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BPR – Tournament

Romping through their group, just a solitary draw (which they should have won comfortably) and then winning all the other games without conceding a solitary goal. They made a good start to the final, having the better of the early exchanges, but a moment of lack of concentration saw them conceded from a corner and they couldn’t find a way back.

Super effort from the team, played some quality football, a very Well Done!

Friendly – Home To Maulden Magpies

A cool morning at Crawley Road for the visit of Maulden Magpies, who’s last visit in May 2016 saw the Whirlwinds secure the divisional title.

The game kicked off and it was immediately apparent that Maulden were looking to pack the midfield and make life difficult for the home side. Whirlwinds huffed and puffed, enjoyed muck of the possession but couldn’t work a way around the visitors. With ten minutes on the clock they found a way through, Sam crossing for Ibu to just about scramble home 1-0. The next 15 minutes or so just proved frustrating for the home team, tending to play very narrow they were just crowded out by the black and white shirts. When they did break the lines, an over zealous assistant raised his flag, on most occasions making the complete wrong decision, adding to the growing frustration. Finally the added a second, Ollie on his debut, slotting the ball through to Ibu to provide a smart finish 2-0.

HT: 2-0

A heat map of the oppositions first half positions was provided to Whirlwinds to view, it was very easy to see where the attacking space was, they were sent out to get white lines on their boots!

Instantly the Whirlwinds changed the game, by taking wider positions and the full backs providing an attacking outlet, Sam added a third with Ajiri assisting 3-0. Sam was then upended in the penalty box, Jack C having not hit the net this season was offered the opportunity to get on the score sheet, his well struck penalty just clipping the outside of the left hand post. Ajiri then had a goal disallowed for hand ball, but quickly made up for it, Sam playing him in for a precise finish to the bottom right hand corner 4-0. Maulden were offering no attacking a threat, the home defence quite often left to mark no-one and look on at the action at the opposite end. Sam added his second of the game and the teams fifth, Ajiri with the assist 5-0. Ollie enjoying a fine game on his debut got the reward he deserved a combination with Jack M and then a lovely curling finish 6-0. Jack C then made up for his penalty miss, a powerful header from a corner on the left by Sam. Sam then finished the scoring completing his hat trick after good work down the right by Oakley, 8-0.

FT: 8-0

Scorers: Sam (3), Ibu (2), Jack C, Ollie, Ajiri

Summary: We made hard work of it in the first half, not using the width of the pitch to stretch the opposition and create space. Second half we played with much more width and it was one way traffic.

M.O.T.M: Sam is enjoying his best form of the season and today scored three and assisted three, James in only his second game looked much more confident and comfortable, Ollie making his debut was polished and accomplished in everything he did. This weeks award goes to Oakley who had his best game all season.

Friendly – Home To Luton Tigers

We once again welcomed Luton Tigers to Crawley Road for a friendly.

The game got underway and it was Luton who started much the brighter. The home team were second to every ball in midfield, and the away side playing some neat one and two touch football, were giving the home side a master class in how to play quickly through tight spaces. They took an early and deserved lead, playing through the middle, and then finding the unmarked player at the back post who calmly finished 0-1. They quickly doubled their lead, the home side never got set for the corner, and ball was powerfully headed home 0-2. Whirlwinds just hadn’t got out of the blocks, and weren’t competing at all in the game. It got a whole lot worse as a cross was allowed to come too easily and Luton got a third 0-3. A re-shuffle in midfield and some soul searching from the team, brought a positive response, Jack M launching a long ball for Ajiri to race clear of the defence and finish with aplomb 1-3.

It was the lift the home team desperately needed, the front three were now combining and causing the Luton defence all kinds of problems, with their pace and skill, Ibu fed Ajiri with a lovely through ball and he again made the finish look easy 2-3. Roles were reversed and it was now the home side dominating in midfield, they drew level with Brandon working some magic in the right channel, feeding Sam who drifted in from the left to score 3-3. It was a breathtaking first half hour, full of goals and ascendancy swinging from one side to to the other. Luton still not out of it, despite sacrificing a three goal lead then tipped the balance in their favour, again a cross was to easily put in the box and then not well defended at the back post to allow the attacker to tap in 3-4. The home team took it on the chin, Ajiri played Sam through, and centre of goal he was upended with a tackle from behind. A free kick centre of goal twenty yards out, Sam stepped up and curled a dipping shot over the wall, it hit the inside of the top left hand post and in to the net, a supreme piece of individual brilliance 4-4.

