1. Cameron (GK), 2. Sam.D., 3. Billy , 4. Oakley, 5. Jack D 6. Jack C, 7. Sam.A. , 8. Jack M , 9. Ajiri, 10. Mitchel – Capt, 12. Oliver
An early morning trip up the M1 to Northampton, felt like a ‘proper’ away fixture against a team and club we have never come up against in a full size game (I think we met them in Tournament a few years back). It was shall we say a bit of a bumpy pitch, combined with a gusting wind, Whirlwinds it looked would have a stiff test to play their regular passing style.
The game started a pace, most players looked to be having a little difficulty in judging the length of their pass, Whirlwinds with the wind in their faces were at a distinct disadvantage. After a few minutes of ‘ping pong’ football, the away team started to gain control of possession and push the opposition back, a swift move down the left with Ajiri and Sam.A heavily involved, released Jack M clear on goal, he rounded the keeper, but his low shot lacked a little bit of power, and was cleared off the line by a covering defender. Spurred on by this early opportunity, Whirlwinds forced the home team in to some last ditch defending, as they struggled to keep a clean sheet in tact, a scramble in the box saw one shot legitimately blocked, the second follow up was blocked with an outstretched arm and the referee awarded a penalty. Our penalty record this season can only be described as abysmal, Mitchel the captain has for several weeks begged to take a penalty, so today he stepped up. He placed the ball and made his run up, but was stopped by the referee, so turned back and started again, his shot was well struck, but at a nice height and close enough to the ‘keeper for him to make a comfortable enough save, the search for a regular penalty taker goes on ! This gave the home side a lift, and they started to take a little more advantage of the conditions, some long goal kicks and clearances from their own half tested the Whirlwinds down both flanks, they were in the most kept at bay, but a few corners caused some pressure, shooting was kept at pretty much long range, in those conditions could have been a real threat, but Cameron dealt with everything fairly comfortably, Whirlwinds threatened on the counter and carved out a couple really good opportunities, but a couple of good saves and goal line clearances kept the home team in the game, half time approached and it looked like a goalless first half, but the classic sucker punch, Whirlwinds lost the ball in a comfortable central position which left the defence for once exposed, a ball out wide wasn’t quickly pressed which allowed a low cross to be swept home 1-0. Whirlwinds responded well but couldn’t quite turn possession in to a clear cut chance.
Half time team talk was very positive, again we were ruing missed opportunities, but in general we had defended well and should be clearly ahead. 2nd half the conditions we in our favour and we should use this to put some pressure on the opposition early on.
The 2nd half kicked off with the away side in the ascendancy, however they struggled even more with the conditions, and the final ball was often over hit, and ran through to the goalkeeper. The times they did get it right, and broke through the defensive line, was being met with a flag by an over zealous linesman. Who’m I don’t think knew the rules, as 3 or 4 times the player receiving the ball wasn’t in an offside position, but the flag was waved for player in an offside position, who wasn’t interfering with play, a difficult call to make, but some were so clear that his lack of knowledge of the rules, could be the only reason to explain the decisions. Whirlwinds, understandbly, were getting frustrated, and this echoed in their play, ball retention wasn’t great, which allowed the opposition the occasional foray, however they never really threatened to add to their lead. With less than a quarter of the game left, Sam.A picked the ball up on the left touchline, he turned inside, skipped passed a challenge then held another off, a full 20 metres out, unleashed a looping shot that sailed over the goalkeeper and in, a quality strike and a richly deserved equaliser 1-1. The goal sent confidence swirling around the away side, another great move down the right led to Jack M. picking up the ball in the box, side stepping the keeper, but his shot hit the side netting with the goal at his mercy. The resulting goal kick was intercepted by Sam.A, running threateningly at goal, he was scythed down by a desperate defender. He picked himself of and again over 20 metres out from goal in a position just right of centre, a Beckamesque curling free kick swept passed the wall, the ‘Keeper just stood and watched in nestle in the top corner, if his first goal was a great strike, this one was even better, 1-2. Whirlwinds were now in full stride and were determined to finish the game off. To be fair the home team dug-in and tried to battle, but couldn’t get out of their half, pressed back and struggling against a gusting wind, they were finding the 2nd half much tougher than the 1st. Again a surge down the right saw a chipped pass turn the home defence Sam.A burst through, a touch to bring the ball under control, and a half volley flew past the keeper 1-3, and a fantastic way to grab his hatrick. With the result now not in doubt Whirlwinds relaxed, and comfortably saw the game out, to record a confidence boosting victory.
Goals Sam A. (3)
Summary – Tough conditions, but the effort and commitment to not concede goals in the first half, built the platform for the second, with a bit better finishing the game would have been put to bed much earlier. Delighted to see the work we have doing in training, is transferring to the pitch, however we are still switching off at times in games, so concentration levels need to improve a little. Really well done, and gives us a lift coming in to a tough run of league fixtures after the Easter break.
M.O.M – There can only be one winner – Sam.A, I don’t think you will see a better hatrick at any level of the game, three quality strikes and also his work rate, and positional understanding were faultless. Special mention to Oliver who has really taken onboard the defensive elements of the game and worked really hard for the team.