Squad: Mikey, Jack E (Capt), Keiran, Kian, Luca, Joe, Benji, Alex, Louie
An early start for a trip to Wokingham prove fruitful for the boys, winning their first three group games, and then finishing with two draws to finish second in the group. It meant a semi final that no-one wanted against a visiting German side, history didn’t repeat itself with a resounding 3-0 win.
On to the final, a goal after few minutes, a lovely flick by Louie was calmly slotted home by Alex, after that they controlled the tempo of the game with our guest GK Mikey never really troubled, it was as comfortable 1-0 win as you will see.
Well done boys !!
It was a sunny afternoon with a brisk wind, pitch nicely covered in grass but with a real slope from right to left.
The game got underway with with the home team going downhill with the wind behind them, with conditions in their favour Houghton made the early play, happy to launch plenty of longer balls and try and put the Hurricanes under pressure. A defence which was outstanding the previous week looked a little wobbly, a few mistimed clearances and failure to clear first time, had the away supporters hearts in mouths, however Houghton couldn’t take advantage of their early dominance.
Gradually the Hurricanes started to feel their way in the game, getting hold of the ball midfield and launching some attacking foray’s the game had more of an even feel about it. Hougton had good chance to take the lead, again some nervy defending allowed a shot which Hayden did well to parry away low to his right. It had a positive effect on Houghton as the piled on the pressure, again a defensive error presented a half chance but the shot was weak and straight at Hayden. At the other end, Benji played a lovely ball to Louie who took the ball in his stride and fired a powerful shot with his left foot, which clipped the top of the bar and went behind for a goal kick. It signaled a good spell for home team, Benji an attacking force in the game, chipped a ball over the top for Louie, the defender grabbed his arm and then his shirt to pull him back and the keeper gathered, it looked a certain penalty but neither the Referee or his assistant seemed to have spotted the infringement. The Hurricanes defence seemed to have settled their nerves and as the half came to an end Houghton were restricted to just a few long range shots, none of which troubled Hayden.
A positive half time team talk, we had survived some early pressure and eventually settled in to the game, with the slope of the pitch and wind behind us in the second half, we felt the game was ours for the taking.
Second half kicked off and it was the Hurricanes in ascendance, putting the pressure on the home defence, who were having the same problems as the away did in the first half. Hurricanes spent the first ten minutes of the half on the front foot, Houghton were now offering hardly any attacking threat. A throw from the right hand side of the box from Alex, was flicked on by Louie, Joe got his body in front of the defender and headed it back to Louie to smash home from 6 yards out 0-1. Hurricanes had a deserved lead and were looking to finish things off, Benji causing havoc in the second half with his balance and quick feet, danced through two challenges, played to Joe who side footed first time for the oncoming Louie centre of goal 10 yards out he lent back and ballooned the ball over the bar, it was great chance to kill the game off. Houghton were starting to cut a frustrated bunch, the back four of Marley, Jack E, Keiron and Aaron, all working hard to snuffle out any threat, all they had to offer was a couple of long range shots. With fifteen minutes left they switched to a back three and added an extra forward. It opened the game up and it was the Hurricanes who looked like they would add to their lead, isolating defenders in 1 v 1 situations, they had several opportunities to put the game out of sight, but just chose the wrong option on two or three occasions.
So it all comes down to the last minute, Houghton having one final push throwing bodies forward, a cross comes in and Alex skews his clearance out for a corner. The resulting corner saw every player on the pitch in the away teams 18 yard box, the corner was sent over, a Houghton player got a head to it at the front post, the net bustled, a cheer went up from the home supporters………… and then Houghton players dropped to their knees as they knew it had just hit the side netting, the Referee blew the final whistle much to the relief of the away supporters and team.
Summary: It was a typical semi final, nervy and edgy. We weathered some pressure for 15 minutes in the first half, settled in to the game and showed some resilience. Second half we were much more in control and had some opportunities to increase the lead, and fully deserved the win.
M.O.T.M: There were some excellent performances today, Hayden made a really good save in the first half and was clean in his handling all game, all of the defence and midfield recovered from a wobbly start to impose themselves on the game, Marley in particular doing exceptionally well playing at this level, but this weeks award goes to Benji, who caused the opposition all sorts of problems and kept us on the front foot in the second half.
