With no Cup Match we were planning to play a strong Sale Utd Storm before a big game next week, unfortunately they couldn't fulfil the fixture. However, their second team Phoenix who had been unbeaten since we played them in a friendly in October stepped in to play us.
We had a squad of 12 with Josh G and Ben G being unavailable due to holidays. We emphasised to the boys that we needed to treat the opposition with respect whilst at the same time playing at a high intensity, pressing to win the ball back when we lose it and then passing and moving when we have the ball. Lets put into practice what we've been doing in training.
We started the game with a 3-3-2 system with captain Daniel W in goal, Ben S, Thomas M and Thomas Dy at the back. Thomas H, Ryan and Nathan across midfield and Flynn and Daniel H up front. We began on the front foot with the boys winning first and second balls all over the park. We could have been a couple in front before we actually took the lead on 7mins. Ryan scoring with a right foot screamer from 25yards that arrowed into the top corner. It wasn't long before we increased the lead when Thomas H struck a right foot thunderbolt from 25yards that drilled into the bottom corner giving the keeper no chance. The boys were in total control and we could easily have added more goals with chances for Flynn, Daniel H and Nathan that were well saved.
We made a number of changes with Thomas Da, Henry and Josh S replacing Thomas H, Flynn and Daniel H. The boys continued to dominate and we gave Phoenix little chance to break forward and when they did the 'back 4' were in total control. Unfortunately on one of the rare occasions they broke into our half a poor back pass led to their forward nipping in and rounding Daniel W to slot home to make it 2-1. We soon regained our two goal advantage when Henry hit a beautiful right foot shot that went through their keeper and into the net to give us a 3-1 half time lead.
We told the boys to keep playing the football we can by moving the ball quickly via two or three touches and ensuring the person on the ball has moving options. Also we need to be more ruthless in front of goal and maintain our concentration and focus at all times.
The second half was one way traffic with the boys totally in control and playing some excellent football. Daniel H soon made it 4-1 with an excellent finish after a flowing move. We were creating chances at will with the midfield trio prompting and creating chances for Josh S, Flynn, Daniel H and Thomas Da which were either blocked or we missed the target. We soon made it 5 with another Thomas H thunderbolt and it was 6 within minutes when Thomas H completed a well deserved hat-trick with another right foot strike. Shortly after Daniel H got his second and our 7th with a poachers goal when he was in the right place to finish with his right foot. We were now hungry for more goals and we had many opportunities before our final goal got our ace marksman Flynn back on the scoresheet with a sublime right foot finish after he'd dropped his shoulder and gone round his marker to make the final score 8-1.
Their coach was extremely complimentary about how our boys had played and was certainly an eye opener for him and his team. We praised every one of the 12 boys who had played today. The 'Back 4' of Daniel W, Ben S, Thomas M and Thomas Dy were superb as individuals and as a defensive unit. Thomas H, Ryan, Nathan, Thomas Da and Henry were dominant, creative, hardworking and ruthless in front of goal. The front 3 of Daniel H, Flynn and Josh S pressed superbly as the first line of defence, showed excellent movement when we had the ball and worked well as a pair whichever combination we tried. They scored goals but just need that extra ruthless streak to improve their overall game.
The boys voted for Man of the Match and for his excellent non-stop performance together with a quality hat-trick Thomas H won the award. We've got a massive Cup game at home next Saturday against Urmston Meadowside Devils in our quest to make the final.