We started poorly and conceded after a few minutes, failing to deal with a throw in which was allowed to bounce in the box to their player who had a simple nod in. Not sure how no one got on the end of the throw.
Second goal was also pretty sloppy, they had a man over at the back post and he slotted underneath Tom from close range.
After the second went in I brought myself on for Josh to try and get us going a bit in the middle as we looked very laboured and slow to react to everything and it seemed deathly quiet from the sidelines. There was a lack of pressure on the players who were passing round us with ease, we seemed to have very little physicality compared to them.
In hindsight maybe it was a mistake to play with 3 at the back again, without Rob and Adam on the wings we didn't have as much defensive capability as we seemed to need in this game. I underestimated how weak we'd be on the flanks, as well as how capable our opponents would be, and they seemed to cause us problems every time they lumped it forward in attack. It wasn't just the formation though, we were second to everything when it did come our way and just looked off the pace.
We switched to a 4-4-2 which seemed to offer a bit more stability, Pete went into the right back position and the back three shifted one to the left.
When we did have the ball it was rushed and we looked very low on confidence, with any slight chances to attack quickly fading away. There were some bad decisions being made by pretty much everyone, in a word I'd say we were rattled.
In Pulse soon scored a third, with a tidy finish from outside the box that looped over Tom into the corner. It felt like we had nothing to offer at this point and when the half time whistle blew it was a relief.
There was some positive and constructive chat amongst us at half time, we knew we were capable of a lot more and could see where we had been lacking. I kept the same players on the pitch but swapped with Johnny who would be playing centre mid and I would push up top in the hope of giving them a bit of a taste of their own medicine.
We started the second half like a completely different team. There were voices heard all over the pitch, we were winning nearly all the 50/50s and the ball was being used intelligently with quick, precise passing that was opening them up time and again. They had pretty much nothing to offer and it was almost like the two teams had swapped over from the first half. This may well have been down to the pitch being on an incline, although it wasn't particularly steep, in the first half it did feel pretty tough moving up the pitch with the ball, whereas in the second it was much easier.
It wasn't long before we worked the ball into their box and with a bit of a lucky deflection of Luis the ball ended up at Johnny's feet in the box and he comfortably slotted in past the keeper with his left peg. There was a sense of belief and purpose about us now, something that we have managed to summon up a few times this season when it hasn't been going our way.
We were causing them a lot of problems up top when Lee and I were coming short to collect the ball into feet, it enabled us to get the midfielders up the pitch to join the attack in numbers, with Rich, Johnny, Karl and Luis all able to offer a simple lateral pass into their feet so they could attack In Pulse with momentum and enough support. Lee was showing good movement off the ball to pull their defence apart and this was creating pockets of space for our oncoming midfield to exploit. We could also look for my head when there wasn't a shorter or low ball available and we had a bit of success that way too.
It wasn't long before we pulled another goal back, with Johnny and Karl showing some initiative and opting to take a quick corner before our opponents could get properly organised. After a quick one-two, Karl managed to take it round their man and delivered a pinpoint cross into the box where Lee was waiting to head forcefully down towards the goal line, leaving the defenders on the line unable to stop it from going in. We had all the momentum and were raring to kick off again as we could taste blood...
Despite our dominance, In Pulse did manage to get into our half a few times but could only muster some wayward long shots. It became apparent to me that they had now designated one player to concentrate on me and foul me every chance he got whether the ball was near me or not! He was literally just staring at me, following me around the pitch, blocking me and kicking out every time I went past him. Although he had some success this also meant they had sacrificed a defensive player to do this job and left some pretty big holes for our players to move into.
Not long later, we forced a corner and Karl delivered yet another excellent cross - I think every cross he made in the second half caused them big problems - Rich went up to challenge for the ball and got something on it and it looked to have bounced slightly over the line, their defender tried to clear but could only scuff it pathetically up into the air in front of me and I tapped it in. We'd done it, back level from 3-0 down and with the wind in our sails.
Unfortunately we just couldn't get the winner. We had chances to, with Ali having one cleared off the line after a rebound that had hit the post from a shot by Lee. Luis had a chance where he was put through but the keeper did well to close it down and concede a corner. I headed one across the box but no one was there to tap in and also had a chance unmarked at the back post from a corner but could only wildly volley it high and wide.
Our momentum died as the game wore on and tiredness set in, my legs were certainly starting to feel heavy by this point as I'm sure others were too. The ref blew for full time and we shook hands, the first I shook was the lad who was in charge of kicking me and we both had a grin on our faces which is the way it should be.
Mixed feelings about this one, it was disappointing how poorly we played in the first half, yes the formation didn't help but we just weren't up to it, we seemed so lethargic and disinterested. From the sidelines it seemed very quiet on the pitch, it wasn't just me that thought it too. Ryan wasn't feeling quite right and he is usually one of the voices so maybe that had contributed, but even so, we should all be making ourselves heard and talking each other through the game.
On the flip side I was impressed with how we managed to turn it around in the way we did, every person out there played a part in rescuing that point and we should feel extremely positive that we pulled it back from a three goal deficit. Weaker teams would have crumbled and turned it into a cricket score, but we recognised what was wrong and how to change it and then put it into action. Well done lads.
I'm going to give myself the man of the match award this time. I thought we were a different proposition with me up top and it made life very hard for them when we got the ball into my feet in space. I held onto it under pressure to give us the time to move up the pitch and receive the pass and create attacks using numbers. I would have given it to someone else usually, but as they felt the need to designate someone to stop me as well as Johnny saying I had to try and stay on as long as possible I think that's enough justification ?? Special mentions for Johnny, Karl and Lee who constantly made intelligent runs off the ball to find space and offer an option when we attacked as well as using the ball well to find the right pass.