HT 4-4

Half time was a bit of a dressing down for the team, they hadn’t gone in to the game with the correct attitude and we had paid an early price for it, however we had showed great character to drag ourselves from the canvas, and draw level. We needed to put in a top second half performance to make up for the first half.

Second half got underway, and it was again Luton who started the better, a reaction probably to a dressing down they got at half time after throwing away a three goal lead. Despite their superiority in midfield the home defence was holding them at arms length, but it was the home team who took the lead, Ajiri completing his hat trick  with a swift counter attack 5-4. At the other end Luton created a good chance but the shot bounced off the bar. It was a pivotal moment, as the home team were now looking a real threat every time they went forward, Ajiri and Ibu combined for the latter to calmly  finish after going 1 v 1 against the ‘Keeper 6-4. The home team were now rampant, and were breaking forward and scoring at will, the front three of Sam, Ajiri & Ibu tearing wholes in the Luton defence, Ajiri adding another two goals to his tally, Ibu doubling his tally and the pick of the bunch was a deft lobbed finish from Sam to complete his hat trick, final score 10-4.

FT: 10-4

Scorers: Ajiri (5), Sam (3), Ibu (2)

Summary: This game was a mirror image of our season, in equal parts, we were rubbish, average & brilliant! The start of the game was all about attitude, we didn’t start the game in the right way mentally. Showed great character to drag ourselves back in to the game, and then for the last 30 minutes it looked like we could score almost at will.

M.O.T.M: It was a strange game with all players having good and bad spells, Ajiri looked a threat and is growing in to the central striker role, Thomas & Jack C at least in the second half brought some stability at the back. This weeks award goes to Sam, who was creative with the ball and two of his goals were superb pieces of individual skill.

 

 

Friendly – Home To Barton Rovers F.C

After drawing a trench in the sand! On the week before, this was a fresh start for the Whirlwinds, we all knew what we needed to do to put things back on track. A visit from Barton Rovers, the perfect opportunity to show our newly found steel and determination.

It was Barton who started the game in the ascendancy, full of confidence after a last minute win the week before, and several new players added to their squad. A big side who play to their aerial strengths, it was a perfect test for the home team. In general they stood up fairly well, to the early bombardment. Barton’s real threat came from set pieces, their new striker twice sending headers just over the bar. Whirlwinds were playing on the counter attack, which suits them, with the pace they possess upfront, Billy was thundering in to challenges in midfield, Oliver an outlet down the right, clearly had the pace to cause panick in the home defence. The opening goal came from a counter attack, Archie now starting to dominate at the back won a header, Ajiri picked up the second ball and sent Oliver away down the right, he left his full back for dead, race towards the right hand side of the box and calmly squared for the oncoming Sam to side foot home 1-0.

It was slightly against the run of play, but wasn’t really a surprise, as the home team seemed to have the better attacking threat when they broke quickly. Barton responded by trying to catch Nathan out by pumping long chipped shots at him, he punched one from under the cross bar, watched three or four sail well over, and then another bounce back off the bar, although if on target he would have had it covered. Barton finally found a way through, Archie sliced a clearance, Nathan could only palm it into the path of a grateful Barton attacker to tuck in the net, on the balance of play deserved, 1-1. Now would be a test of the home sides mettle, and they responded well, Oliver again proving a threat down the right, Sam shooting just wide. The home side finished the half the stronger.

HT 1-1

A positive half time team talk, the effort level and commitment to the team spirit was back to where it should be, we just needed to move the ball quicker through midfield, to exploit the space in the wide areas.

