It was another fine sunny morning, although a little on the cold side, Crawley Road once again looked a good surface to play on, after a few weeks of largely dry weather.
The home side started the much stronger, high intensity from the start, winning tackles, second balls, there was a steel to their game, which the away side couldn’t match. Chances started to be created Jack M skying one over the bar from a great run and cross from Ajiri, Sam tested the keeper, Jack M again could only fire straight at the keeper when in a good position. Sam swung over a great free kick to the back post, which Billy acrobatically volleyed and smashed off the post. Ampthill were entrenched in their own half, with Nathan and the home defenders virtually bystanders, just having to mop up the odd break up field. Finally with around 20 minutes gone the deadlock was broken, a good combination between Jack & Ajiri, saw the latter slide the ball firmly sideways, to the oncoming Billy who used his momentum and pace of the ball, to thunder a side foot shot from 20 yards straight in to the top corner, it was a goal to grace any stage 1-0. Ampthill’s shoulders sunk, as they now feared a bombardment from the home side, having somehow survived to this point without conceding. Chances flowed, the home keeper pulling of two good saves from Ajiri, now vying to get the killer second goal, which would have ended any resistance. Ampthill were starting to cause some problems down the left, the tricky winger whipping in some good crosses, but they lacked midfield support and the home defence always had enough bodies to deal with the danger. Half time approached with frustratingly for the home side, a failure to add more goals, to show for their complete dominance of the first half.
Another positive team talk, it was a fine first half performance, but as has been the case in lots of halves this season, we wasted some excellent scoring opportunities, and needed to be more clinical in front of goal. We also warned of a back lash from Ampthill, as their coaches were giving them a dressing down just a few yards away.
Second half kicked off and immediately you could see it was a different Ampthill, to the first half, they were now contesting every ball strongly, and instead of raising their game up a level to respond, the home side started to retreat in to their shells. Ampthill were on the front foot, but their attacking forays were largely being rebuffed by the home defence, forcing a series of corners, the home side were now on the back foot and playing counter attacking football. It was a strange almost a full role reversal of the first half, but fortunately Ampthill don’t quite have the same attacking threat. However pressure was building, and sooner or later, something would drop to them, and so it did, the home side looked to be under no pressure on the left, but two failed clearances allowed a run an cross in to the box, it took a couple of bounces and fell kindly to an Ampthill attacker who smashed a half volley in to the corner 1-1. It had been coming, and a failure by the Whirlwinds to respond, and raise their game had given Ampthill a chance to get back in to the game. The goal however did have the right effect on the home team, straight from the kick off they attacked down the left, and forced a throw just up from the penalty area, Billy launched it over a defenders head, which Ajiri picked up, danced round two defenders and 6 yards out slotted home low in the bottom corner 2-1. It was a perfectly timed response, and the home side now looked like the team they were in the first half. Back in control in midfield they pushed Ampthill back in their own half, Jack M again testing the keeper, Sam sending a shot just wide, Ajiri burst through and his shot just slid inches past and was almost knocked in at the back post by a sliding Jack M. Late on Ampthill got a free kick which Nathan palmed away through a crowd of bodies. The home side took the warning, and slowed the game down to see out for an important win and 3 valuable points.
Scorers : Billy & Ajiri
Summary : It was great first half performance, and with a little bit of luck and more composure in front of goal the game would have been dead and buried at half time. However the first 10-15 minutes of the second half was disappointing, effort and intensity levels dropped off and we allowed Ampthill back in to the game. A real positive response from conceding to score almost straight away, and then we created enough opportunities to kill the game off.
M.O.T.M : It was a real performance of two halves, Ajiri and Sam both looked dangerous as attacking threats and are now both adding some defensive work to their games, which has been lacking in many games this season, but the award once again goes Billy, outstanding in the first half in particular, and a super goal to round it off.