An early start for this top of the table clash. A tight narrow pitch, would make it difficult for the away side, who generally like to play with a lot of width.
Whirlwinds had the advantage of the slope in the first half and made use of it in the opening exchanges, the home side set out their pattern of play, lots of long balls in to the channels, which were being easily dealt with by Jack C & Thomas at the back. Oliver broke free down the right but a home defender just got a toe to the ball before he could unleash his shot. Whirlwinds were finding it difficult to spring the off side trap, with a couple of marginal decisions going in favour of the home side, finally Ajiri sprang the trap a great through ball by Sam saw him clear of the defence, we are used to seeing him bury this kind of chance, but he seemed to delay which allowed the covering defender again just to nick it off his toe, bizarrely the Referee ruled a goal kick, one of a number of odd decisions in the game. The home side again pursued the long ball in the channel tactic, and were starting to have a little bit of success, a couple of dangerous corners were blocked with some last ditch defending, a fairly lucky escape from one corner when a stabbed shot came back off the post. At the other end Ajiri, was brought down just outside the box and Sam sent the free kick just over the bar with the keeper a bystander.
Half time team talk, just reiterated what we spoke at the beginning of the game, it was a small narrow pitch and we needed to counter this by moving the ball quicker, 1-2 touch football was going to give us the most success. We also needed to get our shots off earlier as we had in the main controlled the first half, but had not tested the keeper enough, we felt on the balance of play we should have been a couple of goals up. We also needed to be more aggressive with the second balls, we were dealing fairly well with the long balls in the channel, but weren’t contesting the second ball well enough.
The second half kicked off and the home side with the slight wind and slope in their favour, pushing on a great deal more than the first half. Again the tactic was long balls in to the channels, and then try and feed off the second balls, it was this area they were getting the most success, as the away side struggled to contest them. A couple of early corners were just about scrambled clear, the away side now carrying little attacking threat, and unusually the passing which in general is good quality and sharp, was lack lustre and lethargic. The home side were pressing but apart from looking at little uncomfortable at corners, Whirlwinds were defending quite well and Nathan in goal was rarely troubled, with any thing other than routine collections from over hit long balls. However pressure was building, the inability to keep the ball to take the pressure off was at the heart of the away sides problems. A corner from the left sailed over everyone’s heads and out, the linesman flagged for a goal kick, but oddly the Referee said it got a touch from a home defender and pointed to a corner from the other side. This corner was fed in, the away side missed a couple of opportunities to clear and a scramble at the back post saw the ball pop up and go in off the post 1-0. It was coming, and really came sown to away sides failure to keep the ball under pressure, the home side were hungrier and more aggressive and got their rewards. A second goal soon followed, the ball was given away in midfield by the away side, and then in their efforts to make up for the error, a desperate lunge in the box and a penalty, which was comfortably converted 2-0. It was going to be tough to come back from this, Whirlwinds went to 1 at the back and pushed on an extra attacker, it was a good response, and did take the game to the home side in the final ten minutes, however they were restricted to a couple of long range efforts, which the home keeper dealt with well.
Summary : It was a fairly good first half performance, however we needed to make our dominance of the first 10-15 minutes count and score, we knew we weren’t going to have it all our own way today, and we needed to take advantage of this opening spell. Second half was a little disappointing, the home side closed us down very well, but we made it easier for them by not moving the ball quickly enough, also they were more aggressive and hungrier than us, particularly contesting the second balls, and it was this was an area I felt we lost control and ultimately lost us the game. However we have have a chance to put it right in the home game, the boys knew they didn’t perform today, and I am sure we will learn a lot from this game.
M.O.T.M : It was strange day, as players several players had fairly good spells in the game, but then had quiet spells, a few had a bit off an off day and were under their normal performance levels. Jack & Thomas in the first half looked really in control, they in the main did just enough in the second half coming under a lot of pressure. I think Jack M contested well when back in to midfield and at showed good composure on the ball, so he gets the award this week.