After having two games postponed it was great to get the boys back into action against an extremely strong Wilmslow Sports Dragons team. We started with a slight change in our playing system and style with Thomas H playing up front in the lone striking role with Thomas Da, Ryan H and Nathan H supporting from midfield. From the outset we caused them several problems with Ryan H playing early through balls forward to exploit the blistering pace and shooting ability of Thomas H. Thomas Da and Nathan H supported superbly from wide areas and Thomas M and Thomas Dy provided excellent defence in front of Daniel W. Unfortunately we didn't get the goal our play deserved and as against Altrincham we paid for it when their first strike on goal crept in at the near post. The boys rallied and a wonderful pass from Ryan H resulted in the equaliser superbly finished by Thomas H. So the first period ended 1-1.
The second 20mins was more of the same with several chances created by our boys with some wonderful penetrative football. Max P who had replaced Nathan H made a number of maurading runs down the left and with a little more composure could have created an opportunity for himself or a teammate. Again we were punished for not scoring when a dangerous pass out was intercepted and with only their second shot the Dragons found themselves in front yet again. The fear was that like the Altrincham game some heads would drop and the opposition would run out winners, today the boys had learned a big lesson from that game and with some vocal encouragement from a couple of the players (and the crowd !) they set about turning it around. Ryan H hit the bar and Max P, Thomas Da and Thomas H all had great opportunities before Thomas Dy equalised with a beautiful strike. So at the end of 40mins the score was 2-2.
For the third and final 20mins Nathan H replaced an exhausted Thomas Da who had run himself into the ground. We changed the shape with Thomas H reverting to his right side midfield role and Max P playing up front. Again we played on the front foot with Ryan H and Thomas H dominating the midfield, Nathan H and Max P linking up well further forward and Thomas Dy and Thomas M attacking everything at the back. Daniel W when called upon made a couple of good saves and his distribution was excellent. The goal we scored to take the lead was a wonderfully worked goal. Ryan H won the ball in midfield and played a ball down our left channel which Max P was onto in a flash, he took two touches and whipped in a beautiful cross which was met by a willing and determined Thomas H who just beat their keeper to the ball to steer it home. The boys were joyous and thoroughly deserved their lead. We now needed another goal. Try as we might, and we did have some opportunities we couldn't get that elusive fourth goal. The boys had given their all so obviously as we got to the last 5-10mins on our massive pitch fatigue both physically and mentally began to set in and with 4 subs the Dragons came on strong. The boys gave everything in the hope of keeping them out and deserved to do so until the last minute when after putting in a superb last ditch slide tackle (and still being on the ground) the ball struck Ryan H's arm and the young referee awarded a penalty. The spot kick was scored and the final result was 3-3.
This left an extremely sour taste in the mouth and although their management and indeed one of their parents (David Platt ex England) agreed that we were by far the better side an extremely poor decision had left our boys down in the dumps when they should have been overjoyed. The referee was big enough to apologise after the game and in turn our captain Ryan H apologised to the referee, the management and his teammates for his outburst at the decision.
All 8 of the boys performed heroically and gave their all for the team. This resulted in a fabulous performance against a very strong team. This level of dedication, commitment and hardwork will enable us to play the football we know we can play to compete with every team in our "LA LIGA TOP6" group. For his outstanding performance from start to finish the Man of the Match was Thomas H.
No game next week but a tough game awaits on the 28th February away at Altrincham Junior Lions......