With a team pulling out in the week we tried effortlessly all week to find someone to replace them and just before we finally gave up, Heather Rangers stepped up. Not being from our league we were a little unsure of what we had signed up for but believed a game is a game and with our recent form, we didn't need to be afraid of anyone.
It was an incredibly hot day and with 4 absentees due to holiday commitments, it was always going to be tough..... and tough it was. Heather Rangers were clearly a well organised talented bunch having finished 4th in Burtons Division 1 but we encouraged the lads to give there all. When the whistle blew for half time we headed off the pitch 1-0 down. A great headed goal from a corner where there was very little we could have done to stop it. So far in my opinion, a fair result and we were still very much in the game and had everything to play for in the second half.
After a rousing team talk at half time from Brendan who was trying to get the very best out of each and every player we started off well and the lads had clearly listened to what we had been saying. A great goal once again by Connor who like I said last week, just seems to have this knack of being in the right place at the right time at the minute drew is level to 1-1 and things looked good. A special mention also must go to Kian for this goal aswell who set it up brilliantly using all his body strength to field off the opposition defender. Kian is improving week in week out and its clear that the more game time he has, the more his confidence is growing which is great to see.
The heat though started to prove too much for some of the players and although slightly unprecedented, a few of the lads started to actually ask to come off the field as they were simply too tired.
With only one sub on the bench this threw all good plans into disarray as players were now being asked to play out of position all over the park against a very good side and this simply proved too much in the end. The cracks soon started to appear and unfortunately so did the the goals.... For them !!
The match ended up with Heather Rangers comfortably winning 5-1 in the end.
Its easy to make excuses and say it was a hot day and we only had one sub but in reflection, it was hot for them also and they only had 2 subs so not much better than us. In my opinion over 70 minutes we were just slightly outplayed by a slightly fitter and more committed team. In all honesty though, although I feel they did deserve the win, I do feel 5-1 massively flattered them and for the majority of the match, they were in a real fight of a game.
Just like the players, both Brendan and I are always learning and had we played a lesser team yesterday, perhaps we would not have found out about some of the issues we face together as a team and that is exactly what these friendlies are all about. If the team are serious about wanting to not only enjoy there football but also improve as we go along, theres no doubt that we all must start to work on there fitness levels and there desire to actually be on the pitch not only when winning but also when the chips are down and the game is tough. The fitness is something perhaps Brendan and I need to focus there attention on at training over the next few weeks and this inevitably will get better now the short break we've had is over.
Anyway next week we are back to what should be our last friendly against similar standard opposition, with more available players to take off the strain from a few and hopefully a cooler day. Fingers crossed this will get us back to the winning ways we have become accustom to over the last couple of months.
Man of the match was tough this week and although a loss, there was some fantastic efforts in extreme weather conditions. The usual stand out players Shay, Harry, Ben and Archie all ran there socks off and all could have grabbed this today but Im going to give it to Reece who stepped in to help us out being short of a few players. His relentless running both on and off the ball was fantastic to see and he thoroughly earned his couple of pints of Coke at the pub after !!
See you all at training on Friday where the boys are sure to get some intensive fitness work outs which Im sure they're gonna love (not !!!) lol.....