Out both teams went for the second half, it was the home team who were now edging the possession, and as a result asking more questions of the Barton defence. Sam and Ajiri, played a quick combination down the left, which sent Ajiri in to the box, facing the ‘Keeper and covering defender, he feinted to go on his favoured left, which allowed enough room in the corner to slot in with his right foot 2-1. Barton responded with a great run down the right, the attacker drove in to the box, and shot past Nathan, Archie covering the near post, slid in and cleared off the line. From the resulting corner, the same attacker powered a header passed Nathan, this time to be frustrated by Jack C’s chest, another goal line clearance. Two pieces of fine defending, that kept the home side in front. At the other end Sam full of trickery was upended, centre of the pitch just outside the box. Billy stepped up a his powerful free-kick took a slight deflection off the end of the wall, with the ‘keeper flying to his left to get hand to it, and push wide. It wasn’t long before the home side added to the scoreline, Jake threading a ball through for Oliver to race clear of the defence and finish 3-1. The home side were now well in control, Barton’s response was to put their giant defender upfront and hit him early with long high balls, a tactic which has caught the home side out in previous games. However the home side stood firm, the highlight was Jack M half the size of the towering defender, out muscling him to win a header. The home side just about managed to keep them at arms length and see the game out.

FT 3-1

Scorers: Sam, Ajiri, Oliver

Summary: What a difference a week makes! Delighted with our effort and commitment and a real team spirit that came flooding back, in the words of our Captain “That was just like, how we used to play”. We need to keep that desire going forward and polish our football a little.

M.O.T.M: There were some super performances today, the whole of the defence worked incredibly hard, nice to see our front three all scoring, Jake gave tiring midfielders legs a real boost with his energy when coming off the subs bench in the second half. Billy was a machine in the centre of midfield, however we had a colossus at the back today in the form of Archie, he gets this weeks award.

Cup – Home To Sundon Athletic

Final round of the league cup mini league, saw Sundon Athletic visit a sun drenched Crawley Road.

Missing a few players including the goalkeeper, a formation change and a revert to a three at the back for the home side, with a game plan to try and nullify the opposition. Sundon started as we thought they would, on the front foot, the home team though standing firm and trying to counter attack whenever they could. Sundon were growing more and more frustrated, and gradually Whirlwinds started to launch forward on more occasions. A throw-in just inside their half on the right saw Oliver roll his marker, and burst down the right, approaching the box, he cut in drew two defenders to the front post, to square perfectly for the on coming Sam to smash home at the back post 1-0. Clearly now rattled, the Sundon coach increased his repertoire of swearing at his team. It got a whole lot worse as Billy picked up a loose ball, fed Ajiri in to the box, he side stepped and flicked past the ‘keeper in to the left hand corner of the goal 2-0.

The home team were now well on top and pressing the game to the opposition, who were launching long diagonal balls and trying to pick up the pieces, forcing a corner, which was well dealt with a defensive clearance, all the home team pushed up apart from one defender who walked out and played two attackers onside, a ball over the top was tapped in at the back post by a Sundon forward, with the rest of the home defenders twenty metres further up the pitch 2-1. The goal gave Sundon a lift, they upped there intensity, 5 minutes later, we got a action replay of the first goal, again the same defender walking out, when his team mates were 15 metres in front of him, playing three Sundon players on side, who had the time and freedom to calmly score the equaliser 2-2.

HT 2-2

A strange half time team talk, really positive in how we executed the game plan and got ourselves in to a healthy lead and clearly had the opposition rattled, then two lapses of concentration undid all the hard work. Second half we would need to up the intensity as our opponents knew they had got of jail, and would certainly show more intensity in the second half.

The second half got underway and it was the away side who were making all the running in the game, the home side not reaching anywhere near the levels they had in the first half. It was a barrage of attacking from Sundon, targeting in particular the left hand side and sending cross after cross in to the box. Sooner or later it was going to give, and they took the lead 10 minutes in, from a defensive slip 2-3. It was a hammer blow to home side, who had battled well until that point, in trying to keep the scores level, however not really offering an attacking threat. With confidence taking a hit, they quickly conceded a fourth, again a cross coming in to the box and finished off with precision 2-4. The problem was obvious, crosses weren’t being stopped, and it was all too easy for the away team to deliver balls in to the box. With five minutes left and home defenders looking battle weary, from the second half bombardment, a corner came in and was met with a towering header at the back post and in, 2-5.

FT 2-5

Scorers: Sam, Ajiri

Summary: A really positive first half where we showed great resilience, and then a threat going forward, it was just undone by two lapses of concentration, we must start to take personal responsibility and adapt and learn from individual errors, as they undid what was a great half by the team. Second half – well, we handed the opposition the initiative and they took full advantage, we had them on the ropes and almost out, but let them back in to it and then didn’t respond well enough.

