Squad : 1. Cameron 3. Billy 4. Oakley 5. Jack D 6. Jack C (Capt) 7. Sam.A. 8. Jack M 9. Ajiri , 10. Mitchel 11. Joe, 14. Jake
Today we welcomed Gt Horwood for a friendly at Crawley Road. Thank fully the early morning rain subsided and the game started under clear blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures.
Whirlwinds started with an experimental line up, players playing in different positions. Being a friendly it was important to try a few things out. Gt Horwood got the game off to a lively start by coming at the Whirlwinds straight from the kick off, Whirlwinds looked a little unsettled and conceded an early goal by giving the oppositions forward far to much room to turn and shoot 0-1. Whirlwinds settled a little and had a spell of attacking, but fell further behind as a corner was only half cleared that lead to a rash challenge in the penalty area, there could be no argument when the referee pointed to the spot, a well struck penalty left Cameron with no chance 0-2. Whirlwinds reacted well, and again pressed the opposition, but were still giving the midfield and the forward of the opposition too much time, which made them look vulnerable at the back. An instinctive turn and and shot by Jack M forced a smart save from the oppositions goalkeeper, pushing the ball wide in to the path of the onrushing Oakley who tucked home from a tight angle 1-2. Whirlwinds had a foothold in the game, and started to play some football and looked dangerous looking for an equaliser. Again a failure to clear a corner lead to a third from the opposition stabbed home from close range 1-3. Whirlwinds kept going but couldn’t get hold of the ball in midfield, and were still offering the opposition to much room in midfield and upfront. As a result conceded a free kick on the right, when the dangerous frontman was hauled down after breaking free of the defensive line, he picked himself up to smash the resulting free kick past Cameron, via a wicked deflection. It felt like it wasn’t going to be our day.
Half time team talk was tough, there were some positives and the team knew they could do much better. Second half saw the movement back to more familiar positions and Whirlwinds started positively looking more assured in possession and causing the opposition lots of problems, Sam A, Ajiri and Jack M going very close to reducing the deficit, Mitchel sending a towering header off the bar from a well delivered corner. Alas the opposition increased their lead, midfielder allowed to much time, but to be fair it was a great strike that flew past Cameron 1-5. Whirlwinds kept going and Ajiri in particular had 3 or 4 chances to score, on another day he would have had 5 or 6 but today saw is efforts go inches wide or well saved by the opposition keeper. Sam A started to sparkle in midfield and lots of half chances were created, but the ball just wouldn’t seem to drop in the danger areas. Horwood still looked a threat going forward but in the main the defence was tighter than the first half. A relapse saw an opposition player rob the ball off a Whirlwind player on the right and drift past several static defenders before firing off a shot that took another deflection and looped in 1- 6. Whirlwinds picked themselves up and dusted themselves down and went again and Ajiri was finally rewarded when his powerful strike was too hot to handle for the opposition keeper and it trickled over the line 2 -6. Again Whirlwinds kept pressing but the opposition held resolute, Whirlwinds in general were on top in midfield but lost their way and allowed an opposition midfielder to break through, with a clean run at the defence they backed off and he rounded easily to fire home, a great individual goal, but a poor goal for the Whirlwinds to concede 2-7. The final minutes passed with little created and the final whistle Whirlwinds weren’t too despondent as they knew it was a day for experiments.
Scorers – Oakley, Ajiri
MOM – Oakley, took his goal really well and did a really good job in the second half containing the oppositions most dangerous player.
Summary : We used this friendly to try a few things out, some worked, some didn’t, with a larger squad now it’s important for players to be flexible and several gained invaluable experience playing in different positions. Also important to get more pitch time in to the newer players in the squad. Special mention to Jake, making his debut, struggled a little in the first half but made really good progress in the 2nd half. This game was very similar to a league game we played against the same opposition last season, where we somehow lost 6-1, on that day everything they hit seemed to go in and we didn’t get the run of the ball at the other end, we played some really good football at times and didn’t perhaps get the reward that play deserved, this game was much the same. We do however need to be a little more aggressive in protecting our goal, too many goals are being conceded through the centre of the pitch when we have plenty of bodies around to cover.