After two excellent victories we were up against a strong Cougars team who had beaten a decent AOM team 7-1 last week. Plus we only had the bare minimum of nine players with josh S (Injured), Ryan (Exam) and Thomas Dy (Exam) unavailable so it was going to be a tough morning particularly as it was a warm day. We started the game on the front foot closing them down at every opportunity as they tried to play out from the back. Our front two of Flynn and Thomas Da anticipated every opportunity to intercept and created a couple of excellent chances for themselves which their keeper did well to save. Our midfield three of Nathan, Henry and the skipper Thomas H were commanding the tempo of the game and the 4 boys at the back Daniel, Josh G, Thomas M and Ben were in total control at the back. It was only a matter of time before we took the lead and Flynn was on hand to intercept as threy tried to play out and he finished with his usual clinical style. With the warmth and us having only 9 everybody agreed to play 3 x 20mins rather than 2 x 30mins. So at the end of the first period we led 1-0.
We told the boys that although it wouldnt be easy with no subs they need to ensure they play territory and dominate from the halfway line so the amount of ground covering is minimised. They were doing superb and making excellent decisions with and without the ball. We started the second period very slowly and the boys wanted 4 and 5 touches in areas of the pitch which invited Cougars to get forward and create us problems. So much so that from sloppy play they equalised after Daniel had made a great save only for another Cougars player to finish from inside the area to make it 1-1 on 24mins. Wilmslow now had a spring in their step and they were closing us down at every opportunity and what didnt help was we continued to take extra touches we didnt need in areas of the pitch from which we could be punished and that is exactly what happened on 31mins when the Cougars took the lead after some sloppy p,ay by us and they punished us with an excellent finish to put us 2-1 down. With no subs it was now an interesting situation as the boys knew they had got themselves into this predicament and only they could get us out of it. Their response to going behind was fantastic, they chased down every ball from the front tnrough our midfield and defence. Thomas Da was the catyalyst for this with his unbelieveable energy and anticipation and he was rewarded with 2 excellent goals in the 34mins and 37mins with one of them already the goal of the season with Thomas H playing a diagonal ball first time from his own half, Flynn ran onto it with a wonderful bending run and played it first time with his left foot across the edge of the box and Thomas Da ran on to it and struck it beautifully with his right foot and although the keeper got his fingertips to it he couldnt stop it arrowing in the top corner, a magical goal, which had the referee and David, the opposing manager, both clapping in admiration. The second period ended with us 3-2 up.
Although delighted with how the boys had come bacj from 2-1 down we made it clear as to why that had happened and we coach and train 2 and 3 touch football but players had decided to take 4,5 and 6 touches which gave the opposition encouragement, confidence and momentum and ultimately we paid the price. We knew the boys swould tire with no subs so made it clear that its better to let the ball do the running and save your legs andf lungs for moving into space to receive a return pass. The boys did superb in the final period as obviously Wilmslow tired too, we played 2 and 3 touch football in the key areas of the pitch and got the ball into Flynn and the outstanding Thomas Da who worked tirelessly for the team. with the scoreline only 3-2 the four at the back were dominant and apart from a couple of long range shots and a few crosses whizzing across our box Daniel, Josh G, Thomas M and Ben were in control. Nathan, Henry and Thomas H were working hard to screen the midfield area and then break when possession was secured. As Wilmslow pushed more players forward to grab an equaliser we made them pay by securing the victory with a fourth goal from Flynn after a wonderful through balk from the skipper Thomas H which Flynn finshed superbly. We could have scored another in the final minute when Flynn elected to shoot for his hat-trick when his partner Thomas Da was in an excellent position to complete his hat-trick !! The game therefore ended 4-2 to us which was a wonderful performance.
Alkl the boys played their part in a tough encounter and it was great that they could all see what went wrong for us to go 2-1 down from 1-0 up, too many touches on the ball not enough movement and individual mistakes through lack of concentratio. However, the way the team then took back control of the game was outstanding. The player who for us made this happen plus he scored two excellent goals was Thomas Da and he rightly collected the Man of the Match award for possibly his finest game in a Lazio shirt.
Wd will be back to full strength for next weeks away fixture at Urmston Meadowside Devils 9.30am kick off, Lees Field, Davyhulme road, Urmston.