An away friendly and our first taste of 11 a-side football. We opted for a 3-5-2 formation as we felt it would be easier for us to adapt to from our 9 a side formation.
The 1st half kicked off with the home side on top, Whirlwinds were playing up the slope and with the wind directly in their faces were at distinct disadvantage. Watling were taking advantage of the conditions and piling on the pressure. A series of corners weren’t properly dealt with by the away side, poor clearances putting the goal under threat. Whirlwinds were wide open in the centre of midfield and the home side were picking holes through them, a couple of half chances were put wide and Nathan pulled of a couple of routine saves. Whirlwinds were having the occasional counter attack and were lively enough to have the home defence make some edgy clearances. However Watling were forcing the game and soon made their advantage tell, again the ball was fed through the wide open midfield, and then neatly in behind the defence and despatched in to the corner of the net, leaving Nathan no chance 1-0. Whirlwinds made an immediate response with Ajiri bursting through and under pressure just skewing his shot wide. Down the other end a bit of a let off, with the striker blasting wide when he probably should have scored. Whirlwinds were definitely now making more a game of it, Sam clean through with only the keeper to beat usually so clinical, his tame shot went straight at the keeper. Watling forced another series of corners, none were particularly well dealt with by the away side, but they just about got away with some below standard defending, half time came with just the 1 goal scored in the half.
Half time team talk concentrated on shoring up the porous midfield 3, getting a better shape so they could shield the defence better, also the wing backs needed to get wider and stretch the play.
The 2nd half kicked off and it was a complete turnaround, the away side with slope and wind in their favour were now dominant, the first 10 minutes were just about all spent in the opposition half, finally the breakthrough game, Sam fed Ajiri on the left hand side of the box he held off the covering defender and rifled across the keeper in to the far corner 1-1. Watling responded with a couple of forays forward, but the home defence and midfield looked much more assured and were much more in control, just a couple of long range shots which Nathan dealt with comfortably his handling looking very assured. Oliver played a long diagonal pass which Ajiri latched on to played a lobbed pass over the top of the home defence, Jack M moved sharply on to it, a neat first touch to bring the ball under control and with his second touch fired the ball in the top corner 1-2. The away side were now well on top, a challenge on the home keeper saw him limp off to be replaced, the resulting corner was half cleared and Jack C took a looping half volley which seemed destined for the top corner, only to see the replacement keeper’s first touch to paw it over the bar. Watling responded well, a break down the right and cross found the striker in the box, he spun towards goal, but off balance, he ballooned his shot over, a bit of a let off. Soon they were made to pay, again a scooped pass over the top of the defence, Sam clearly offside but walking back held his hands up to intimate he wasn’t interfering with play, which was well spotted by the linesman, the ball took one bounce and Jack M despatch an audacious lob over the keeper and in 1-3, a great finish. Only a few minutes remained and the third goal killed the home side’s resilience off. The game finished with the away side pushing for a fourth.
Scorers : Ajiri, Jack M (2)
Summary : We struggled a little in the first half, the wind and sloping pitch making it difficult, not having played for a couple of months we looked a little rusty defensively. However we were resilient enough to keep ourselves in the game and offered a threat going forward. Second half was much better, we got to grips with the formation and really dominated the second half. A really good introduction to 11 a-side football, and a good result against a mid table Division 1 team.
M.O.T.M : Lots of good performances, Jake worked really hard and looked lively going forward, Ajiri was always a threat scoring 1 and getting an assist, Thomas particularly in the 2nd half looked at his calm and assured best. Dylan made his debut, Jack M – to fine finishes, was just pipped for the award by Jack D, who competed really well throughout and was a great source of vocal encouragement to his team mates.