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Friendly – Away To Olney Town Tigers

It was a cold and drizzly morning, but at least we didn’t have the dreaded walk to the allotment pitches on our seasonal visit to Olney Town FC.

An 11 -aside friendly, played over three, twenty minute thirds, to allow us to change systems and try to familiarise ourselves with the format for next season.

Whirlwinds opted for a 3-5-2 system to start off with, a system which they used and looked fairly comfortable with in their only other experience of a 11 a-side. They certainly looked the more comfortable of the two sides to start off with, keeping Olney at arms length and looking dangerous on the attack. Ajiri had two very good chances to break the deadlock but fired wide, Olney at the other end had a long range shot which was keeping practice for Nathan. Whirlwinds were pressing and had a series of corners, all expertly delivered with quality by Sam, really were causing havoc in the home defence, so much so, that a home defender, thundered a header off his home post, a let off for the home side. The first third, finished goal less, but with the away side looking the better quality outfit.

1st third – 0-0

For the second third the away side opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation, and it was clear from the early exchanges that they just weren’t comfortable with it. Olney had picked up their intensity, and were now comfortably winning the loose balls and 50/50’s. They received a gift when an away defender tried to shield a ball out, which didn’t have the legs to cross the goal line, an Olney attacker spotted the error, nipped in and nicked the ball on the goal line, and headed unchallenged in to the box, to slide a pass across goal which was tapped in to the net 1-0. This certainly have the effect of adding more steel to their performance and they were now totally dominant. Confidence seemed to drain from the away side, and panicked defensive clearances and lack of communication, were adding to the problems with getting to grips with a new system, the second goal soon followed, several scrambles in the box, eventually led to an Olney attacker smashing home 2-0, if there ever was an advert for ‘schoolboy defending’ this was it, with 5 or 6 chances to put in an effective defensive clearance all missed and eventually punished. The away side finally found their attacking feet, with Ajiri again firing wide on a couple of occasions when presented with a clear site of goal.

2nd third – 2-0

For the last third the away side switched back to a 3-5-2, and immediately it was obvious this system suits them best, again taking the game to opposition, a lovely ball from Billy, put Ajiri through, this time he managed to get his shot on target, only for the home keeper to palm away, Sam following up, only managed to hit the outside of the post from a tight angle, however he was probably slightly hampered by the on rushing Ajiri, who was desperate to make up for his miss. The next action saw Jake force a corner, again a quality delivery from Sam was headed up in the air by a home defender, it sailed high in the air, Jack M hovering on the edge of the box, watched it all the way to his foot, to smash home a low volley off the inside of the post, a fantastic piece of individual skill, 2-1. Olney were still winning the majority of the 50/50’s, their Rugby heritage certainly shining through, as they looked a little tougher than the away side. Too many of the away side were backing off and it lead unfortunately to a third goal, as an Olney forward drifted past 3 home defenders, to cleverly lay off for a first time finish in the corner 3-1. It highlighted an issue that we have had at times this season, which we need to address when we play the stronger the teams. However the Whirlwinds were looking like a strong attacking unit, again another corner was forced on the left and a quality delivery from Sam, was half cleared, Ajiri pounced controlled with his chest and smashed in to the roof of the net 3-2. Just over five minutes remained and the away side were now full of belief they could get an equaliser or even push on for a win, however Olney are an experienced side, never having played outside of the top division, they stood firm and held on for the win.

FT – 3-2

Scorers : Jack M, Ajiri

Summary : Today was about trying to find our feet at 11 a-side, an opportunity to try different things, the first third we were very good, but our finishing let us down, the second third was a bit of a disaster all round, but we recovered well in the last third and again looked the stronger side. All in all we were fairly pleased with the performance and certainly we learned a lot. We definitely need to show a little more determination and character, as we sometimes get bullied by more physical teams and the middle third highlighted this, however we showed in the first and last thirds that we are a real threat to any team.

M.O.T.M : It was strange today at it was pretty much a mixed bag in terms of individual performances, every player seemed to have good spells and then not so good spells within the game, Billy again did well in midfield, Thomas defended well at times, Ajiri was always a threat and on another day would had 4 or 5. This weeks award goes to Sam, who when needed, added that little bit of quality to our attacking play. Special mention the Dylan, making only his second appearance and Archie making his debut, it was a difficult game for them to shine, but both showed some good contributions.

 

 

Friendly – Away to Watling FC

An away friendly and our first taste of 11 a-side football. We opted for a 3-5-2 formation as we felt it would be easier for us to adapt to from our 9 a side formation.