M.O.T.M: It was difficult selection, as the second half over shadowed all the good we did the the first half, Oliver and Ajiri, Billy all had very good first halves, this weeks award goes to Sam who worked hard throughout the game and looked a creative threat throughout. A thank you to Archie who stepped in and went in goal for the game.

Cup – Away To Ampthill Town F.C

Spring had finally sprung, it was glorious morning with the freshly cut Ampthill pitches, bathed in early morning sunshine.

Whirlwinds, confidence restored with a friendly win the previous week, with a steely determination added to the team after the home humbling at the hands of today’s opponents. It was Ampthill who edged the opening stages of the game, not really creating anything chances, but they had the major share of possession. It took a while for the away side to get going, some early seeds of success were sown, with Oliver fed by Jake flying down the right flank to put a ball across the box, which just evaded the oncoming Ajiri. It bought a breath of life in to the away side, and they stepped up a gear, Brandon, Billy & Oakley now enjoying lots of possession in midfield, first to every ball and were pushing the whole team up the pitch. Sam fed Ajiri down the left, he pushed inside and squared to Oliver who squeezed the ball in at the far post 0-1. It was all the home side, again Oliver raced down the right and played inside to Ajiri, who delayed his shot and got the ball nicked off his toes as he was about to release. Ajiri was in the thick of the action, this time played straight through by Billy, raced clear of the defence, just as he was about to to slot past the ‘keeper, he received a push in the back and a clip of the heels, which sent him tumbling, as clear a penalty as you will see, but the referee, who to be fair had a dreadful game, waved play on.

Oliver was proving a real threat down the right, he wriggled away from two defenders in the corner, ran inside and played in to Ajiri, who’s shot was blocked, the ball bounced clear to edge of the box, to met by Billy who unleashed a thunderous shot in to the bottom left corner 0-2.

The away team were in complete control, passing the ball around the pitch with confidence and thundering in to challenges, Billy seemed to win everything in midfield, ably supported by the craft and creativity of Oakley & Brandon. Sam fed Ajiri down the left, he took it forward and looked up to spot Oliver’s back post run, he curled in a lovely shaped cross, which just evaded Oliver’s run. Attacking both flanks was causing havoc for the home side, who just couldn’t cope with the pace and movement, Brandon pulling the strings in midfield, combined with Sam for the latter to break clear of the defence, he drove in the box, and as he turned inside his legs were taken away by a recovering defender, the Referee took a moment and pointed to the spot, a conversation between Sam and Brandon saw the latter step up, he smoothly side footed the ball in to the right hand corner 0-3. The away side continued to press home their dominance but couldn’t quite add to their tally before half time.

HT 0-3

It was as good a first half as we have put together this season, however, with the wind behind them in the second half, we knew we would face an aerial bombardment, we needed to better in the second half than we were in the first to see the game through.

Second half kicked off and straight away the tactic was obvious, launch the ball in to box at the earliest opportunity and hope for a mistake. The away defence stood firm for the first five minutes and thought perhaps they had weathered the storm, however they gave a free-kick away around 30 yards from goal, Ampthill player stepped up and hit high in to the air, the ball caught the wind and Nathan too far off his line, and sailed over his head and in to the net 1-3. The goal just reinforced the second half tactic of the home side, at every opportunity the ball was launched in to the box from every area of the pitch. They were mostly well dealt with the by the away side, and Ampthill really lacked any quality upfront to create anything, they were just relying on defensive errors. However it was at the other end that the best chances were coming, twice Sam was played through and with the ‘keeper advancing all it it needed was a little dink over the top, which we all know Sam has in his locker, but he took an extra touch and got squeezed out. Ajiri fired in to the side netting, Oliver glanced a header just over the bar from a corner. They finally increased their lead, Sam showed superb feet, turning four defenders who had surrounded him in the box inside and out, finally patience snapped and a swipe at his legs took them from under him, and the Referee had no choice but to once again point to the spot. This time Ajiri grabbed the ball, no debate, he stepped up and rifled it home 1-4.

