Sat 02
Woking District
U11 Team
Stevenage Begin New Season With Victory

Stevenage Begin New Season With Victory

By Steve Cook
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Eight goal thriller in Surrey

The season is starting to kick into gear now, and after last week’s useful outing against Cambridge United’s academy it was time to turn our attention to the start of the league campaign. It was an early start and a trip round the M25 to Surrey to face Woking District over in Knaphill.
We had to make a few changes to the squad today with boys not feeling well or injured, it actually meant that we only had 10 boys to choose from our 15-man squad! So, we brought in Harrison for his first game in goal and we also started with a back three of Emmanuel, Tommy and Thomas. Zach (captain for the day in the absence of Elvis) and Lennon were given wide roles, with George and Coby starting in the centre of midfield leaving Orest to lead the line in attack. Our only sub today would be Gene and we would use him later in the first half.

We wanted the boys to remember some of the instructions/commands we worked on during midweek, knowing when to slide, drop, press or get up/out as a team. We asked them to shrink the pitch when not in possession and to transition really quickly after turnover of the ball so that we stretched play in possession.

In a changed away strip of yellow and blue Stevenage started the game quite brightly, I have to say that the boys have picked up a lot of good habits from the first three training sessions and the way we were knocking the ball around with minimal touches was pleasing on the eye.
During that early play, Thomas stood out on the Stevenage side, winning headers and tackles and using the ball well with both his left and right foot. I know he doesn’t play as a left back, but he has been doing a grand job of late and today I thought he was exceptional.

As always seems to be the case, as we were enjoying most of the possession, the hosts scored with literally their first attack of the game which lifted the home side and their supporters. They doubled the lead in bizarre fashion as a seemingly innocent effort from distance confused everybody and somehow ended up in the back of the net for 2-0. I wasn’t panicked at this stage, we were still trying to do the right things, building attacks patiently from back to front playing through the phases, and we looked dangerous – especially down each flank with Lennon and Zach teasing the full backs with their pace.

We got back in the game quickly, with George Oliver scoring from distance and then we made a quick change with Gene coming on for Coby. Indeed, it was Gene that was involved in the build-up to the equaliser, which concluded with Lennon crossing from the left and Orest meeting it at the near post for 2-2. We could, and should, have gone in leading with Tommy having two efforts go close one of which brought a good save from the home keeper.

At the break we encouraged the boys to continue playing quickly, moving the ball around and attacking in wide positions to get crosses into the box. George went close again at the start of the half shooting just wide, then he almost got on the end of another good delivery from Lennon only for his header to go narrowly over the bar.

Woking attacked at the other end but a last-ditch superb tackle from Emmanuel saw us immediately attack at the other end as Coby slid in Orest to make it 3-2. I was hoping we’d push on from here, but Woking won another corner and we didn’t defend it well enough as their player volleyed home from close range for 3-3. The joy didn’t last long though, as Stevenage attacked down the left hand side again and Lennon’s cross was pushed out by the home keeper only for Gene to pounce and convert for 4-3.

Stevenage looked the likely team to score again, and we did so when Lennon once again went on a superb run down the left and crossed for Orest to score from close range for 5-3. The nearest any side came to another after this was when Zach Lambert went on a superb solo run from his own half, showing speed and skill as he passed four home players and then crossed in the box for Orest who missed connecting by an inch as the far post.

Overall a good performance, we were a threat throughout and on another day may have doubled that score. We have some things to work on still, and players to come into the team, but we start with a win and three points so I can’t ask for much more. Thanks to Dean for running the line, and to all of our parents for getting the boys there on time and looking really smart in shirt and tie!

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Match date

Sat 02, Oct 2021