1. Cameron (GK), 3. Billy 4. Oakley 5. Jack D 6. Jack C , 7. Sam.A., 8. Jack M , 9. Ajiri , 10. Mitchel – Capt , 12. Oliver, 14. Jake
A beautiful morning for football and today we welcomed Hercules Lions who last met in the Cup Final at the MK Dons, Crawley Road is a slightly different experience !
Hercules started the game well, passing and moving the ball well, as we knew they would. They were largely held at bay, but looked dangerous in the wide areas of the pitch with long diagonal balls, catching both wide defenders a little high and out of position. 10 minutes in, and the visitors early dominance was rewarded, the goal came from a cross from a wide arae and a great headed finish,0-1. The visitors continued to control the majority of the ball, but Whirlwinds were starting to add an attacking threat, with a couple of counter attacks. A couple of half chances fell to the visitors, but they failed to increase their lead. A great quick move from back to midfield to front, found Ajiri on the left take his man on, and smash the ball in the near post roof of the net, 1-1 and a reward for more attacking intent. Buoyed by the goal Whirlwinds started to get more of the ball and the next 5 minutes, the game could have gone either way, the visitors now playing more on the counter, but again exposing a defensive weakness in the wide areas, they increased their lead and again, it came from a cross from the left and smart finish 1-2. Whirlwinds had looked an equal in the game and it was a pivotal goal. The home defence, on their own backs, then decided to try and play high line, a tactic that has cost us dearly in the past, the vistors a clever passing team saw the gaps behind and played ball after ball through the high line, and in a mad 10 minute spell, they added another 3 goals, and the score drifted to 1-5. Defensive changes were made in the last 5 minutes of the half and we limped to half time without conceding further.
Half time team talk was a tough one, again we were masters of our own downfall and we must listen to coaching instruction to guide us through the game. The game was gone because of another 10/15 minute spell of defensive disorganisation and at this level that is punished. Message was to try and win the second half and be more positive with our passing.
The second half didn’t start well ! Possession was lost from kick off, 1 pass to a wide player who ghosted past 4 players who were still on their half time break, to score 1-6. A dreadful start. However Whirlwinds responded well, they know they are a better team than they are currently showing, pride kicked in and they started to control more of the ball and were very dangerous on the counter attack, 3 or 4 times they had opportunities to close the gap before Sam A. finished off a fast counter attack 2-6. The visitors responded to this and enjoyed a bit more of a threat, the next few minutes were much more even, a dipping shot just evaded Cameron’s reach an nestled in the top corner, 2-7. Whirlwinds again responded well and enjoyed the Lions share of the game, again looking lively going forward and on a few occasions after breaking free of the rearguard couldn’t find a finish, finally a break away saw Jack M, spring free of the offside trap to slot through the advancing keepers legs 3-7. Whirlwinds pushed on and again a couple of chances went begging, a few gaps started to appear behind the home sides midfield as they pushed forward and the visitors did have the occasional foray forward and created a couple of good chances. They increased their lead after a mix up between the home defence and keeper at the near post, saw the ball hit an unaware attacker and trickle in 3-8. The final few minutes were played out with neither side threatening to increase their score.
Scorers : Ajiri, Sam A., Jack M.
Summary : Responded very well to going behind again early on, but another 10/15 minute defensive collapse cost us dearly. Second half was much more positive and we were in the most, the more dominant team. We must try and learn from these defensive collapses and manage the game much better when we come under some pressure. Without this 10/15 minutes it would have been a very close game.
M.O.M : Jack M, worked really hard for the team in a few different positions and finally got back on the score sheet after being so prolific in recent seasons. Special mention to Oliver who helped us keep the ball much better in the second half.