullah 60+2
assists; ?, Max, Abdullah, Lukas
Player of the Match; Jake
Starting 9; Max, Saad, Majus, Arun, Leo (c), Abdullah, Lukas, Ismael, Caleb
Subs all used; Pavan, Cameron, Stanley, Jake, Casian
Our second game this season against EMH Eagles was, like the first meeting in September, an up and down affair. We took the lead after 11 minutes after some end to end stuff where after some build up play we got into a series of 50-50 challenges on the edge of the Eagles penalty area that led to a ball being smashed against a defender for him to see it rebound into his own net! 7 minutes later we extended our lead when Max launched a long clearance down the inside right channel for Caleb to run onto and slot away nicely. To be fair we were not really playing well. We were not finding our own players enough with our passes. We were often making the wrong decisions when we did have the ball. We were getting the ball to Lukas on the right a bit more than previous weeks and he was attacking brilliantly but we were still trying to dribble through a compact middle of the pitch too much only to lose the ball. EMH were a good attacking side with some good players and they were always a threat. The young ref was doing well and was strict at adding on time for stoppages so in the 6th minute of first half injury time EMH crucially pulled a goal back.
In the second half EMH came out fighting and equalised after 4 minutes and took the lead ten minutes later. With 13 minutes left they extended their lead to 4-2 and they were supremely confident and playing well. As usual it was time to dig deep and as usual we did. All over the pitch our team was fighting to get back into the game. Lukas was surging down the right, Jake and Abdullah were covering every blade of grass. Jake was always looking to find the right pass and set us on our way forward. At the same time EMH were continuing to threaten and our defence and midfield were holding strong against the now super confident Eagles attack.
With 7 minutes left of normal time Abs played a great ball to the right through the Eagles defensive line for Caleb to break onto. Caleb took it forward and as the keeper came out he slotted it through his legs into the far corner of the net. That's five goals he has now against EMH this season. The game continued in the same manner and for the second game running Abdullah received a pass, this time from Lukas, in the area and grabbed an equaliser which was the last action of the match. 4-4. Some of our players had really good games. Player of the Match Jake, Abs, and Lukas stood out for me. Jake was always willing to work without the ball as well as showing his ability with it. He dug really deep in the second half. Lukas was great with the ball in attack down the right mostly. Abs was his usual, never-say-die, self and again as you have read and seen snatched the equaliser right at the end. I thought that Caleb with 2 goals contributed well but he still looks restricted by injury. As usual all players contributed and had some good moments. Leo, as Captain for the day, got around the pitch well in the first half and was supporting the attack. Fitness is coming now. He knocked some nice passes about. Majus, who got an injury in the first 10 minutes, had another good game. Saad was his usual combative self. He got stronger as the game went on and as EMH picked their game up so did he. Pavan was back to his usual high quality after his bout of chicken pox. Arun was strong at the back, again, like Saad, he picked his form up in the second half to help keep the score down. Ismael gave it 100% and was effective down his wing. Casian came on in the second half and made some good runs down the left. Happy birthday to Stan who had to show some good fighting spirit once the game got physical in the middle. Cameron again played some nice passes and Max along with his "assist" made a couple of really good saves, one in the second half which stopped an EMH goal which would certainly have won the game for them.
Massively entertaining BUT.......
At 9:30am (the meet time) we had 9 players ready to start warming up. This is now starting to become a problem. We have been at home for weeks now at the same time each Sunday and still we are late. Next week we are away at a ground that I have never been to in the second round of the cup. I plead with you to leave in enough time to be there by whatever meet time is given. We need to focus on the game and leave all the nonsense chatter until later. The chatter is now getting out of hand during training and warm up for matches. FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS! Leaders are emerging in our team now and they need to clamp down on this situation. This is starting to happen and it is pleasing.
We need to be mentally as well as physically ready for each match. This doesn't guarantee success but it gives us the very best chance.
Our team is a ball of manic energy sometimes, at training, warm ups and in games. When we channel that energy into thoughtful strong play we are a delight but yesterday we saw us too often gifting the ball to the EMH attack or midfield in dangerous areas. To be fair conditions were heavy under foot and that doesn't help at all. So overall not too bad.
Next week is the cup so I am going to manage that game slightly different as you have seen in the previous round. All players improve with more time on the pitch and that is what I want. With 5 substitutes it is sometimes hard to juggle that desire. In the cup if we win we will have another additional game for all to enjoy so I will be doing my utmost to help the boys achieve the win whilst getting all players part of a game.
Onwards and upwards