Quarter final of the cup, saw the Hurricanes go to Flitwick as Bow Brickhill was double booked. The hottest day of the year so far with temperatures of 70+ degrees, it was going to be a difficult afternoon for both sides.
The game got underway and it was immediate to see that the Hurricanes weren’t their normal selves, pass after pass went astray, on a small pitch, and with Flitwick pressing all over the pitch, making things even more frustrating for the Hurricanes. Louie fired a shot just wide, at the other end the Hurricanes defence was struggling to judge the bounce of the ball on a bone dry hard pitch, on a couple of occasions offering the Flitwick strike force a sight of goal before making last ditch clearances. 15 minutes gone, the deadlock was broken, Jack E made a firm defensive clearance just outside his own penalty area, the ball went over the head of the Flitwick defence, Louie chased after the turning defender, and on the ball’s second bounce nipped in front and cutely chipped over the advancing keeper 0-1. Luca then pushed an effort just wide. Benji shot just over, Louie then forced an outstanding triple save from the Flitwick keeper, who was having the game of his season. At the other end Jack E after being caught out by the bounce of a long ball, just managed to get a toe to the ball as the Flitwick striker lined up to shoot.
Hurricanes finally added some breathing space, Luca sliding in Louie for him to shoot low past the ‘keeper 0-2. They dominated the latter stages of the half, but promising positions were wasted, with passes going astray at crucial moments, the Flitwick keeper continued to frustrate pulling off another couple of fine saves.
Half time and a chance to get some well needed fluids on board, the team cut a frustrating bunch, they knew they hadn’t played well, surely they couldn’t be as bad in the second half could they?
In to the second half and it was much of the same, loose passes in key areas, failure to read the bounce of long balls, Flitwick working hard to close any space down. They then found a lifeline, a long range looping shot looked comfortable catching practice for Hayden, but he seemed to miss judge his position, and the ball sailed over his head and in 1-2. At the other end a neat move found Benji free on the edge of his box, his shot was a little tame and straight at the ‘keeper. A move down the right with Jack F playing a clever ball to Louie who moved the ball inside to the oncoming Luca, with the goal gaping his shot went inches wide. It felt like a goal was coming, it was Benji who provided the finishing touch, Louie doing some great work on the edge of the box to find Benji just inside the box, this time he gave the ‘keeper no chance, and shot in to the top left hand corner 1-3. Louie then had a great chance to put the game out of sight, put through one on one with the ‘keeper, his shot was well saved by the keepers outstretched leg. Benji then went on an almost full length of the field run, only to be scythed down, Louie took the resulting free kick and just shot wide. Benji was enjoying his spell of the game, set free down the left, he cut inside the box and fired in a curling shot which came back off the under side of the bar, bouncing down on the line.
The game should have been out of sight, however some calamitous defending by the Hurricanes, with bodies falling over legs, and the ball broke to a Flitwick player to poke past Hayden 2-3. Still 15 minutes remained on the clock, and Flitwick sniffed an opportunity to at least take the game to penalties. They had a good chance with the ball breaking to a player, centre of goal 15 yards out, but he blasted high and wide. At the other end Louie broke free, hit a powerful shot at the ‘keeper who pulled of another good save, the ball rebounded to Louie, who couldn’t adjust properly, but did manage to a get a knee on the ball, again it hit the underside of the bar and bounced down on the line and was cleared. Ethan then flashed a header wide, at the opposite end, Flitwick had two long range shots that sailed over the bar. It was a nervy last few minutes, with the Hurricanes creating one or two half chances, before the Referee brought the game to a close.
Scorers: Louie (2), Benji
Summary: Bit of a frustrating performance, some neat play at times was let down with wayward passes in the final third. The heat made it difficult, but we let our standards slip a little. Still it’s important to try and win games when your not playing well, and we move on the the semi final for what will be a much sterner test.
M.O.T.M: Plenty of players did good things at times within the game, Benji had a really good spell in the second half, Louie took both his goals really well, Jack E had his best game for a while, Jack F was neat and tidy in possession. This weeks award goes to Aaron who literally worked his socks off in defence, and then found the energy as well to get forward when he could.
