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 , 11. Joe , 12. Oliver, 14. Jake
Today saw the league leaders visit, with a 100% record to protect. Again a heavy pitch to contend with, after a week of on and off rain. The game kicked off under leaden skies with the threat of rain in the air. Oakley looked confident and very good in control of possession. Whirlwinds started ok, but were finding it difficult to get hold of the ball for long periods. Midfield were a little rushed in possession and not finding their usual rhythm. Credit to Oakley they were moving the ball around well on a difficult surface, where the Whirlwinds were 2nd best in midfield, the defence looked strong and on top, and were managing to keep Oakley at arms length and repelling the raids forward with a degree of comfort. Oakley were restricted to long range efforts which didn’t really cause Cameron any trouble. A corner from the right caused a scare, when it evaded the front post block and skidded across the 6 yard box to be picked up in the back post area by an Oakley attacker, a defensive body was thrown in the way and the ball hacked clear at the second attempt. Whirlwinds finally started to get a little more control in midfield and created a platform to build attacks but couldn’t really put anything together as Oakley’s defensive resilience was almost up to the standard of the home side. Certainly the half finished with defences largely on top and Oakley enjoying the majority of the 1st half possession.
Whirlwinds trudged off with glum faces, not used to having come off 2nd best in the possession stats. Coaches were happy having played against the slope in the first 30 minutes, on a heavy pitch, we felt that the advantage would be with the home side in the second half. They just needed to be more decisive with midfield passes, and use their counter attacking pace to better effect. Whirlwinds started the half well, much more intent with the ball, the first exchange saw a well struck shot by Sam A, smartly saved by the opposition keeper. Oakley certainly now more worried, with Ajiri using his pace to get them back tracking, one fine burst and cross just out of the reach of Jack M, with the goal gaping. Oakley still looked a threat in possession, but again the home defence looked like they would cope with everything, that the opposition could throw at them. With around half of second half gone, an opposition attacker evaded a gaggle of Whirlwind’s defenders to deliver a low cross into the box, a perceptive Oakley attacker broke from midfield, the run wasn’t picked up by the home midfield, to meet the ball for a simple tap in at the far post 0-1, a disappointing goal to give away, from what was really the first defensive lapse. Whirlwinds responded well, as they tend to do, driving forward, a great, quick change of passes between Ajiri and Jack M, saw the latter hit the post from a tight angle. Oakley were being pinned back and the pressure exerted, a great corner from Sam A, was met at the near post by Jack C, but saw his stooping header just clear the bar. Oakley tried to break out and again were neat with the ball, but couldn’t really break the strong rearguard, really restricted to the odd long range effort which were just shooting practice for Cameron. A powerful run and vicious strike by Ajiri saw the opposition ‘keeper dive low and save to his right. The final few minutes saw Whirlwinds abandon the usual shape and play with three upfront, another corner was cleared to Billy on the edge of the box, who hit a thunderous strike which was flying in until an Oakley defender somehow got a head to it and it flicked over the bar. Whirlwinds threw everything at them, Oakley breaking with the odd counter attack which stretched the out numbered defence and midfield, but again they stood tall and didn’t present the opposition with a real clear cut chance. The final whistle blew, and both sides, warmly congratulated each other, both having given everything to the cause.
Summary : Although disappointed not take something from the game, the whole team can be proud of their performances. It was one of those games where the ball just wouldn’t break to give a clear chance. A particularly outstanding defensive performance from the ‘back 4’, tested to the hilt especially in the first half, but held firm, if they keep up that level, we won’t lose many games this season. Thank you to the opposition, certainly this season the best ‘footballing’ team we have played, class on the pitch and off it, a real credit to their club.
MOM – Jack C, a towering, defensive performance, a rock at the back who is growing in to his central role with every game.