February and our first friendly of the season! We welcomed 2nd Division Luton Tigers to Crawley Road.
With a game on prior to us, the pitch had held up quite well, albeit a little bobbly in places. Whirlwinds started the better of the two sides, with the away team looking slightly nervous and not certain what to expect from the home side. It was a time to put a strangle hold on the game, however Whirlwinds were once again very loose in possession of the ball, and making it tough going for themselves. It allowed the away side to grow in confidence and gradually they started to make it more of an even contest. Halfway through the game the home side took the lead, Sam and Oliver combined for the latter to put Ibu through and he drove towards goal and slotted past the keeper at the near post, 1-0. Sam was then desperately unlucky not to double the lead, seeing his long range speculative effort thump back off the bar. Tigers were competitive in midfield, but struggling to trouble the home goal, with anything more than a long range shot, which Nathan was more than equal too. It was the home side who doubled their lead, a corner from Sam found it’s way to Ajiri who swivelled to thump home 2-0.
It should have settled the home team, but again they struggled really to move the ball with any speed or accuracy, when they did get in to good positions, their final ball more than often lacked any quality to create another goal scoring opportunity.
Half time team talk……..we might as well record and replay every week! Same theme, not moving the ball quickly enough, not creating the passing angles, not protecting the ball, always trying to force passes instead of rebuilding. Off they went in to the second half with a proverbial flea in their ears.
Tigers gee’d up by a half time team talk, that most certainly went along the lines of ” don’t be frightened of them, they’re not that good, your as good as them, just believe”, started the half brightly, now they were actually looking like the team in the higher division, stronger in midfield, fairly tight in defence, but just lacking a cutting edge to get in behind the home defence. Again the were restricted to shots from long range, and the occasional corner which to their credit were easily dealt with by the home defence. But if you create enough pressure, sooner or later a crack will appear, and so it proved, a rare mistake, allowed a run in behind the defence, and the attacker took full advantage and slotted home 2-1. It demanded a response from the home team and it got one, from the next attack, Ajiri kept his width and attacked the full back, whipped in a lovely cross, which the Goalkeeper got a palm to, but Ibu reacted quickly and nipped in front of the defender to head home 3-1. It should have lifted the home team to once again take control of the game, but the Tigers weren’t lying down, again they got in behind the home defence, but this time Nathan was quicker off his line, and managed to smother the shot. From virtually the next attack, a midfielder wasn’t closed down, and he took advantage of the time and space to shoot, and the ball evaded Nathan’s dive and in, 3-2.
One thing the Whirlwinds have shown in recent months is some resilience, they dug in, determined not to let the underdogs take anything from the game, and saw the game out, to escape with the narrowest of victories.
Scorers: Ibu (2), Ajiri
Summary: Once again we were disappointing with the ball, our confidence in possession has drained away with every game that has passed. After a full after match inquest, it emerges that the team hasn’t collectively been putting a full effort and commitment in to training, something we had picked up on. Thus their speed of thought in games hasn’t been at the level it should be. We will be cracking the whip at training now, and demand 100% effort from everyone.
M.O.T.M: Again most players were well below the levels they have set themselves. Jake played in a few positions and acquitted himself well in all, but the brightest spark was Ibu, so he receives this weeks award.