Top of the table clash, final game for the home side who needed a win to secure the league title, Hurricanes with a game in hand knew a win would also give them a league title, however a draw would give them the opportunity to win their final game to finish top of the table. A warm sunny afternoon, it was all set up………
Totternhoe got the game underway, immediately early nerves were evident, with the home defender taking a nervy swipe at the ball sending it skewing out of play. Hurricanes sensed the home side’s nerves and pressed in numbers, the first few minutes it was the away side who were running the game. Totternhoe’s tactics were clear, pack the midfield and launch long balls up to their striker. Hurricanes defence were in no mood to give him an inch, every time the ball was launched forward they were first too it, snuffing out any danger.
At the other end our 50 goal striker was having a frustrating time, again the home defence not giving an inch and deploying three defenders on him every time he received the ball. They were however getting in some good positions in the box, but too often their final ball let them down. Alex sent two delightful free kicks curling in to great areas, but some desperate defending denied any goal scoring opportunity.It was a tight game, Hurricanes the better side, but with both defences on top, chances were few and far between. Half an hour gone, Louie, Ethan and Benji combined with the latter wriggling free in the box, he was then upended by a lunging tackle, it looked a clear penalty, all eyes turned to the Referee but he waved play on, the look on Totternhoe’s defenders faces, told all you needed to know, that they had got away with that one. It was a first half lesson in defending with neither team managing to register a shot on target.
Half time team walk, was fairly positive, we had looked the better side, completely nullified any opposition attacking threat, but we need to add a bit more quality to our build up play, and be more incisive in the last third of the pitch.
Hurricanes kicked off the second half, the game followed much the same pattern of the first, passes going astray from both sides, benefiting of a little wind a slight slope of the pitch, the home team tested the Hurricanes defence early on, with some high balls, twice the Hurricanes defence allowed the ball to bounce, which gave their striker a sniff of a breakthrough, but it was quickly snuffed out by a covering full back. Instructions from the side line not to allow the ball to bounce were adhered too, and the next couple of long balls were met with defensive headers. It allowed the Hurricanes to get back on top, Luca sending a curling shot inches wide, it took a slight nick off a defender which was key to it not nestling in to the bottom corner. The game was starting to open, up, Benji and Joe played a quick combination down the left, Joe played in to Louie, who’s skewed an attempted half volley, the ball broke to Ethan, 4 yards out back post, goal gaping, he shot, it hit the inside of the post, rolled across the goal line hit the other post and and span out for a goal kick! Heads were in hands, in disbelief as to how it never went in.
Hurricanes were now sensing a goal was coming, tiring legs in midfield were giving them more space, a hack from the opposition at Benji resulted in a yellow card. In the next action Benji was upended 25 yards out, he had been given some ‘special attention’ in the game, which perhaps the Referee could have stamped out earlier in the game. Benji took the resulting free-kick, which was palmed away by the ‘keeper. Another penalty claim was denied as Louie nudged a header to break free from his marker and in on goal, only to be flattened by a push in the back, again another clear enough penalty that wasn’t given. The home side offered little threat now going forward, they just couldn’t find any way through or round the away defence. Alex took a throw level with edge of the box, it came back to him, closely attended by two defenders, with a bit of skill he wriggled free, breaking in the the box, he drew two defenders too him, and slid a low ball to Louie, who had lost his marker and from eight yards he side footed in to the roof of the net 0-1.
Just seven minutes remained, and it was time to stand firm. Totternhoe, were like a wounded animal, they came out fighting, and found some energy to launch a couple of attacks, again the home defence stood firm. With just four minutes left they went down the right, again plenty of defensive cover, the ball broke back to the left winger, who from the edge of the box, he crossed in to the box, completely over hit, it curled in to the top corner of the net 1-1. It was a bit of luck and their first ‘shot’ of the game, wasn’t really fair on the away side who had been the better team in both halves. Just a few minutes left it was the Hurricanes who went out to win the game, Alex swung the ball in, the ‘keeper who hadn’t been tested enough flapped at the ball, Joe and Louie both closed in, but couldn’t quite get a touch as the ‘keeper lunged and fell on the ball. Finally the Referee blew the final whistle, much to the relief I think to the away supporters!
Summary: It was a nervy affair, we didn’t pass the ball well enough or quick enough throughout the game, understandably nerves played a part. However we worked incredibly hard as a team, the defence in particular were all outstanding, a shame we couldn’t put it to bed today, however we got the result we needed.
