It was a freezing cold wintry morning, for a trip to the current league champions.
Whirlwinds depleted by injury, illness and absence, just about scratching an eleven together and Sam showing a captain’s leadership by volunteering to go in goal.
Back’s to the wall would be the order of the day, instructions were to stay compact deny space and limit the opposition, and definitely no long range shots, as our ‘keeper wasn’t going to get to anything close to the crossbar. Whirlwinds started quite well, they were very organised and proving very tough to break down. The home team admittedly enjoying 80% of the possession but struggling to get through the wall of claret & blue. Whirlwinds gave the ball away too cheaply in midfield, and for once the away midfield got caught the wrong side of the ball, Allstars seized the opportunity with a two man overload, drawing the defence out, and finding space behind, exploited with a slide rule pass and neat finish 1-0. It didn’t change the philosophy stay compact, wait for the right opportunity to pounce on the loose ball and hit on the counter attack.
The home team couldn’t find a way through, a couple of foray’s down the right and good crosses in to the box the only real threat to Sam in goal, who seemed comfortable enough with his handling. Allstars were getting more and more frustrated, trying to play out from the back and draw Whirlwinds on, they presented a great opportunity to equalise twice to Ellis, but he couldn’t take advantage of a mis-placed pass from the home ‘keeper. Approaching half time it looked like just a single goal would divide the teams, however the ball broke behind the Whirlwinds midfield, picked up by the Allstars striker he shaped to shoot, no defender closed the space, instead they backed off and allowed the striker to shoot, his looping shot central and probably catching practice for our usual ‘keeper was just to high for Sam and it sailed in the net 2-0.
Despite the score we were quite pleased, two mistakes had gifted the goals, but apart from that they couldn’t break us down, and they had given us a couple of half chances to score. Same mentality for the second half, but we needed to cut out the individual mistakes.
Second half kicked off, much to the same pattern of the first, a compact rear guard action and the home team struggling to break it down, the one time they broke free Sam was quickly off his line to close the shot down to pull off a great save. It was dig in, backs to the wall stuff, Ibu working his socks off up front chasing lost causes, putting pressure on defenders, Billy biting in to tackles in midfield and driving forward whenever possible. For twenty minutes they held firm, gave as good as they got, but once again individual mistakes cost them, a nothing of a cross floated in the box, under no pressure the first defender allowed the ball to bounce and go past him, the second defender took a golf style swipe at the ball and missed completely and the ball rolled in to the corner of the net, despite Sam’s despairing dive 3-0. It was blow to the heart of the rest of the team who had worked so hard, to concede that type of goal.
Allstar’s were encouraged by the goal, they quickly added a fourth, a long range shot deflected off Billy’s back side, Sam looked like he had it covered but dived over the ball and it rolled in to the net 4-0. The Whirlwinds midfield was tiring they had worked their socks off, however Jake and Billy showed great tenacity to close and rob an Allstar’s defender from a pass from the ‘keeper, again the goal gaped but Billy skewed his shot wide. Some great defending with sliding tackles, blocks on shots, showed the away side hadn’t given up and were determined to try and keep their opponents out, however a tiring midfield were too slow to react to a defensive clearance, the ball was picked up by a hungrier Allstar’s midfielder and he smashed the ball past a helpless Sam in goal 5-0. The hard work of the away side was not reflected in the scoreline, just individual mistakes were punished, as they will be by the top teams in the league.
P.O.T.M: Sam – took one for the team and volunteered to go in goal, did superbly well with a couple of fantastic saves.