Battle For The Bragging Rights
It is always going to be a somewhat apprehensive affair when two teams come together from the same club, no matter what results may have gone before. And that was just it. Two teams eager to take the bragging rights and post what could be an important result come season-end.
Whirlwinds lead up to this match had been quite impressive; a heart-breaking (and a little unjust maybe) defeat in the league cup followed up by a solid win in their opening league game a week later. So with a little swagger the boys arrived for this one in good form. Some sound pre-season recruitment has bolstered the squad and spectators have been treated to some lovely passages of play, with some fine passing and movement combined with strength – both physically and mentally.
But there were clearly some nerves jangling for this one and so a bright, confident start was a must.
And so it began. From the first whistle Whirlwinds closed down space and put pressure on the Hurricanes to give them little time on the ball. The early pressure quickly told and after a lovely ball chipped through into space, Iyanu powered through a defensive hole and hammered home. 1 minute and 53 seconds on the clock… 1-0 on the scoreboard. Just the start they had hoped for.
Hurricanes take the re-start and lose possession almost immediately. Great strength in the tackle from Nat and Whirlwinds are on the counter-attack. A nifty little pass through to Jake who switches play back to TC. A deft turn and with spaces opening up he pushes a ball to the left and Iyanu collects. With great pace and power he ghosts past two defenders, looks up and pushes a beautiful square ball across the box to Bruce. There is only one thing in his mind now and he places the ball past a stranded keeper. 3 minutes on the clock… 2-0 on the scoreboard.
After two fantastic early goals expectations were high now for Whirlwinds to press on and whilst you could not expect a goal average of 90 seconds to continue, you could see that there was so much potential for more.
But try they might. Almost 15 minutes of play passed with Whirlwinds pushing the ball around the park, driving into space and looking ever threatening on the Hurricanes goal. But a combination of mis-hit shots, over-hit shots, over complicating matters and some great saves from the Hurricane keeper kept matters at 2-0. Three clear breaks from Iyanu, which on a different day would have all been fished out of the back of the net. But not today and whilst Whirlwinds mostly dominate play the home side defend bravely and begin to frustrate the visitors.
A few good passages of play from Hurricanes, always looking to Zac as their outlet and it is only good communication between CJ, Conn, Jamie and H that keep matters in order. Then Whirlwinds swoop.
A good early offload out of hand from H finds Shane. A nice little inter-play with Nat and momentum builds. TC peels away drawing two defenders and creating a monumental gap, Jake pounces…OOOH…great save and the Hurricanes keeper pushes it over the bar for a corner.
Jake sweeps in a delightful floated cross. Confusion in the area, but not for Bruce at the back post who bags his second of the day. Lovely goal. 15 minutes on the clock… 3-0 on the score board.
A few minutes of complacency perhaps now from Whirlwinds (who if had taken all their chances would have been 7 up by now) and Hurricanes resilience shines through. A few substitutions for them pays dividends as those fresh legs zip the ball about and make the most of the space gifted from a Whirlwind team not closing down as efficiently as they had earlier.
It was a wonderful ball through to Zac down the left that he collected well, drove past his opposite number and struck a fierce drive on goal. H caught cold and beaten at his near-post. The boy ain’t happy with himself at all and no doubt that one will be up for discussion on the way home! But, with a calm head he retrieves the ball from his goal and sets about getting his boys back on track.
Whirlwinds are caught half asleep again as the Hurricanes press, but a sound stop from the keeper draws the first half to a close. Tense stuff. Indeed a few spectators who arrived midway through the half said you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. In truth, Whirlwinds should have been out of sight by now, but they weren’t and at 3-1 it was still all to play for.
A robust team talk from Williams at half time looking to remedy some areas that needed sorting together with some words to help calm frustrations and the boys were ready.
Or were they? The opening 10 minutes of the second half was a sloppy affair from both sides. Both teams trying too hard. A few niggles starting to creep in, but credit to our boys they kept their heads and focussed on their football, not getting drawn into any petty squables.
And with that focus came their reward. An ill-judged comment suggested Whirlwinds were a ‘one man team’. If that were the case you’d set up and deal with it quite comfortably. So no, what we have is a team that works well and utilises each team members strength. That is where the Whirlwinds fourth goal come from – team interplay.
Stunning work from Conn at the back and he calmly whips a ball through to Andrew. He looks up and chips a ball across to his left where Guy collects and immediately zips it down the wing where Nat draws the ball back across field. Owen makes a fine run at the far side and draws the attention of a defender. Into the gap, step up Iyanu who puts is fist half frustrations well behind him and take his team to a 4-1 lead. Team goal, finished off beautifully by the young powerhouse.
From the re-start Whirwinds look strangely ill at ease. A moment of hesitation and with H sitting high as his team had looked to counter, Hurricanes rob the ball well and feed to Zac out on the left. He takes his chance well and lobs the hapless H for his and Hurricane’s second. 4-2
It took a good few minutes for Whirlwinds to re-group, riding a few over zealous challenges and building momentum once again. Eventually the better interplay and use of ball told and with 12 minutes remaining Jake dazzles the left back with a deft drag-back and flick into the path of Iyanu. He’s through, one on one… YESSSSS! Good lad. 5-2. (He’s smiling again now!)
With just a few minutes remaining Whirlwinds were now well on top and continued to whip the ball around an exhausted home team. Some wonderful traingular patters down the left flank, power down the middle and pace down the right. It’s all too much and it is Iyanu who takes the team tally to 6, squeezing a shot in low just past the Hurricane keeper. 6-2.
So that was that. Full time. Whirlwinds posting a sound 6-2 league win over their in-club rivals. It could have been so much more, but the chances have to be taken.
Well done to the boys. A super, collective team effort from the Whirlwinds today. Keep pressing on.
Fantastic job on the park today from Bruce. Bagging a couple of goals, tackling his heart out and helping the team drive forwards. A well earned MOM.
Next week Whirlwinds face a bit of an unkown quantity in some ways, as they travel away to Willen in the League.
I hear that due to huge demand, TicketMaster is down. So away fans you will be able to gain admission on the day!