Sat 22
U11 Team
Wycombe District
Stevenage earn the points

Stevenage earn the points

By Steve Cook
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Tough game against a strong Wycombe

It was back to league action today after three weeks of cup football that had seen us play some good stuff without always getting the rewards – but this is football and you need to take your chances otherwise you always face the risk of losing games that you should perhaps win. If we were to have any chance of winning the Eastern Division of the Southern Counties League our task was very clear, we needed to win our last three fixtures, starting today at home against Wycombe, and then hope that other results were favourable.

I wanted us to start brightly, we reminded the players of the need to be clinical with anything that came our way and I wanted everybody working hard from the first minute and not waiting for the first goal before kicking into gear! We had to be on the front foot and take control of the game.

Unfortunately, we were hit with some injuries to key players ahead of the game and we would really miss the influence of skipper George and big Louis. Elvis was also carrying a slight knock and we decided to use him sparingly even though he said he was ok to play. So Orryn would start today’s game in goal and our new-look back three consisted of Preston, Muno and Freddie. William and Conor were tasked with providing the width today with Alfie and Tom paired in the centre of the pitch and Blake up top leaving just Zach and Elvis available on our bench.

In the opening exchanges it was clear that Wycombe were a very good side, with some very good individuals, and we were having to work hard to keep them at bay as they looked to work the ball to two decent wide players. Our task became harder when Preston had to come off early with a stomach issue, but I haver to say that Elvis did a grand job in defence even though that’s an unfamiliar position for him.

But Stevenage scored first, probably against the run of play at the time, when one of many good clearances from Orryn found it’s way to Blake on our left hand side, he did well to beat his man and deliver a pass across the area to the unmarked Conor and he made no mistake from inside the box to make it 1-0. We had several chances to have increased that lead, Blake shot straight at the keeper when in on goal and Tom Palmer created a chance out of nothing with a superb spin on the edge of the box, but unfortunately shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

But Wycombe were still causing problems at the other end and Muno, Elvis and Freddie were digging in and Orryn made a couple of good interceptions behind them. With a minute of the half left, we gave away yet another free-kick in a dangerous position at the edge of the box and Wycombe’s effort was well saved by Orryn, however their player reacted first to the rebound and netted for 1-1 just as the final whistle was blown.

We don’t often have to be tough with the boys during the break, but today was an exception. We were conceding far too many unnecessary free kicks, in dangerous positions, and I felt that our midfield was playing too far forward and getting caught at the breakdown leaving a massive gap for Wycombe to exploit. We sent them out with their ears ringing and told them to think about their positions, in particular we asked Tom to sit just a little deeper and not be drawn to the ball – and allow Alfie to push on and join attacks.

The second half was a massive improvement all round, the back three continued to work hard and I thought Muno was outstanding today, making some last-ditch tackles and standing strong, but Freddie and Preston also contributed to a good defensive display. With Tom sat deeper he had more influence on the game, cutting out attacks and feeding our wide players, and we started to look a lot better.

We went in front again when Alfie unleashed a left-foot effort from distance that had the keeper beaten and it was important to stay strong now. Wycombe still had a few good chances but Orryn was having a good game and clearing up loose balls in behind the back three, and his kicking today was superb, he also made one great save from close range.

With five minutes remaining the game was made safe when Conor grabbed a second with a smart finish in the box and then Zach Lambert raced into the box to add a fourth in the last minute to crown a hard-working display. A much better second half performance, even if the score line flattered us slightly, well done boys!

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Match details

Match date

Sat 22, May 2021