M.O.T.M: As a tough a decision as there has been all season, usually we are purring about the quality of our attacking players with midfielders and forwards topping the list. However today was all about the strength of our back line, Aaron, Jack E, Kian & Keiron, any could have won the award as all were completely outstanding. Goals win games but defences win titles, and today our defence put us in a great position to win the league. Difficult to pick one out, but at a push it was our Captain who led from the front, so this weeks award goes to Jack E.
The final league game of the season for the Hurricanes, needing a win to secure the Divisional Title. The sun shone at Sandy for the start of the league campaign and it was fitting after a grey start to the day it returned in the afternoon to Bow Brickhill.
After being on the end of a thumping in the first game, Ampthill’s approach to the game was one of caution, not throwing bodies forward, packing the defence and midfield, trying to the close the space and make themselves as compact as possible. Hurricanes were enjoying 80% of the possession but just couldn’t find a way through. Ten minutes in, Benji fed Louie just inside the right hand side of the box, one touch out of his feet and then a sublime left foot angled strike which nestled in the top right hand corner 1-0. Nerves settled the home team wanting to put the game to bed, Louie again in the thick of the action, a shot came back off the keeper, hit his knee, rebounded off the inside of the right hand post and trickled across the line. He then punched a header inches wide, skewed a couple of efforts wide of the mark, we have been so used to the net bustling this season with almost every strike, it was a frustrating afternoon for the striker. Alex then sent a cross in, slightly over hit, it thumped off the top of the bar. Finally a second came, Luca’s shot was just going wide, but Louie managed to get an outstretched toe, to poke past the ‘Keeper 2-0. Hurricanes huffed and puffed with lots of possesion but a lack of quality and width in the last third, they were unable to add to the score, at the other end Hayden was a bystander, not an effort to save.
A bit of a dressing down at half time, we spoke at the beginning of the game about how width was important and we hadn’t offered it enough, we were being to hungry to score goals and not concentrated on the basic play to enable us to create space and thus goal scoring opportunities.
Second half got underway, the pattern of the first half continued, Ampthill in damage limitation mode, not wanting to offer any attacking threat and open the game up. The home side were finally playing with some width and as a consequence, were creating lots of chances, regretfully it seemed the whole team were misfiring as chance after chance went begging. It was pointed out from the touchline, that it was the white thing in the middle they should be aiming for, as most seemed to have forgotten! Finally a third was added, Louie breaking down the right and playing inside for Ethan, his first strike hit a defender, the broke again and then second hit the keeper, ricocheted off a covering defender, Ethan followed up and a scramble on the line saw the ball hit the roof of the net, who knows who got the last touch, but Ethan claimed it 3-0.
Benji was sent on from the subs bench, with a message to bring in some quality and end product to a messy game. A couple of minutes of being on the pitch, Joe pushed a ball through for him to advance towards goal, centre of the pitch just outside the box, he launched a powerful shot in to the top right hand corner 4-0. With just 5 or 6 minutes left Amtphill decided to try and go forward, they put two strikers upfront and got a reward with a corner, it was the first time in the game they had even got in the last third of the pitch, the corner came in, half clearance a bounce of the ball hit a waving Hurricanes hand, and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. Ampthills player stepped up and nonchalantly despatched the penalty giving Hayden no chance 4-1. The game then just drifted to a close, the final whistle brought a roar from the home support as the league title was secured.
Scorers: Louie (2), Ethan, Benji
Summary: It wasn’t our best performance of the season, and one really the team expected to win comfortably, it was just one of the games we needed to get through and secure the win we needed. I felt we were a little arrogant in the first half, almost expecting to win, we created lots of chances and on another day would have double figures, hopefully we are saving them all for next week!
M.O.T.M: Difficult one today, no-one really played particularly well or badly just lots of average perfomances, and in the most we coasted through the game, this weeks award goes to Luca, who was his usual industrial self in midfield, played simply and just kept the ball moving.
Back to Bow Brickhill, thankfully the pitch had just about dried out, although still a little soft underfoot. A strong swirling wind provided difficult conditions for the game.
