U10 friendly v Flackwell Heath

14/01/2013 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Match Reports, Under 10s | Leave a comment

On a freezing Sunday morning we took a squad of 11 players, a mixture of Red A, Red B and Yellow team players to Flackwell Heath for a friendly fixture to start the second half of our season.

Match 1:

We agreed to play 3 matches of 20-25 minutes, two 7-a-side matches and one 9-a-side match. Given the cold weather, rolling subs were the order of the day as with 11 players we didn’t want any players spending too long on the sidelines.

The first match started with Flackwell playing their trademark passing game, excellent first touch and control complemented by good movement off the ball and we struggled to get much of the ball in the first 10 minutes. Indeed, almost the whole of the first 10 minutes seemed to be spent in our penalty box but a combination of good goalkeeping from Rishi and defensive efforts from Charles, Akshay, Milan and Kian in particular prevented more than one goal being scored. Gradually we worked our way back into the game but conceded a second goal before Sachin made a strong run through the middle of the Flackwell defence and drilled a low shot into the goal. For the last few minutes of the game we had 2 or 3 half chances to score, but couldn’t quite manage an equaliser.

Overall, the first game was a bit of a game of two halves; for the first 15 minutes we struggled to keep the ball and had to defend resolutely. We competed much better for the final 10 minutes, deserved our goal and could have come away with a draw but on balance Flackwell were well worth their 2-1 win.

Match 2:

The second game started where the first game had finished; end to end football with Flackwell showing a bit more patience and passing the ball better while we showed a bit more defensive organisation and urgency in moving the ball forward. We took the lead about half way through the match; Will stabbed the ball home after a goal mouth scramble; their keeper was very unlucky having made two excellent blocks, Will was just more determined than their defenders to get to the loose ball. The second half of the match had plenty of chances, with Luke probing down the left, Sachin starting to dominate the midfield defensively and our defenders (Archie, Milan, Kian, Akshay, Robert O & Charles) were all outstanding while Rishi was as solid as a rock in goal. He was confident coming out to meet the ball, his handling was good and most importantly, given our ability at times to give away soft goals through poor decision making at the back, his distribution was very good. We held out for the 1-0 win; a much improved performance overall from the first game.

Match 3: 9-a-side

Part of the logic of this friendly was to give the players a first taste of the 9-a-side football they will play next season so we moved over to Flackwell’s big pitch for the third game and had a 20 minute 9-a-side match. I thought the bigger playing area might suit Flackwell more than us but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Flackwell play a fluid passing game, requiring a good first touch and more measured build up. Our game is more dynamic, relying more on pace and good defence and the bigger pitch certainly gave us the opportunity to play our own game. The game was end to end and Flackwell certainly had chances to score but our defensive line was excellent, showing great discipline and intelligence. Several speedy breakaways down the left by Sachin and Luke, produced corners delivered expertly by Luke into the box but we couldn’t quite get a finish despite the best efforts of Archie especially to get on the end of them. Flackwell had several chances, more from open play, but again our defence and midfield were their equal and Rishi’s handling stayed solid throughout. After 15 minutes we built another attacking break and Will burst through the Flackwell back line. Just as he entered the box, a Flackwell defender made his tackle but caught Will before the ball from behind; penalty. Will stepped up and duly despatched the ball into the net; 1-0. The game carried on in the same vein and we agreed to extend the game to 25 minutes. The last 5 minutes saw chances at both ends before, with seconds remaining, Will again beat the last defender and was brought down in the box. Penalty? Alas, the tackle happened just after time was up according to our referee!

This was a very useful friendly against very strong opposition and we improved as the matches went on. I believe we were a little fearful of the opposition in the first game but once we realised that we could hold our own against them, we grew in confidence and consequently played better football. Overall, Flackwell played neater more controlled football but we were better organised defensively and showed more pace going forward. In the 9-a-side format, we showed real pace and energy going forward and equal determination getting back to defend. The other major factor was that Flackwell were managing a squad of 15 against our 11 and the regular substitutions did disjoint their play a little.

There were excellent games from all the players. Rishi was excellent in goal, Sachin equally good leading the attack, breaking up play in midfield and bursting forward when required. Luke’s set piece delivery and eye for a pass stood out while Charles is really growing into an all round player, comfortable in defence or midfield, and starting to become a real leader on the pitch. Archie, Aakash and Will, after slow starts in the first game, grew in stature as the games went on, especially effective going forward while also working hard tackling back and breaking up their attacks. Our main defenders were Akshay, Kian and Milan, although they all had spells in midfield or up front, and they dealt really well with all that Flackwell threw at them, judging when to tackle and when to close down very well. Robert O worked hard in midfield and didn’t look out of place even though he has played all his football so far this season in the Yellow division.

Well done to all the players and coaches Adam and Paul who ran the games from the side, constantly supporting and encouraging the players on the pitch and making sure that the players on the sideline did not stay there too long in the freezing cold.

Ian

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