Spring had finally sprung, it was glorious morning with the freshly cut Ampthill pitches, bathed in early morning sunshine.
Whirlwinds, confidence restored with a friendly win the previous week, with a steely determination added to the team after the home humbling at the hands of today’s opponents. It was Ampthill who edged the opening stages of the game, not really creating anything chances, but they had the major share of possession. It took a while for the away side to get going, some early seeds of success were sown, with Oliver fed by Jake flying down the right flank to put a ball across the box, which just evaded the oncoming Ajiri. It bought a breath of life in to the away side, and they stepped up a gear, Brandon, Billy & Oakley now enjoying lots of possession in midfield, first to every ball and were pushing the whole team up the pitch. Sam fed Ajiri down the left, he pushed inside and squared to Oliver who squeezed the ball in at the far post 0-1. It was all the home side, again Oliver raced down the right and played inside to Ajiri, who delayed his shot and got the ball nicked off his toes as he was about to release. Ajiri was in the thick of the action, this time played straight through by Billy, raced clear of the defence, just as he was about to to slot past the ‘keeper, he received a push in the back and a clip of the heels, which sent him tumbling, as clear a penalty as you will see, but the referee, who to be fair had a dreadful game, waved play on.
Oliver was proving a real threat down the right, he wriggled away from two defenders in the corner, ran inside and played in to Ajiri, who’s shot was blocked, the ball bounced clear to edge of the box, to met by Billy who unleashed a thunderous shot in to the bottom left corner 0-2.
The away team were in complete control, passing the ball around the pitch with confidence and thundering in to challenges, Billy seemed to win everything in midfield, ably supported by the craft and creativity of Oakley & Brandon. Sam fed Ajiri down the left, he took it forward and looked up to spot Oliver’s back post run, he curled in a lovely shaped cross, which just evaded Oliver’s run. Attacking both flanks was causing havoc for the home side, who just couldn’t cope with the pace and movement, Brandon pulling the strings in midfield, combined with Sam for the latter to break clear of the defence, he drove in the box, and as he turned inside his legs were taken away by a recovering defender, the Referee took a moment and pointed to the spot, a conversation between Sam and Brandon saw the latter step up, he smoothly side footed the ball in to the right hand corner 0-3. The away side continued to press home their dominance but couldn’t quite add to their tally before half time.
It was as good a first half as we have put together this season, however, with the wind behind them in the second half, we knew we would face an aerial bombardment, we needed to better in the second half than we were in the first to see the game through.
Second half kicked off and straight away the tactic was obvious, launch the ball in to box at the earliest opportunity and hope for a mistake. The away defence stood firm for the first five minutes and thought perhaps they had weathered the storm, however they gave a free-kick away around 30 yards from goal, Ampthill player stepped up and hit high in to the air, the ball caught the wind and Nathan too far off his line, and sailed over his head and in to the net 1-3. The goal just reinforced the second half tactic of the home side, at every opportunity the ball was launched in to the box from every area of the pitch. They were mostly well dealt with the by the away side, and Ampthill really lacked any quality upfront to create anything, they were just relying on defensive errors. However it was at the other end that the best chances were coming, twice Sam was played through and with the ‘keeper advancing all it it needed was a little dink over the top, which we all know Sam has in his locker, but he took an extra touch and got squeezed out. Ajiri fired in to the side netting, Oliver glanced a header just over the bar from a corner. They finally increased their lead, Sam showed superb feet, turning four defenders who had surrounded him in the box inside and out, finally patience snapped and a swipe at his legs took them from under him, and the Referee had no choice but to once again point to the spot. This time Ajiri grabbed the ball, no debate, he stepped up and rifled it home 1-4.
The goal should have settled the away side, but they gave another free kick away around forty metres from goal, again the ball was launched high in to the box, it bounced and should have been comfortable enough catch for Nathan, but perhaps unsure of the bounce, he palmed it upwards and then failed to collect the ball, it was stabbed home by an Ampthill attacker, who looked a long way offside when the free kick came in, the flag stayed down and the goal was allowed 2-4. Oliver had a great chance to settle the nerves, some neat play by Sam and Ajiri down the left, and squared a pass to him, a little flick and turn and he was in on goal, 6 yards out a simple finish, but he just poked it wide. The away side should have really been out of sight, however they made life extremely difficult for themselves, again another high ball, which came down, hit a lump in the pitch and bounced over Thomas, still Jack C came round on the cover, but a moment of indecision and the striker nipped in front him and tapped past Nathan and in 3-4. It would have been a travesty if the home team got anything out of the game. The away just needed to get hold of the ball, not give any free kicks away, slow the game down and see it through to full time, all of which they did without any further threat to their goal.
Scorers: Oliver,Billy, Brandon(P), Ajiri (P)
Summary: First half it was our best performance for a long time, we looked back to our best, and a complete contrast to the team we had seen just two weeks previously. Second half we didn’t respond well enough to the oppositions long ball tactics, and to compound, didn’t make enough of our own chances and made life extremely difficult for ourselves. We must react better when the opposition reverts to hoofing long balls. But all in all we are still on an upward curve and very happy with the way we played, and our effort and determination was spot on, just need to try and cut out the small individual defensive errors.
There were some very good performances today, Oliver looked back to his best, Ajiri had is best game for a long time, Sam was busy and creative, Jake continues to make great progress, Oakley and Brandon both had fantastic first halves. This week’s award goes to Billy, who was a wall in midfield and scored a cracker of a goal.