U10 Red; Sunday 18th November; v Penn & Tylers Green

22/11/2012 at 11:33 pm | Posted in Match Reports, Under 10s | Leave a comment

We stepped out against Penn & Tylers Green (P&TG) on a lovely cold Sunday morning for our first home fixture since mid October. The pitches were in good condition and we were looking forward to the challenge of a strong P&TG sqaud who had drawn with Downley, certainly one of the two strongest sides in the top division, winning two matches the previous week.

Red A:

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Red B:

Squad: Chris M, Milan, Akshay, Sam, Archie, Aakash, Luke, Joe

We were missing Kian, helping out the A squad who had three players unavailable, and Joss from our squad but that allowed us to play the same 8 players as last week’s matches with Wendover.

Match 1 – bottom pitch

Matches on this pitch are usually “games of two halves” and this was no different. Aakash was first sub and it was Archie’s turn to have a game as the main forward. Milan and Akshay continued their ever improving defensive partnership, with Sam charged with covering the centre of midfield. Luke and Joe were the other midfielders. We started very brightly, playing down the slope, playing flowing football going forward. Archie had been really unlucky last week not to score, hitting post, bar, defenders and goalkeeper and there was a feeling that today was going to be his day. After 5 minutes, Luke played an exquisite through ball from the left, dissecting the P&TG defence, and Archie burst between their defenders and shot low into the net, 1-0. We kept up the good football but P&TG did have their chances to equalise and Chris had to be sharp in goal to keep out a couple of half chances. Before half time we won a few corners and from one, Luke delivered the ball into the box and Archie proved that you don’t have to be the tallest to win the ball in the air; he met the corner with a firm header into the top corner, 2-0. We kept things reasonably tight until half time although Chris had to make one fantastic save, just getting to the ball at full stretch with his left foot to turn the ball round the far post.

Joe gave way to Aakash for the second half. P&TG came out for the second half fired up by their coach and were soon putting us under severe pressure. They were winning most of the ball in midfield; suddenly our players looked tired and listless and seemed happy to wait for colleagues to put in the hard work required when the opposition have a majority of the possession. Penn duly scored as we dithered defensively, the ball forced over the line after yet another goalmouth scramble. Soon after P&TG scored a deserved equaliser; they have several big players and they were more hungry for the ball, putting in robust challenges and forcing us off the ball too easily. The pressure was all on us and from one corner, the ball again pinged around our goal area and it seemed like a Penn player must get on the end of it to put them 3-2 up but Chris somehow got down and held the ball at the toe of the Penn player; very good and very brave goalkeeping. This proved to be the turning point. With 5 minutes left, Luke took a long goal kick, which cleared the P&TG midfield. Archie darted through from left midfield, beat his defender, looked to have taken the ball too far but from the narrowest of angles he lashed the ball into the far corner, 3-2. The game was really open now and chances came and went, mainly for P&TG, but we held out for the win. Penn were probably a little unlucky on balance, as although we outplayed them in the first half they deserve great credit for their second half fightback.

Match 2 – top pitch

If we thought the first P&TG team were big and physical, we hadn’t anticipated that their other team were even bigger and even more physical.; exactly the sort of team we normally struggle against. However, we were confident after our first match win, that we could play good football around the Penn giants. From the off though we again looked tired and were not competing for the ball. Their forward was the smallest player in their side but he was very effective, keeping the ball well and he was rewarded midway through the half with a goal. Now was the time for us to stand up and be counted but with the notable exception of Aakash, we were still off the pace and were missing Archie who was taking his turn on the sidelines. Milan and Akshay battled bravely but were getting little protection from the midfield who, too often were very keen to get forward but were too slow to recover defensively. However, it was a simple set piece which gifted P&TG their second goal. Our marking was good before the corner was taken, but despite clear instructions from the sidelines, we allowed their biggest player to move 2-3 yards away from our player for the simplest of headers, 0-2.

The second half we improved, with more effort all over the pitch and when Archie scored his fourth of the day we had some hope of recovering the deficit but Penn had other ideas. The goal itself was probably the goal of the day as we passed the ball out of defence to Luke on the left whose cross field pass found Chris, by now taking a break from goalkeeping duties, who beat the defender to the ball to cross low to the far post where Archie threw himself at the ball and crashed it into the net. Their main tactic was lifting long throws, corners or free kicks into our box, putting the keeper under pressure and it was from a long free kick given on the halfway line (for a tackle by Archie on their giant which was comical in itself) that P&TG put the ga, ebeyond us. With the sun in his eyes, Sam in goal couldn’t keep the ball out from the long hoof from the half way line; 1-3. We still had a couple of half chances to get back into the game but couldn’t take them.

Unfortunately the boys are not getting the reward of results for their good attacking performances but we are being punished for poor defending as a team. This is certainly not a criticism of those who played in defence; Joe was solid in the second game while Milan and Akshay didn’t let anyone down but we haven’t grasped yet that we need 5 players to defend when we are being attacked. At times today we looked tired and jaded with too many players struggling to keep up with the game.

Overall, well done to the boys against a good side. With more defensive application from all the players and a bit more luck in front of goal we will be able to turn draws or narrow defeats into a few more wins.

Ian

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