Hurricanes showed their intentions early, Ethan charging down the right and his clipped cross just to high for Louie. A corner from the right and again, just slightly high for Louie skimming off his head and out. The breakthrough came, Alex playing a perfectly weighted ball through to Louie, who calmly fired past the goalkeeper 1-0. They soon doubled their lead, Louie turning provider, for Ethan to score 2-0. Louie was then desperately unlucky a bit of skill to get past an opponent and then a 20 yard shot which thundered back off the inside of the post. The away side had hardly seen any of the ball and when they did, it was generally launched in to the air. The conditions were starting to stifle the game, over hit balls catching the wind and going out of play, it was a proving a frustrating game for the home side, who were struggling to play their usual flowing football. The home team did manage to add a third, a corner by Alex was met on the half volley by Louie at the back post 3-0. Joe finding lots of space on the left, skipped past his marker and in the box, but could only fire in to the side netting, Alex fired over the bar and Louie sent a couple of shots just wide of the post.
Half time team talk for the home side, was a bit of a ticking off, we weren’t handling the conditions well and needed just to simplify our game in the middle third of the pitch. The space was in the wide areas of the pitch and we need to get the balls out to wide players with greater speed than we had been doing.
Second half and the wind seemed to have picked up even more, Kempston were awarded a free-kick about 40 yards out on the left of the pitch. Free kick was punched in, caught by the wind, it sailed over Hayden’s head and in 3-1. Hayden then pulled off a fine save, as Kempston, momentarily threatened to get back in to game.
The home team responded to the set back by adding a fourth, Louie the provider for Alex to shoot in to the bottom corner from the edge of the box 4-1. Kempston had pushed three men upfront with a tactic of lumping the ball forward and hoping for a defensive mistake, given the conditions, not a bad tactic. But it did allow the home team more space in midfield, and they took full advantage with Louie adding four more goals in a blistering 10 minute spell, assisted ably by Oscar, Benji, Alex and Ethan. The pick of the goals was a sweeping move, Hayden rolled out to Jack F, who played it in to Luca, who moved it on to Alex, he found Benji out on the left with a peach of a pass, Benji controlled and played the ball through to Louie, who drilled it home, 20 seconds of ‘total football’ 8-1. Ethan had been a constant menace down the right, beat two defenders and charge in the box, his shot was parried by the Goalkeeper, Andrew just beat Jack E to it and smashed the ball in from a yard out, in doing so was the teams 13th different scorer this season, 9-1.
Scorers: Louie (6), Ethan, Alex, Andrew
Summary: It was a difficult day to play football, but we didn’t play the conditions particularly well in the first half. Second half we did much better, and overall it was a good performance.
M.O.T.M: There were some very good performances today, Alex with a goal and three assists, Louie with a double hatrick, Jack F had his best game in claret & blue, this weeks award goes to Ethan, offered us real width throughout the game and worked hard for the team, even when out of possession.
It was blustery afternoon, with the pitch looking great with, having not been played on for 6 weeks, but infact was quite boggy in places.
The game kicked off with the wind blowing in to the home sides faces, Flitwick started well and were competitive all over the pitch, helped by the wind, some long balls were turning the home defence, with willing runners ready to pounce on any mistake. The home side were struggling, passes going astray, second best in the 50/50’s and a real lack of width, making the game more compact in the middle third of the pitch. Ten minutes in, Flitwick took the lead, a ball in the channel of the left hand side of the box, was picked up, the attacker was allowed to turn inside and cross in to the box, it caught the wind and curled over Hayden in to the far right corner, a tad fortunate, but at this point in the game Flitwick deserved to be in front 0-1.
The goal had the effect of rattling the home side, Benji and Louie combined around the edge of the oppostion’s penalty area, it opened up nicely for Benji to shoot, his side footed effort just curling a metre wide. The same two combined a few mintues later, this time Louie running the right channel, squared in to the box for Benji, he chose to shoot a tight angle at the near post, instead of squaring to Joe who stood in front of an empty net, his shot was easily saved by the ‘keeper. The next move saw the equaliser finally arrive, Louie burst down the right, leaving the defenders in his wake and squared to Alex to fire home 1-1. After a real sluggish start, the home side were now in full flow, they quickly edged in to the lead, with Louie again the provider for Joe to side foot in, 2-1. Hurricanes then put themselves in full control of the game. Benji, playing in Oscar on the left hand side of the penalty area with not much movement in to the box, he chose a speculative shot which nestled in to the top left hand corner 3-1.
With the game under control, the home side started to over play in areas of the pitch they shouldn’t, combined with a lack of desire to help defending, an opportunity presented itself to the away team which they gleefully accepted 3-2. The goal gave Flitwick a sniff of getting back in to the game, now playing with much more endeavour than the home side, they deservedly drew level, an innocuous free-kick 10 yards in the half, was hoisted in to the box, a run across a defender by his own team mate, confused a simple clearance, and the ball bounced and past the stranded Hayden in to the corner of the net 3-3. Shortly after the Referee blew the whistle for half time, and the home side trudged in to the changing rooms.
