It was a cold grey drizzly morning, with the pitch at Crawley Road although much improved from previous years, still a heavy surface to play on.
Ampthill started the game the brighter, passing the ball much better than the home side, who were a little wasteful when in possession. The home defence were being tested, in recent months they have succumbed to such pressure, but today there was some steel and resilience. It allowed them to gradually grow in to the game, Oliver proving a threat down the right side, on a couple of occasions just being stopped from breaking clear of the back line with a latch ditch tackle.
Ampthill were enjoying a fair few corners, but the home defence again were coming out on top, winning the first headers and pouncing on the second ball to clear, the only time they didn’t, Jack M was well positioned to head clear off the line. 25 minutes in, the first goal arrived, a long ball from Sam, looked to have been swept up by an Ampthill defender, under pressure from Ibu, he missed his kick, Ibu pounced and still 35 metres to goal, he raced away, just the advancing goalkeeper to beat, he deftly chipped over an in to give the home side a lead, probably against the run of play 1-0.
The goal didn’t really effect the flow of the game, loose passing from the home team, meant Ampthill were seeing much more of the ball, they were being kept at bay by a solid rearguard, limited to long range shots, which Nathan was more than equal too. With half time approaching, Ampthill worked down the right,through to the dangerous striker, who for once was given the freedom of the edge of the box to turn, and with still no pressure on the ball, he fired an unstoppable shot in to the corner 1-1. It was a body blow just before half time, it was a rare lack of concentration from the home defence.
Half time team talk picked out the positives of our more resolute defending, but a moment of lack of concentration had cost us, we must improve our passing in midfield to allow us to effectively build attacks.
The second half started with the home team more in the ascendancy, Jake firing an early shot straight at the goalkeeper. Gradually Ampthill got their game back together, and the match started to follow much the pattern of the first half. Whirlwnds struggling to string more than two passes together, Ampthill enjoying the better attacking play, but the home defence, blocking, clearing and throwing bodies on the line. The only real danger, a mirror of the first half, a goal bound header from a corner but this time Ajiri well positioned to head away. Shortly afterwards a very good chance fell their way, an attacker wasn’t picked up at the back post from a left wing cross, but he skewed his shot high and wide. Billy then made a fantastic block tackle to prevent Ampthill’s striker a certain second goal.
At the other end, Jack M just off balance fired a good opportunity just over the bar, it was a rare opportunity for the home team, and the last real action of the game.
Summary: Positive was that we defended with more steel than we have done, probably since the start of the season. We were again disappointing with the ball, our passing was not good enough to be able to compete at this level. As a result our attacking play was pretty none existent. In the end we were pretty fortunate to come away with a draw.
M.O.T.M: All of the defensive unit of Nathan, Thomas, Archie, Jack M, and latterly Jack D & Harrison, managed to keep their team in contention in the game. The pick of the bunch was Jack M, who had his best game this season.