The 1st half kicked off with the home side on top, Whirlwinds were playing up the slope and with the wind directly in their faces were at distinct disadvantage. Watling were taking advantage of the conditions and piling on the pressure. A series of corners weren’t properly dealt with by the away side, poor clearances putting the goal under threat. Whirlwinds were wide open in the centre of midfield and the home side were picking holes through them, a couple of half chances were put wide and Nathan pulled of a couple of routine saves. Whirlwinds were having the occasional counter attack and were lively enough to have the home defence make some edgy clearances. However Watling were forcing the game and soon made their advantage tell, again the ball was fed through the wide open midfield, and then neatly in behind the defence and despatched in to the corner of the net, leaving Nathan no chance 1-0. Whirlwinds made an immediate response with Ajiri bursting through and under pressure just skewing his shot wide. Down the other end a bit of a let off, with the striker blasting wide when he probably should have scored. Whirlwinds were definitely now making more a game of it, Sam clean through with only the keeper to beat usually so clinical, his tame shot went straight at the keeper. Watling forced another series of corners, none were particularly well dealt with by the away side, but they just about got away with some below standard defending, half time came with just the 1 goal scored in the half.

HT 1-0

Half time team talk concentrated on shoring up the porous midfield 3, getting a better shape so they could shield the defence better, also the wing backs needed to get wider and stretch the play.

The 2nd half kicked off and it was a complete turnaround, the away side with slope and wind in their favour were now dominant, the first 10 minutes were just about all spent in the opposition half, finally the breakthrough game, Sam fed Ajiri on the left hand side of the box he held off the covering defender and rifled across the keeper in to the far corner 1-1. Watling responded with a couple of forays forward, but the home defence and midfield looked much more assured and were much more in control, just a couple of long range shots which Nathan dealt with comfortably his handling looking very assured. Oliver played a long diagonal pass which Ajiri latched on to played a lobbed pass over the top of the home defence, Jack M moved sharply on to it, a neat first touch to bring the ball under control and with his second touch fired the ball in the top corner 1-2. The away side were now well on top, a challenge on the home keeper saw him limp off to be replaced, the resulting corner was half cleared and Jack C took a looping half volley which seemed destined for the top corner, only to see the replacement keeper’s first touch to paw it over the bar. Watling responded well, a break down the right and cross found the striker in the box, he spun towards goal, but off balance, he ballooned his shot over, a bit of a let off. Soon they were made to pay, again a scooped pass over the top of the defence, Sam clearly offside but walking back held his hands up to intimate he wasn’t interfering with play, which was well spotted by the linesman, the ball took one bounce and Jack M despatch an audacious lob over the keeper and in 1-3, a great finish. Only a few minutes remained and the third goal killed the home side’s resilience off. The game finished with the away side pushing for a fourth.

FT 1-3

Scorers : Ajiri, Jack M (2)

Summary : We struggled a little in the first half, the wind and sloping pitch making it difficult, not having played for a couple of months we looked a little rusty defensively. However we were resilient enough to keep ourselves in the game and offered a threat going forward. Second half was much better, we got to grips with the formation and really dominated the second half. A really good introduction to 11 a-side football, and a good result against a mid table Division 1 team.

M.O.T.M :  Lots of good performances, Jake worked really hard and looked lively going forward, Ajiri was always a threat scoring 1 and getting an assist, Thomas particularly in the 2nd half looked at his calm and assured best. Dylan made his debut, Jack M – to fine finishes, was just pipped for the award by Jack D, who competed really well throughout and was a great source of vocal encouragement to his team mates.

 

 

Friendly – Home To Shefford

A grey early start, with some light drizzle in the air, today saw the Whirlwinds  host Shefford Saints Reds, a division higher, so we expected a sterner test than we have had of late.

The game kicked off and opening exchanges were pretty even, the home side with the majority of early forays in to the opposition half, however they weren’t getting all their own way with Shefford looking to get on the front foot and attack whenever the opportunity arose. Midfield was very competitive and Shefford had two dangerous wide players, who were probably enjoying a little too much space. The home side however were looking the more dangerous, and around 10 minutes in the deadlock was broken, an early release ball by Jake saw Ajiri sprint clear of the defence and slot home with his trade mark finish, low angled across the goalkeeper and in to the bottom corner 1-0. Shefford responded well and forced a couple of dangerous corners which weren’t dealt with particularly well by the home defence. Not used to being under consistent pressure the home side were a little unstable in defence and some panicky clearances were not capalatised on very well by the away side. Gradually the home side, got back to controlling the game and enjoyed a 10 minute spell of attacking dominance Jack M sending a looping header just over the bar, and towards the end of the half a volley just wide, Ajiri clean through with just the keeper to beat shot wide, and Sam saw a curling shot come back off the bar.

HT 1-0

Half time team talked focused on two elements, finishing which has been a thorn in our side this season, and we must be calmer in our defensive clearances, far too often they were rushed and then invited secondary pressure.