Not quite the hairdryer treatment at half time, but the team was left in no doubt, that the lack of effort and team work in the first half was not acceptable.
Sent out to put things right in the second half, the home side started well enough, however Flitwick had the wind in their sails and were probably slightly edging the opening exchanges, but neither team really caused any substantial threat to the oppositions goal. Gradually the home side started to take the upper hand, they were enjoying lots of possession, but Flitwick were proving a tough nut to crack, playing deep and compact, and now looking like they would happily accept a draw if offered to them. Louie went close with a shot just wide, a cross from the right was just missed by Joe’s outstretched boot. The home side were knocking on the door, but were certainly not knocking it down. Again a theme of over elaboration with the ball in unproductive areas, was the major factor behind not being able to create a clear goal scoring opportunity, any space left by the packed Flitwick defence, was quickly closed by recovering midfielders.
With ten minutes to go, a corner from the right was half cleared to Ethan on the edge of the box, with no room to turn, he passed sideways to Alex, who whacked it first time across the goalkeeper and in to the right corner of the goal 4-3. On the balance of play probably deserved, but slightly harsh on Flitwick who had dug deep in the second half and put up a real fight to stay in the game. Home team players were encouraged to up their effort level, to ensure that any sign of a Flitwick comeback was quickly quashed, and they responded, keeping the ball well, they got another corner on the left, the ball fell to Luca, who’s heavy touch ran in to Louie’s path and he looped a shot in the net 5-3. With just a few minutes left, the home side kept possession and control to kill the game off.
Scorers: Alex (2), Joe, Oscar, Louie
Summary: It was a disappointing performance, we said at the beginning of the season, our aim was to improve with every game, but this was a real regression, by far our worst display of the season. A lack of effort in the warm up, drifted in to the start of the game, after falling behind, we pulled ourselves back to a comfortable enough lead. Then a real lack of effort, and some players continually over playing, allowed the opposition to claw their way back in the game. Second half we were a little nervy, and found it difficult to get in to a rhythm of play. However we dug in and found a way to win, which was the only real positive we could take from the game.
Very few emerged with much credit today, and many had an off day, we can’t always play at our best, but it’s no excuse for not putting 100% effort in. It was a day when all the defenders had to work extra hard, having not been given much support from their team mates, the pick of the bunch was Aaron, who can never be accused of not putting the effort in, and today gave much more than several of his team mates put together.
A grey damp afternoon in Dunstable, on a surface that was described in a pre-match chat, “as a great surface for Rugby”. A step up in class for the Hurricanes facing a team at the top end of the division above.
The game started fairly evenly, what was evident from the start was Dunstable were a little quicker to the loose ball’s in the midfield, which was allowing them to get good possession in the middle third of the pitch. A well drilled home defence, holding a tight high line, coupled with an assistant Referee who’s flag was in a permanently half raised position, was proving a frustration for the front three, with Louie in particular being caught offside, more times than he had touched the ball.
With around fifteen minutes in, Dunstable took the lead, a spell of pressure led to a moment of hesitancy in the Hurricanes back line which was duly punished 1-0. The goal prompted a good spell from the away team, they carved out three of four really good attacks, but unusually their final ball let them down when trying to create a goal scoring opportunity. The offside ‘trap’ was still working well and proving infinitely more frustrating for the attacking threesome, and infuriating for their coach on the sidelines! Hayden then pulled off a fine save, diving down to his left, to get a a strong hand on a shot that would have nestled in the bottom corner. For the first time in the half, Louie managed to breach the offside trap, and get just in front of the back tracking defender, but his flicked lobbed finish sailed just wide of the target. Dunstable then went forward and doubled their lead, a clever reverse pass, caught two defenders in no man’s land, and the resulting cross was stabbed home despite a lunging attempt to keep it out 2-0. Hurricanes huffed and puffed but weren’t able to grab a goal to get back in the game, our striker offered a seat on the subs bench, to view from the sidelines the effectiveness of the oppositions back line, and discuss a tactic of how to break it.
