Following a break which felt like its gone on forever, next in line today was Stapenhill. Going into this Stapenhill had lost 1 game in all competitive games over the last 2 years so we all knew this was always going to be a tough game where although not impossible, without trying to sound defeatist I felt today was more about damage limitation and trying to keep the lads spirits up for what we all hope will be a great season challenging at the top end of Division 3.
5 minutes in and we were 1-0 down by what can only be described as a fluke goal from a corner. How many times had he done that before, if I was a betting man i'd probably say never hence me using the word "fluke" !! Never the less, a goals a goal and this was not the start we had hoped for. If in any doubt, our players now realised they were in a serious game and if they didn't want embarrassing, they would have to dig deep.
I am pleased to say that dig deep they did, at the break we were 4-0 down. Brendan and I would normally be fuming at this but 4-0 flattered them in my eyes. Yes they were controlling the game and playing some good football but 3 out of the 4 goals had a massive element of luck involved and on another day, perhaps the scoreline could have been considerably less.
The second half we knew would be an uphill struggle, with us chasing the ball for the first half and knowing this would continue the chances are we would run out of steam and the floodgates would open. Not today though..... yes we chased the ball and yes we were outplayed in large parts but the floodgates never opened and nor did they look like they would. We would eventually lose 7-0.
Lets break this down..... we started the game slightly slow with the lads for some reason feeling slightly start struck at the thought of this game and we lost the first half 4-0 having conceded 3 goals which on another day may not have found there way into the back of the net. The second half was lost only 3-0. This was with tired legs and in a half where we hit the bar, got one cleared off the line and we made the keeper work. Stapenhill although comfortable winners in the end, knew they had been in a game. Lets not forget this is a team that beat one of their Division 1 opponents 10-1 only a few weeks ago in a league match.
We will not win them all and this game may have been one step too far at the minute but for me, if we are to not win, the manner in which we do not win is extremely important. Today, I am both pleased and proud to say this was excellent. When I first came to Chellaston and we were to go behind in a game I have to say that I noticed how the lads attitudes were not great to watch. Their heads would drop, arguments amongst each other would happen, players would actually ask to be subbed off and what could have been a narrow loss at worst, would turn into a heavy defeat. The way in which they conducted themselves today however was chalk and cheese from those days and should make each and every one of them (and us parents) extremely proud as it just shows how they have matured together and how greatly improved the team spirit is. This is what grassroots football is all about and its great to be a part of.......
Having lost 7-0 its hard to pick out anyone as a stand out man of the match however there were some notable performances. Harry yet again was excellent, he never stoped working and chasing the ball down, his shot hitting the bar was worthy of a goal and I was absolutely gutted for him that it didn't creep in, Tom tried and tried all game and made some critical tackles when needed, Jeevan after his "conversation" lol.... with Brendan early in the game was also outstanding but this week, I am going to give it to Will. Although he wasn't doing overhead kicks, volleys from the halfway line or scoring a hatrick, when he came on and had his chance to shine, in my eyes he was pretty much faultless. I cannot remember him actually doing anything wrong and playing in the back line, against a team of this stature, this is something to be applauded so well done to him. I'm pretty sure he's just pushed himself back into the starting line up for our next game in 2 weeks which is away to Toton because unbelievably although we have only played one league game when some teams have played six, we have no game scheduled for next week.
See you all in two weeks as I am away on holiday for half term but lets put this game behind us and like Derby like to say..... concentrate on the league !!