Top of the table clash, final game for the home side who needed a win to secure the league title, Hurricanes with a game in hand knew a win would also give them a league title, however a draw would give them the opportunity to win their final game to finish top of the table. A warm sunny afternoon, it was all set up………
Totternhoe got the game underway, immediately early nerves were evident, with the home defender taking a nervy swipe at the ball sending it skewing out of play. Hurricanes sensed the home side’s nerves and pressed in numbers, the first few minutes it was the away side who were running the game. Totternhoe’s tactics were clear, pack the midfield and launch long balls up to their striker. Hurricanes defence were in no mood to give him an inch, every time the ball was launched forward they were first too it, snuffing out any danger.
At the other end our 50 goal striker was having a frustrating time, again the home defence not giving an inch and deploying three defenders on him every time he received the ball. They were however getting in some good positions in the box, but too often their final ball let them down. Alex sent two delightful free kicks curling in to great areas, but some desperate defending denied any goal scoring opportunity.It was a tight game, Hurricanes the better side, but with both defences on top, chances were few and far between. Half an hour gone, Louie, Ethan and Benji combined with the latter wriggling free in the box, he was then upended by a lunging tackle, it looked a clear penalty, all eyes turned to the Referee but he waved play on, the look on Totternhoe’s defenders faces, told all you needed to know, that they had got away with that one. It was a first half lesson in defending with neither team managing to register a shot on target.
Half time team walk, was fairly positive, we had looked the better side, completely nullified any opposition attacking threat, but we need to add a bit more quality to our build up play, and be more incisive in the last third of the pitch.
Hurricanes kicked off the second half, the game followed much the same pattern of the first, passes going astray from both sides, benefiting of a little wind a slight slope of the pitch, the home team tested the Hurricanes defence early on, with some high balls, twice the Hurricanes defence allowed the ball to bounce, which gave their striker a sniff of a breakthrough, but it was quickly snuffed out by a covering full back. Instructions from the side line not to allow the ball to bounce were adhered too, and the next couple of long balls were met with defensive headers. It allowed the Hurricanes to get back on top, Luca sending a curling shot inches wide, it took a slight nick off a defender which was key to it not nestling in to the bottom corner. The game was starting to open, up, Benji and Joe played a quick combination down the left, Joe played in to Louie, who’s skewed an attempted half volley, the ball broke to Ethan, 4 yards out back post, goal gaping, he shot, it hit the inside of the post, rolled across the goal line hit the other post and and span out for a goal kick! Heads were in hands, in disbelief as to how it never went in.
Hurricanes were now sensing a goal was coming, tiring legs in midfield were giving them more space, a hack from the opposition at Benji resulted in a yellow card. In the next action Benji was upended 25 yards out, he had been given some ‘special attention’ in the game, which perhaps the Referee could have stamped out earlier in the game. Benji took the resulting free-kick, which was palmed away by the ‘keeper. Another penalty claim was denied as Louie nudged a header to break free from his marker and in on goal, only to be flattened by a push in the back, again another clear enough penalty that wasn’t given. The home side offered little threat now going forward, they just couldn’t find any way through or round the away defence. Alex took a throw level with edge of the box, it came back to him, closely attended by two defenders, with a bit of skill he wriggled free, breaking in the the box, he drew two defenders too him, and slid a low ball to Louie, who had lost his marker and from eight yards he side footed in to the roof of the net 0-1.
Just seven minutes remained, and it was time to stand firm. Totternhoe, were like a wounded animal, they came out fighting, and found some energy to launch a couple of attacks, again the home defence stood firm. With just four minutes left they went down the right, again plenty of defensive cover, the ball broke back to the left winger, who from the edge of the box, he crossed in to the box, completely over hit, it curled in to the top corner of the net 1-1. It was a bit of luck and their first ‘shot’ of the game, wasn’t really fair on the away side who had been the better team in both halves. Just a few minutes left it was the Hurricanes who went out to win the game, Alex swung the ball in, the ‘keeper who hadn’t been tested enough flapped at the ball, Joe and Louie both closed in, but couldn’t quite get a touch as the ‘keeper lunged and fell on the ball. Finally the Referee blew the final whistle, much to the relief I think to the away supporters!
Summary: It was a nervy affair, we didn’t pass the ball well enough or quick enough throughout the game, understandably nerves played a part. However we worked incredibly hard as a team, the defence in particular were all outstanding, a shame we couldn’t put it to bed today, however we got the result we needed.
M.O.T.M: As a tough a decision as there has been all season, usually we are purring about the quality of our attacking players with midfielders and forwards topping the list. However today was all about the strength of our back line, Aaron, Jack E, Kian & Keiron, any could have won the award as all were completely outstanding. Goals win games but defences win titles, and today our defence put us in a great position to win the league. Difficult to pick one out, but at a push it was our Captain who led from the front, so this weeks award goes to Jack E.