An unusual half time team talk for us, two goals down, how do we stop them scoring more? More importantly how do we resolve being second best in midfield, and how do we beat the offside trap? After a frank and passionate discussion, Benji was asked to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ and play central midfield to show how to increase the intensity, and some coaching advice on how to be more productive going forward, was taken on board.
It was a much brighter start to the second half, Benji was full of drive and aggression in midfield, ably accompanied by Joe and Luca who were following his example, the Hurricanes certainly looked more than a match for their opponents, Louie now timing his runs better was looking a real threat. However it was Dunstable who carved out the first opportunity, but Hayden in great form proved equal to a dipping half volley and at full stretch tipped it round the post. The resulting corner was cleared, to mid way through the half, a lobbed pass back in, was headed back towards the centre of goal and this time the half volley was perfectly executed and beyond Hayden’s reach, 3-0.
A devastating blow for the away team who had been the better side for the opening 10 minutes of the half. A couple of heads went down, but were quickly picked up by the rest of the team, a sense of team pride kicked in, and the Hurricanes rallied themselves. They thundered in to challenges, passed the ball with precision and attacking intent, they were dominating the game and got their reward, a through ball from Benji, was picked up by Louie he charged at the last defender, turned him inside out and smashed a shot from the edge of the box in the top right hand corner, 3-1. Belief and passion now running through their veins, it was all the away side, Louie skipped past two defenders down the right and sent a low cross in the box for the onrushing Oscar, who met it first time, six yards out and straight at the goalkeeper, with the goal at his mercy. The next attack saw the same pair combine, this time down the left, Louie glided past a defender in to the box and approaching the next defender slipped it sideways, for the underlapping Oscar to whack it across the ‘Keeper in the top corner 3-2.
Game on! Hurricanes were flying, Louie sent a shot just wide, Dunstable’s first half swagger was firmly stamped out. Oscar was enjoying himself down the left, ably assisted by Benji & Joe, he was a real threat and causing the Dunstable defence a real headache, again he latched on to through ball, delivered a cross which was clearly handled by the centre back, the Ref waved to play on, Oscar again picked the ball up and slipped it in to Louie, who in the box stepped round a defender who responded with a two footed lunge from behind, there was no decision to make for the Referee, he pointed straight to the spot. Benji put the ball on the spot and stepped up, his penalty went to the ‘keepers right, and although well placed,it didn’t have enough power and the ‘keeper guessed correctly and made a one handed save, Oscar was quickest to react and got to the ball first, a yard out and with the ‘keeper scrambling to block, he somehow managed to blast the ball a yard over the bar! There were a few distraught faces, with less than ten minutes to go, it felt that the dramatic comeback had ran it’s course.
Dunstable knew they had a lifeline and responded by going on the attack, a miss clearance had hearts in mouths of the home defence, but Kian quickly made amends and crunched into a tackle, coming away with the ball, he ran in to the space evacuated by Dunstable’s midfield, and slipped a ball through to Louie who was attacking the right channel. He went past one defender, beat the second with a trick, advanced in to box and cut the ball back to the unmarked Luca, who was calmness personified in his side foot shot, which despite the Dunstable ‘keeper getting a hand to it, saw the ball nestle in the bottom corner 3-3. With just a minute or so left surely that was it? To their credit Dunstable were not prepared to let the ‘upstarts’ from the division below go and win the game, and it was the home side who drove forward, a lapse of concentration gave them too much space in midfield and the attacker was given time and space to shoot, it wasn’t the cleanest strike and it aided the spin of the ball as it bounced and just evaded Hayden’s despairing dive and in to the bottom corner 4-3. A heartbreaking end to the game for the away side who could hold their heads high on a spirited come back of almost epic proportions.
Scorers: Louie, Oscar, Luca
Summary: We just didn’t quite get to grips with the speed and intensity of the game in the first half, probably a two goal lead flattered the home side a little but they certainly took advantage of defensive mistakes. After conceding a third against the run of play, the response was truly magnificent. For 25 minutes they showed passion, hunger, desire, courage and skill and rightfully fought their way back in the game. Conceding a last minute goal was not what their efforts deserved, they should be immensely proud of themselves.
M.O.T.M: A hard day to single out individuals, it was real team spirit that dragged them back in to the game, Hayden made two crucial saves. Benji, Oscar and Joe were outstanding in the second half, but this weeks award goes to Louie, a goal and two assists put the frustrations of the first half behind him, in a superb second half display.