The goal should have settled the away side, but they gave another free kick away around forty metres from goal, again the ball was launched high in to the box, it bounced and should have been comfortable enough catch for Nathan, but perhaps unsure of the bounce, he palmed it upwards and then failed to collect the ball, it was stabbed home by an Ampthill attacker, who looked a long way offside when the free kick came in, the flag stayed down and the goal was allowed 2-4. Oliver had a great chance to settle the nerves, some neat play by Sam and Ajiri down the left, and squared a pass to him, a little flick and turn and he was in on goal, 6 yards out a simple finish, but he just poked it wide. The away side should have really been out of sight, however they made life extremely difficult for themselves, again another high ball, which came down, hit a lump in the pitch and bounced over Thomas, still Jack C came round on the cover, but a moment of indecision and the striker nipped in front him and tapped past Nathan and in 3-4. It would have been a travesty if the home team got anything out of the game. The away just needed to get hold of the ball, not give any free kicks away, slow the game down and see it through to full time, all of which they did without any further threat to their goal.

FT 3-4

Scorers: Oliver,Billy, Brandon(P), Ajiri (P)

Summary: First half it was our best performance for a long time, we looked back to our best, and a complete contrast to the team we had seen just two weeks previously. Second half we didn’t respond well enough to the oppositions long ball tactics, and to compound, didn’t make enough of our own chances and made life extremely difficult for ourselves. We must react better when the opposition reverts to hoofing long balls. But all in all we are still on an upward curve and very happy with the way we played, and our effort and determination was spot on, just need to try and cut out the small individual defensive errors.

M.O.T.M

There were some very good performances today, Oliver looked back to his best, Ajiri had is best game for a long time, Sam was busy and creative, Jake continues to make great progress, Oakley and Brandon both had fantastic first halves. This week’s award goes to Billy, who was a wall in midfield and scored a cracker of a goal.

Cup – Away To Sundon Athletic

After a whole week of heavy rain, the pitch at Luton had held up well. It was slightly on the narrow side, not really suited to the away side, who like to play with some width.

Sundon started the game in the ascendance, however the away side, were well organised, compact in midfield and defence, much to the annoyance of the home team, who despite having lots of possession couldn’t work a clear cut opening. They were restricted to long range shots, long throws and the odd corner. None of which caused too much trouble for the Whirlwinds, who seemed happy enough to soak up the pressure and play on the counter attack.

Sundon are an athletic physical side, gradually a few of the away side started to try and match them, Brandon and Billy starting to play like terriers in midfield, getting in and around there opponents and making life a little more uneasy for them. The away side had a good shout for a penalty denied, Sam being shoved to the floor, the defender making no attempt to play the ball, to be fair it could have gone either way, depending on how you looked at it. It was a very tight first half, with the Whirlwinds were much in the game.

HT 0-0

Second half started in the same pattern as the first, however a defensive lapse with three players not pushing out allowed an attacker time and space in the box, to slot his shot past Nathan 1-0. It was a body blow, and all that hard work of the first half had been undone by a lapse in concentration.

Whirlwinds needed to push forward more, and so they did, Sam and Jack D combining well, for the latter just fail to get past the recovery tackle. A switch to 3-5-2 to try and get more bodies in forward positions, seemed to have the desired effect as the Whirlwinds started to gain a bit more territory and offer more of a threat. A long ball over the top from Sundon, caught the away defence slightly high, it skimmed a defenders head, ‘GK hesitated to come out, racing through the attacker got to the ball first, Thomas made a superb last ditch challenge, unfortunately for him the ball popped out of the tackle kindly, for the attacker to knock it past Nathan 2-0. Nathan was then called in to action again, making a blocking save, the away team chasing the game had thrown too many bodies forward. Five minutes to go Ibu took a heavy knock to the head and immediately went down, fortunately the Referee stopped the game immediately. After several minutes of attention, he had recovered enough to be helped from the pitch and off to A&E with a suspected concussion.

FT 2-0

Summary: After what seems like months of lack lustre displays, it was much improved today, there was a good team spirit, and a willingness to work hard for the team. We probably lacked a little bit of inventiveness going forward, and if were honest never really threatened to score. However it was an attritional type of game and neither side really created much,  the lack of space on the pitch not helping free flowing football.

Thankfully Ibu was discharged from hospital after a few hours of monitoring, and is on the mend.

M.O.T.M: There was some good displays today, Thomas was asked to lead the defence and he did a really good job. Brandon was busy and neat with the ball in midfield, this weeks award goes to Billy, who stood up to the physical test in the centre of midfield and gave the team an example to follow.