On Sunday Canterbury Eagles U15's travelled to Kingsnorth to play Ashford United U15's at the impressive Homelands Stadium, home of Ashford Town mens team. The pitch was much bigger than what Eagles were used to so energy would have to be used wisely, let the ball do the work! The pitch was also 3g, so a good flat quality surface to play on. These two sides faced eachother in the first game of the season, with the result going in Ashfords favour. Eagles were hopeful of a different result today, as they feel they are a better team now than what they were at the start of the season. All but Lucien Eske and Nicholas Tsarouchas were selected for this one. Eagles went with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Captain today was Ellis Reid.
The start wasnt a good one for Eagles, as they found themselves 1-0 down within 4 minutes. Their heads didn't drop tho and slowly started to get into the game. Both sides arguably shared an equal amount of possession and threat in the first half. Eagles defence and defensive midfielders were quite consistent in neutralising any threats. The attacking players were also working hard to try and create opportunities going forward. The chances came a few times, particularly from corners, where no one was really able to latch onto the loose balls and strike at goal with conviction. Eagles did manage to get a well deserved equaliser in the 26th minute courtesy of Ellis Reid. Hugo Manning-Press was running in possession up the right side of the pitch by the touchline while trying to evade his opponent, he looked up and saw Ellis Reid waiting unmarked in the centre of the pitch about 20 yards out from goal. Manning-Press crossed high and well to Reid, who hit it first time on the volley, to beat the keeper to his left. Good efforts from the keeper, but the power and technique were too good for him.
With it being all square at halftime and the match being quite an even affair, it left Eagles feeling quite confident. With the pitch being very wide and long it was easy to become tired quickly, so emphasis was still on good passing to limit unnecessary movement. Eagles did find an advantage to the space as they felt they had more time to think, observe and compose themselves before releasing the ball. The attacking players particularly liked the extra space to run into without immediate dangers all the time.
More of the same followed in the second half, both teams looking to threat with both sides defending well. The break game in the 62nd minute for Eagles as they scored to take the lead. Dylan Saunders received a pass from left back Charlie Woolford in his own half, who then travelled in possession to just inside the oppositions half when he looked up and saw the keeper off his line. Saunders hit the ball with power, height and accuracy to dip in the goal behind the back peddling keeper. Great belief of taking all 3 points was well installed in the team now, who had just 18 minutes to not concede. This period seemed to spark extra life into Ashford who really wanted an equaliser. Eagles attacking players were also back more to help protect the lead. Unfortunately for Eagles the extreme bodies on the line defending was not enough to stop Ashford getting the equaliser they very much needed with 4 minutes left to play. After alot of desperation and wayward kicking both ways the ball fell to an Ashford player just outside the 18 yard box. He had just enough time to get a shot off, albeit a rushed effort, which rose high in the air and dipped in behind the back peddling keeper.
Eagles felt gutted to be robbed of all 3 points, but positives were definitely taken from the fact they took a point today and the way they played against Ashford, compared to their previous meeting together.
The Managers award could have gone to a few candidates today, with the majority of the Eagles defence doing a great consistent job. However both parents and managers awards deservedly went to Dylan Saunders. On top of his usual consistent efforts to disposses the opposition and get forward, Saunders also picked out a number of good forward passes into the path of his on rushing team mates, creating goalscoring opportunities. He also showed great awareness and technique to get himself a special kind of goal. Well done!