Heavy rain during the week, made our usual home pitch at Bow Brickhill unplayable, so a change of venue to Aspley Guise Common, for the first round of the League Cup. We were welcomed prior to the game, to a couple of very heavy downpours, and then a hail storm. Fortunately the wind blew it over fairly quickly, and the game kicked off under cloudy grey skies, with the occasional beam of sunshine.
Our opponents, had seen twenty goals past them in our two previous league games, so were understandably very cautious, playing five at the back and two holding midfielders, a wall of orange in and around their penalty area. Hurricanes were enjoying lots of possession, the majority of which in the opposition half. However finding space on a slightly narrower pitch than they are accustomed too, was proving difficult. The away side offered no threat whatsoever, their tactic to launch long balls to the speedy striker, was exactly what the home side expected, so they defended a low line and denied any space in behind. A lovely move down the right with Louie laying off to Alex, Alex then played down the side to Ethan who whipped a low cross level with the six yard box, Joe arrived with perfect timing to side foot the ball towards goal, but unfortunately it thumped off the post and rebounded to safety. A couple of minutes later, the same pair combined down the right, this time Alex delivered, the ball fizzed across the box, just evading Louie and Joe.
It had been a frustrating first half an hour for the home side, plenty of possession, but lacking the penetration to create too many clear cut chances, finally they broke the deadlock, the combination of Ethan & Alex had been the most productive down the right, Ethan rescuing what seemed like a lost cause, laying back to Alex who whipped a cross in the box for Louie, to side foot past the ‘keeper from 4 yards out 1-0. They quickly double their lead, this time created from the opposite side, Benji playing in Louie on the edge of the box, he skipped past one defender and released a shot, striking another defender on the back, looped up in the air, Louie reacted the quickest, smashing in on the half volley 2-0. To be fair to the away side, up until that point, they had fought for every ball and defended stoutly, but two goals behind, playing with effectively one up front, finding a way back in to the game looked an impossible task.
Fairly positive half time team talk, with the opposition playing effectively seven at the back, we need our wide players to stay wide and drag them out, most of our success had come from wide areas, so we needed to exploit this.
Second half and despite being two goals down, the away side set up the same way, damage limitation seemed to be the order of the day. Unfortunately it fell apart early with Alex slotting in Louie to complete his hat trick, his eighth of the season 3-0. The away side had retreated a little, the striker now dropping much deeper, even taking the goal kick’s, which allowed the full back’s to get forward, Kieron in particular happy to push on, allowing Oscar to stay wide and stretch the defence, Louie broke down the right, crossed to the back post for Oscar at the back post, who connected well, just to see his shot hit the ‘keeper on the back and role across the line, a covering defender hacked clear. It didn’t matter too much as the next phase of play, Benji played Louie through and he shot across the ‘keeper who got a hand to it, but it had too much power and nestled in the bottom corner 4-0.
Benji was then desperately unlucky, his looping shot somehow tipped on to the bar by the ‘keeper. Louie then added his and the team fifth, Jack F squaring to him to score 5-0. The away team now decided to throw a little bit of caution to the wind went to four at the back, pushed a couple of midfielders forward and for the first time in the game with just ten minutes left offered a real attacking threat. They got their rewards, the dangerous striker, not being closed down quickly enough, but credit where it is due, he curled a 20 yard shot in to the top corner 5-1. It hurt the home team as they really wanted a clean sheet today, unfortunately not enough, as a couple of minutes later, the same striker was allowed as much time and space as he wanted and a full 25 yards from goal, he unleashed a shot albeit aided by the wind, sailing in to the top corner 5-2. The scoring wasn’t finished, the home team got a corner on the left, Oscar played it short to Alex, just outside the box, he shifted it right and smashed a shot across the goal in the left hand top corner 6-2. The referee then blew up to end, what was a frantic finish to the game.
Scorers: Louie (5), Alex
Summary: A comfortable enough game, the opposition made it hard for us, we will need to expect this more in the future, and be a little more clever within games to find a way through packed defences. Effort and team work was improved from the previous week, but still not quite where it should be, but progress at least.
Some good individual performances this week, Louie took his chances well, Jack E was calm and assured at the back, Alex & Ethan combined well. This weeks award goes to Kieron, excellent in his defensive work and was willing to push to allow forward players to get in and behind the defenders.