Having had a disrupted pre-season due to holidays and the very early start to the league we had managed only one friendly in our new 9-a-side format with rules now applicable such as offside ! So it was going to be a challenge going to Sale United Phoenix who the previous week, on the leagues opening day, had lost narrowly against Egerton Youth who are an excellent team who have just joined the league.
The boys started as they had finished last season, completely in control and on the front foot, Josh G, Thomas M and Thomas Dy together with Daniel were commanding at the back, Thomas H, Ryan and Nathan completely controlled the midfield and Flynn and Thomas Da showed excellent movement and anticipation. We were a goal up in 2mins through Thomas Da and could have added to that in the first 10mins but the front boys enthusiasm took them into offside positions which we need to work on. Josh S, who had come from the bench to replace our goalscorer, scored our second on 17mins and he could have had a couple more as he showed excellent pace and skill. Henry and Ben, who had replaced Nathan and Flynn respectively, showed excellent touches, skill and workrate during the rest of the first half. The first half ended with the scoreline 2-0 which didnt really represent our dominance.
The boys were told at half time to play how we train 2 and 3 touch football as Phoenix will undoubtedly tire as theyve been chasing the ball for almost all the first half. Front players to time their runs and not to run in straight lines, bend your runs to stay onside. Same again from the dominant back four and midfield three. Lets score some more goals as your play deserves it.
They played some fantastic football in the second half, moving the ball quickly and they dominated territory in our attacking third, which meant when we played 2 and 3 touch we opened them up and Josh S, Thomas Da, Thomas H (Captain), Nathan, Ben and Henry all had excellent chances to score but their keeper made some outstanding saves. It was therefore last seasons ace marksman Flynn who yet again found space and showed anticipation in tight areas to help himself to a second half hat-trick (38,45 and 49) to put us 5-0 up. On one of their rare attacks Phoenix scored a good goal on 52mins only for Thomas Dy to make it 6-1 to complete the scoring.
All the boys had played their part and had equal playing time which is what they needed considering our pre-season disruption. The boys were delighted with the 6-1 win but they all said they can do better and in particular in the second half when decision making could have been smarter at times, some boys wanted 4,5 or 6 touches as they had more time and space with the opposition struggling to compete, whereas 2 touches and spreading the ball wide to stretch them as our two wide players were free and in space repeatedly. Some excellent performances, many positives and things to work on but a fantastic start to the season in our aim to defend our title.
For his excellent workrate and being a constant threat plus scoring a hat-trick the day after his 11th birthday Flynn was named Man of the Match.