Upminster Town United Panthers 3:6 Newbury Forest (HT 1-4)
Scorers: Jake 8, Caleb 13, 15, 19, Abdullah 48, 58
Assists; Jake 2, Max, Lukas
Player of the Match; Caleb
Starting 9; Max, Majus, Arun, Pavan, Abdullah, Jake, Cameron (c), Lukas, Caleb
Subs all used; Leo, Ismael, Casian
The coldest and heaviest pitch this season was the setting for one of our strongest performances. In the first few minutes Caleb jumped onto 3 great chances but on each occasion just pulled his shots wide of the left hand post. Jake was in top form as he created and finished a chance for himself on 8 minutes when he picked the ball up on the right hand edge of the Panthers' penalty area. He shifted the ball onto his left foot beating a defender and buried it. Between the 13th and 19th minutes we saw the best of Caleb as he grabbed another hat trick. Good finishes when bursting through the Panthers' defence. The best of his goals was the one where we were breaking out of our own defence. Jake received the ball centrally in our half and as Caleb ran ahead of him Jake provided the sweetest of assists with a pass into Caleb's run threading the ball through Panthers' players. So four nil to us after 19 minutes. We had dominated play but as in the first game Panthers were good going forward and we had to work hard to make sure they didn't score. In the last minute of the first half they did pull a goal back from a brilliant finish struck over Max's head giving our keeper no chance.
The second half was more of an even affair but we were still in control. Panthers got a second goal half way through the half with another unstoppable finish but on came Abdullah to score twice to take the game away from panthers. The first of his goals on 48 minutes came from an excellent ball delivered by Max. Abs ran on from the left wing and as the keeper came out to meet him he steered the ball round him for a lovely tap in. 10 minutes later and Lukas on one of his runs down the right beat 3 defenders to slot a cross / shot along the goal line. Abdullah was following up and tapped in again. The scoring was rounded off with yet another top bins Panthers finish to repeat the scoreline from our first meeting back in September. Six three to us!!
Caleb was devastating in the first half. He appeared again to me to be injured when he came on in the second. Jake was creative and worked hard with and without the ball for 60 minutes non-stop. Pavan was brilliant all game, especially in the second half when Panthers were threatening to work their way back into the game. Several times he came to the rescue coming across form his left back slot to stop attacks in the middle. Also he deliberately handled the ball on at least two occasions. The one in our area I would definitely have given a penalty for! It was as good a block / save as we have seen from Max this season! Max himself was top drawer. Never putting a foot wrong even when he drop kicked the ball against the back of Arun's head and caught it again! He was alert at all times and distributed the ball perfectly all game. He intercepted through balls when he needed to. Majus played the whole game at right back and did a great job. He had to use his speed a few times when the Panthers winger attempted to speed past him. Captain Cameron showed some good skill. Once in the second half he received the ball on the left and then cut inside nutmegging and beating a Panthers' defender. Ismael played up front and was unlucky not to score from a long range shot in the second half. It was on target but the keeper made the save. We also saw Leo release a fierce long range shot in the first half that just flew wide. Leo was always available in the middle for a pass and when he received it moved the ball on well. Lukas worked his socks off. He does a great job sticking to his wide position. In the second half he did see more of the ball than in the first and made good use of it. Abdullah started the game in central midfield with Jake and almost scored on a few occasions. When he came off he was frustrated but in the second half when he came on on the left he bagged 2 goals and was always a threat. Arun was as usual a rock at the back. even in the heavy conditions he defended well. Casian was bright and active when he came on down the right. he helped force our way forward as a team when he was on.
A good win BUT....we are getting better but we can move the ball much more effectively if we make more correct decisions on the pitch. for example passing and switching play if we are facing a brick wall ahead of us. It is deciding when the right time to dribble, pass, run, shoot is.
We deserved our victory but we must work hard and that includes me. I must get the best out of the undoubted talent we have in our team.
I can see our players getting better and I am trying to give as much pitch time as possible to our developing talent as I can see they all can contribute and did in fact on Sunday.
Well done team