WWFC Hurricanes 1 – 3 Stony Stratford
H/T Score: 1 – 1
Team: Evan; Charles, Freddie, Orlando, Rocco (c), Ryan; Asante, Francis, Harry, Joe, Luke; Tao
HURRICANES LEFT STONY-FACED BY COMEBACK
Following the win at Bletchley Juniors Tornadoes last week, the Hurricanes went into their final home game of the season against the league leaders in fine fettle. Stony Stratford had surged to top spot with 5 wins and a draw, and looked good to claim the Division 3 title. However, Leon and Andy had a full squad to choose from on a cool breezy early morning kick-off, so spirits were high.
The starting line up saw Luke in goal, with Ryan, Rocco and Charles in defence, Joe and Francis in central midfield with Harry and Asante outside of them, and Tao up front.
Straight away, Tao won the ball from the kick-off, played in Asante who raced towards goal but his shot was just wide of the post – nearly the fastest goal in Hurricanes history! Stony settled, and won a corner which was well defended by the home team. They broke forward at pace, with Francis, Joe and Asante moving the ball upfield until Asante reached the byline – his cross reached Tao but his looped effort dropped into the top of the net. Stony then won the ball in midfield and forced a good save from Luke. However, the Lions had their tails up and a one-two between Asante and Francis led to Asante’s cross being scrambled away before Francis and then Tao peppered the goal with shots – alas, the grateful keeper gathered.
The game was finely balanced with both teams attacking at will, and also resolutely defending – Charles made a great block to deny a shot, and the next minute chased back forcing the Stony striker into an early shot well held at the second attempt by Luke. Shortly after, Rocco and Ryan did well to see off the danger from an attack down the right flank, and Joe was throwing himself into tackles and pressing well.
Ten minutes in, and a Luke goal kick was helped up the field by Tao towards Asante. The ball was blocked and Francis was first to the rebound. His slide-rule pass was pounced on by Asante but he was flagged for offside, a very close call. Soon a similar attack from Luke’s goal kick saw Asante flattened by the Stony no. 5. The referee played the advantage, but Tao’s attempt cleared the bar.
The Lions were getting closer, and following great pressure from the Woburn midfield they got their reward. Asante was sent clean through, and when he was bundled over inside the box by the no. 5 again the referee had no option but to point to the spot. Who would step up? Joe coolly placed the ball on the spot, drove it to the keeper’s right and slotted home. 1-0 and a deserved lead.
Woburn surged forward, looking to press home their slender advantage, and a slick move between Francis and Asante nearly paid off. Then Freddie, Joe and Asante combined but again the danger was cleared. Not to be left out, Harry and Tao created yet another opportunity but the score remained 1-0. Stony, realising that half-time was nearly upon them (and possibly anticipating a ‘hairdryer’ team talk) pushed forward, and nearly levelled when a ball over the top drew another smart save from Luke. The pressure was building, and just before half-time Stony won the ball on the edge of the Lions’ box, took a shot which cannoned off of the post to be poked home by an attacking foot. 1-1, and back to deadlock. The whistle blew shortly after, and at half-time the teams could regroup before the next battle.
The second half saw Evan replacing Luke in goal, with Harry given a breather and Francis moving to the wing. Orlando took over from Charles at right back, and he was quickly into action threading a pass through to Asante whose 40 yard run was rewarded with a throw-in. From this, he and Tao linked well to force a corner but from it Stony Stratford broke quickly upfield and won a corner of their own. Francis managed a good block from the resulting shot, and once more the ball was at the other end of the pitch as Tao’s ball found Asante and the Stony keeper had to recover from a spill to gather at the second attempt.
After a fine save from Evan, Joe won yet another midfield battle and teed up Francis, but the ball was nicked off of his foot for a corner as he was about to shoot. Joe’s delivery was inch-perfect, but Luke’s header was just wide. Joe was involved again as he flicked Orlando’s pass over his head for Asante to shoot towards the busy keeper. As in the first half, the Lions were cranking up the pressure and Francis, Luke and Tao all had shots saved. Of course, a team doesn’t get to be league leaders without being able to respond to adverse situations and from nowhere, Stony took the lead – a quick break, a gap in the defence, a slotted shot past Evan and it was 1-2. Woburn were rattled, none more so than Luke who took a ball to the face just after the goal – fortunately he was able to carry on. Two minutes later and Joe was bundled off of the ball in what looked like a foul – however, the referee allowed play to continue, Stony Stratford had a shot from the edge of the box and it nestled in the back of the net. 1-3, and Woburn could feel a bit hard done by at this point. However, their heads didn’t drop and Luke’s quick feet very nearly played in Harry, who had come back on to bolster the attack.
The Lions’ fighting spirit was once again epitomised by Rocco who executed a superb tackle on the Stony no. 14, then minutes later repeated the move on another unsuspecting away player. With ten minutes to play, the Hurricanes were still pushing, and committing players forward, no doubt feeling that their efforts had not been fully rewarded at this point. Tao went close, and down the other end Charles, Rocco and Ryan had to be strong to thwart the Stony counter-attacks. Tao was then clipped and went down but play continued, with no advantage to the home team forthcoming. A minute later, Woburn’s last meaningful attack of the game saw Joe’s corner eventually find Charles but his header was cleared off of the line! Soon it was Luke’s turn to be dumped on the floor with a move that appeared to be straight from a judo manual but once again, mystifyingly, nothing was given. As usual, each time it happened, the Woburn boys got up and carried on with no complaints despite the physical challenges they were being subjected to. There was just time for Tao to be grounded again and that was that. 1-3 to Stony Stratford.
The crowd had witnessed a great game of football in which Woburn Lions Hurricanes can be proud to have gone toe-to-toe with the likely winners of the Division. Credit to Stony Stratford for a resilient comeback, but the day really belonged to the warriors from Woburn despite the result. The final league match of the season will see the Lions away to Two Mile Ash Dragons, who have only dropped points to Stony this season so will be a very tough one. Hopefully Woburn can finish with a flourish!