With pre-season disrupted and very little game time for the boys it was great to organise a game with our good friends from the now called Altrincham Academy who we beat in May to become Champions. The Altrincham hierarchy have decided to take their best 24 players (current and imported) and create two teams which will play in the East Manchester League, which is really disappointing when the top non-league team in the area leaves their local league, any way thats a discussion for another day.
They came with a strong team made up of a mixture of the two teams, it was their first game, but they looked fit and ready to play. Our boys realised it was going to be a huge test and nothing like the 6-1 game we had at the weekend, unfortunately Josh S had picked up an injury at school so was unavailable. The game began at an unbelieveable pace with both teams not giving the other any time or space to play. Altrincham had a good shape to their play and our boys needed to adapt particularly when they had the ball. Altrincham edged the first 10mins with some excellent play and but for some excellent work by the back four od Daniel, Josh G, Thomas M and in particular Thomas Dy we could have been behind. Thomas Da got a bad knock so had to be replaced by Ben. For the next 10mins we started to get a foothold in the game with Thomas H, Henry and Ryan starting to assert themselves on the opposition and pass the ball as they know how to. This enabled us to create a couple of excellent chances for Flynn who had shots saved by their keeper. From one of their corners Altrincham took the lead when as the ball was headed out it fell to 'Nodders' 25 yards out and he hit it beautifully high into the top corner were Daniel had no chance of reaching it. This knocked the wind out of our sails and we had to dig in for the final 10mins of the half as Altrincham grew in confidence. Some excellent defending and screening by the midfield ensured that the scoreline remained 1-0 to Altrincham at the break.
The boys were told that this is a strong team you are playing, but you are a very good side when you do the basics and make good decisions when in possession of the ball. We need to be more protective of the ball in forward areas and we need to engage them higher up the pitch to ensure we play territory in their half and in our final third hopefully, but it needs us all to anticipate rather than be reactive. When we do have the ball lets stretch them wide and create spaces for Ben and in particular Flynn.
The second half started off so much better with our boys on the front foot and they had a belief about them. Ryan and Henry in particular were breaking things up at every opportunity and making excellent decisions playing 2 and 3 touch football. The boys at the back were atacking the ball with aggression and were dominating from the halfway line which made the work of the boys in front of them so much easier and when Altrincham went long Daniel was there as a keeper sweeper to clear any possible danger. Altrincham started to tire, their first game so to be expected, but our boys, in only their second game, were coming on strong, every first ball was being won, every second ball was being competed for and won, so we had the territorial advantage but it was now about the quality and guile to create an equaliser as Altrincham were extremely well organised. When the goal came it had a hint of dispute about it. Some excellent work down the left with Thomas Dy and Nathan led to a ball being struck across the box and Flynn swivelled superbly to hit a wonderful right foot strike which the keeper did amazing to even get to it with an outstretched left hand, but the referee, who was on the spot, decided the ball had gone over the line so the score was 1-1 after 45mins. This gave our boys a massive lift and put us in the ascendcy with a quarter of an hour to play.
The game became a tight affair with both sets of boys starting to tire on a warm night. It was now a question of who wanted it more and who had the mental strength to make the right decisions. Altrincham had a couple of chances which Daniel did well to save and the three boys at the back showed excellent character, concentration and fitness to keep at bay 'Archie' and his team mates who had excellent movement throughout the game. Our midfield had come on strong with Ryan dominating the central area and Henry giving a superb performance on both flanks. Nathan and the skipper Thomas H had started to benefit from our control and looked dangerous going forward and seemed to be our best chance of creating the winner as the clock was running down. Ben and Thomas H were doing an excellent job as our 'No10' both with and without the ball and Flynn and Thomas Da (who had managed only 20mins diue to the injury he sustained in the first half) were hungry with their movement to get the winner. When it came it was a training ground goal, Ryan yet again won the ball in midfield, Henry was on his way showing his pace down the right, Ryan played him in with two touches and Henry played a beautiful cross in after two touches to the far post where Thomas Da had pulled away from the defender to head over an advancing Altrincham keeper into the net It was no more than the boys deserved as they had shaded the game based on their second half performance.
The referee, Nigel Peacock, who is also the U13s league secretary, was veruy complimentary about the quality of football from both teams and was surprised by the speed and energy both teams showed considering it was a warm night and early in the season.
The game was an excellent run out for both teams for different reasons and its always great to play against our friends from Altrincham who will undoubtedly smash the EML this season, so good luck to them. As far as our boys are concerned they all said that the speed, intensity and strength needed was far higher than anything so far and the new boys, who are bedding in really well, said the pace we play the games at is far faster than theyve ever played before but they are enjoying it. Every player contributed to an excellent victory and the Man of the Match was a difficult decision with Henry having an excellent game, working his socks off and making good decisions when in possession of the ball and Ryan who covered so much ground in dominating the central area particularly in the second half which helped drive the boys on to victory. However, for his all round defensive display and his contribution going forward with superb decision making Thomas Dy was named MOM..
Tough game with Wilmslow Town Cougars at home in the league on Saturday 9.30am kick off when we will have the bare minimum with Josh S still injured and Thomas Dy and Ryan unavailable due to Altrincham Boys entrance exam.