With Lazio being top of the league with a record in the Europa Cup of P4 W3 D1 L0 it was vital that after drawing 2-2 away at today's opponents and current Champions, Altrincham Lions, we put breathing space between us and them to give us an excellent opportunity of making finals day on the 15th May.
The pitch was in fantastic condition, after the grass being cut and the lines re-marked this week. We told the boys to expect a hungry and passionate opposition as they had to win the game after a surprise loss last time out against Fletcher Moss.
Playing against the wind in the first half Lazio started slowly and allowed Altrincham to get on top. Our usually dominant midfield was finding it difficult to get a hold of the ball and we were struggling to win any second balls. Our back three who are normally so reliable showed hesitancy and a lack of communication which increased our problems. As the half wore on we started to hold our own without our usual commanding passing style coming to the fore. We created a couple of good opportunities through counter attacks but we were unable to take them. Altrincham had the bulk of possession but we managed to work hard to thwart them. Unfortunately just when we seemed to be getting in the ascendency we paid the ultimate price by conceding a soft goal after being sloppy and giving the ball away when we had boys who had broke on the counter attack. For the remainder of the half both teams showed passion and commitment and tackles were coming in from both teams. Just before half time Flynn had a wonderful opportunity to level the scores when after a superb first touch had put him through one-on-one with the keeper he tried to chip him and the keeper made an excellent save. So we trailed 1-0 at the break.
We told the boys that again they had caused their own problems and that they needed to get themselves out of the situation they were in. Playing with the wind at their backs they had to get control of the game and start to pass and move. We showed signs of improvement as the half began and certainly had the territorial advantage without creating too much. Both Nathan and Flynn had half chances which were blocked and Pearse and Max had delivered balls across the box which needed a finishing touch. The back three started to show a more positive approach and this allowed the midfield to engage higher up the pitch which enabled us to take a grip of the game and we started to pass the ball with more accuracy and purpose. With just over 15mins to go Thomas Higgins won a bouncing ball in midfield and struck a speculative 30 yard shot which deceived the keeper and nestled in the back of the net to draw us level at 1-1.
The game was now stretched as both teams tired and some of the challenges were shall we say borderline. Commitment and deire was evident on both sides and we looked as though we would go on and win it. Flynn had a fantastic opportunity when coming in from the left he opened up his body and tried to bend it into the far corner only to miss ther post by a fraction. With only 3mins on the clock we again got hit with a sucker punch when we gave away a sloppy pass when we had began a counter attack and two passes later their striker had put the ball through Daniel's legs to give them an undeserved 2-1 lead.
Try as we might fr ther remainder of the match we were unable to get the equaliser we deserved so we were defeated by a 2-1 scoreline.
The boys were obviously upset by the result and how they had played during the game. We told them that they had been on a magnificent run and they win as a team and lose as a team and it is vital they pick themselves up for a massive game next week against Urmston at home.