The second half kicked off and immediately the home side were on the front foot, Ajiri menacing down the left and Jake lively on the right were causing all sorts of problems for the visitors defence, the keeper pulled off two super saves to keep the score to just one, he could nothing about what was about to come, a great combination between Jake and Oliver saw the latter tee up Billy on the edge of the box, his first time strike went like a thunderbolt in to the roof of the net 2-0. The goal seemed to break the resilience of the away side, the game got a little tetchy with Billy on the end of one particular scathing challenge long after the ball had gone. The home side were well on top, a third goal was coming and so it did with Ajiri finishing off a good phase of play, clipping in past the stranded keeper, 3-0. The home side were now well on top, and could have and possibly should have doubled their lead in the last 1o minutes, with host of good chances not finished off.

FT 3-0

Scorers : Ajiri (2), Billy

Summary : Overall a very assured and controlled display, some defensive frailties were put to bed in the second half where we were in total control. Again our finishing wasn’t where it should be and this is one area where we can make a significant improvement. In the end the away side were flattered by thy score line.

M.O.T.M : Some very good individual displays today. Special mention to Jake & Oliver who particularly in the second half caused lots of problems, Billy once again dominated the midfield and scored a peach of a goal. But today’s award goes to Ajiri, who scored two goals, but his wing play was terrific, unfortunately we didn’t apply the finishing touch to his superb crosses, this shouldn’t detract from the excellent work he did.

 

 

Cup Round 2 – away to Westoning

A late venue change saw us host this cup tie, as Westoning’s pitch was waterlogged. It was a wild and windy day !

Whirlwinds kicked off with the wind and rain blowing in their faces. They coped with the conditions well to start off with and caught Westoning cold, with Billy threading a through ball to Ajiri, who sped away from the defence and smashed the ball in to the top right hand corner 0-1. Whirlwinds were well on top and spurned a number of chances to increase the lead. Westoning with the howling wind literally in their sails, finally got going and started to forage forward, the wind and rain were getting heavier and heavier, Whirlwinds were now really struggling to cope, defensive clearances were blowing back and Westoning were using the conditions well to their advantage. A series of well delivered corners heaped on the pressure, the swirling wind making defending extremely difficult. Finally the pressure told when one of the corners was smartly volleyed home 1-1. It was a bitter blow, and brought even more pressure, which led to panic, just a minute later, a defensive mix up, gifted the grateful attacker the ball and an open goal, the blunder was punished 2-1. Westoning smelt blood and could see the difficulty the ‘away’ side were having with the conditions and pressed forward, Whirlwinds responded well and started to stand up to the series of long balls. Eventually the rain and wind eased a little, and with a little coaxing from the sidelines, the panic faded and they started to play the ball on the floor and get control of the game back. Finishing the half strongly and spurning two fine opportunities to equalise.

HT 2-1

Sodden bodies, and ego’s bruised they trudged in for a half time team talk. A simple message, the conditions were now in our favour, and in the second half we needed to apply pressure, we don’t like to play ‘long balls’ however sometimes you have to play the conditions.

Second half kicked off, with the wind still strong, but nowhere near what it was in the first half, the rain lightened but still came down. Whirlwinds pushed Westoning back and spent the majority of the time in their own half, the pitch was getting heavy, and the ball was sticking, making attacking play difficult. Eventually they found a way with Ajiri finding some space in the centre and firing home from just outside the box low to the keepers right 2-2. They now pushed on and created chance after chance, several one on one’s with the keeper, saw the latter come out on top every time, the heavy conditions definitely playing a part. Westoning were penned in and Nathan was a bystander, their occasional counter easily mopped up by the defence. Whirlwinds had enough chances to come out clear winners, but just couldn’t find the killer 3rd goal, and so the final whistle went and on to penalties.

Usually lot’s of hands go up to take a penalty, strangely a lot stayed down this time ! The line up was decided, and off we went, penalties is a lottery, and although we got all of our penalties on target, one unluckily crashing off the bar, Westoning came through 3-2.

FT 2-2 – Westoning win 3-2 on pens

Summary: It was a difficult day to play football, the conditions certainly didn’t suit our passing style and I think we definitely had the worst of the weather in the first half. We battled back really well, after a nervy 10 minutes led to us conceding 2 goals. We have spoken in the last few weeks about finishing, although we are scoring lots of goals, our finishing hasn’t been great, and we paid the price today, we had enough chances towards end of the first half and in the second half to win comfortably. However we showed great character for the majority of the game, just wasn’t our year !

M.O.T.M: Special mention to all those who stepped up to take penalties, we score them as a team and miss them as a team. It was difficult to play football today, so defenders stood out Nathan, Thomas & Jack C, came under a lot of pressure in the first half and pulled themselves together well after conceding two quick goals. However on the day he scored hos 100th goal for the team, there can be only one winner : Ajiri

Ajiri - 100 Goals For WWFC Whirlwinds

Ajiri – 100 Goals For WWFC Whirlwinds