We’re in a very strange division. In a week where Ambassadors somehow held Predators to a 0-0 draw and Whyke remain top, we came up against the best team we have faced all season, a side that bafflingly now reside in 8th place after yesterday’s game. We have played 3 of the top 4 now, and yet none of them were as good as The Unicorn, or Predators Reserves – who lie in 5th.
The talk from The Unicorn side after the game was that they had their best side out of the season, and it showed. They finished 18 points ahead of us in Division Four last season, and beat us 5-1 at their place.
After an even first 10-15 minutes Unicorn started to take total control of the game, and our inability to string any kind of possession together invited wave after wave of attacks. They had two excellent wide players, who ran at us with pace and skill. However, they were unable to capitalise and despite their pressure Sam Archer was required to make very few difficult saves. With literally the last kick of the half, Brendan curled in a free kick to put us 1-0 up.
The second half carried on in much the same vein but we continued to defend gallantly, particular at centre back. Ben Ansell was again colossal. Unicorn spurned chance after chance and a goalmouth scramble saw them crash the ball against the bar, before seconds later the ball ran agonisingly across the line. We were hanging on by the skin of our teeth.
With 20 minutes left, we gave away a needless penalty, and although Sam got a hand to it it wasn’t enough. This finally galvanised us and we started to play some football. We immediately went on the attack and had two excellent chances in quick succession, with Brendan volleying wide from close range and Charlie Treasure’s lob going narrowly over.
All of a sudden we looked a different side, and another chance fell our way in the box when a superb 30 yard pass from Bundy found Harry Somes out wide, who delivered an excellent cross from deep which Ben Ansell couldn’t connect cleanly with.
In the end, a 1-1 scoreline reflected a very good defensive display as well as a lack of cohesion and creativity throughout the first 70 minutes of the match. On the whole we are playing well but there are still 1 or 2 areas where I feel I am banging my head against a brick wall. Just because we are in a new much tougher division, I don’t think we should feel happy to just “compete”. I want us to demand more of ourselves and aim for a minimum of a top half finish. I would like to suggest that David Bundock adds “switching off” to the fines list (genuinely) as I am getting bored of seeing players half-awake or disinterested when the ball is just yards from them. My frustration comes from knowing that we have a seriously good squad this year, but at times we aren’t doing ourselves justice. No one is in the squad “by accident” this year, and we no longer have non-footballers making up the numbers. Everyone is involved because I rate you and because you have earned a spot. This means that I expect more of us, and if I moan its because I know how good we can be.
The Unicorn were a likeable bunch, and were gracious afterwards despite the fact that they probably deserved all 3 points. I’d be very surprised if they don’t climb the table and finish in one of the top 3 spots. If we cut out some of the basic errors and learn to concentrate fully for 90 minutes rather than in patches, we’ll be up there with them…..