On Sunday Canterbury Eagles U15's were home to Monkton U15's for Eagles second league game of the season. It had been at least 3/4 seasons since Eagles had last played Monkton. Historically these two teams always produced close games, however this time round a challenge seemed on the cards with Monkton currently sitting top of the table with three wins in three games. Eagles went with a 4-4-2, a more standard formation to the previous defensive one used, adding more players in the attacking areas in the hope of scoring a few goals. Eagles had a full squad at the match for the first time this season. Dylan Saunders wasn't 100% fit however, as he twisted his ankle in training two nights prior to the match.
Eagles couldn't have had a worse start as they conceded two goals in the 2nd and 3rd minute of the match. The Monkton attackers were going through the Eagles defensive line with ease, using their size and strength to help along the way. Eagles slow lacklustre start went from bad to worse as they found themselves 0-5 down in the first 15 minutes. Definitely an unwanted new record. A glimmer of hope appeared in the 19th minute when striker Lucien Eske hit a mild shot on goal but still managed to find the bottom right corner. The little bit of hope that Eagles picked up from Eske's goal became diminished when Monkton responded with a goal of their own the very next minute. Although Monkton were the better side at this point Eagles still recognised the opportunities to get the ball up into the final third of the pitch, as long as they stayed composed and implemented the team passing and moving methods they worked so well on in training. Eagles team performance started to improve, particularly when substitute Dylan Saunders came onto the pitch in a more central midfield role and injected some much needed life into his team. He was chasing and challenging everything in the hope of stopping Monktons momentum and to potentially spark an Eagles counter attack. The reward for Eagles came in the the 31st minute when Ellis Reid flew down the left wing with the ball, took on a defender or two and delivered a ball across the face of goal, which found its way to Henrique Zanlorenze, who made sure the ball found the back of the net. With Eagles owning this spell in the game they got another goal courtesy of Zanlorenze with Reid assisting again in the 35th minute, in a similar fashion to the build up before. This really boosted Eagles belief with talks of a come back from players on the field and the bench. With 4 minutes left of the half it seemed both teams were still looking to sneak another goal in before the whistle. The goal did come in the last move of the half from a Monkton corner. Eagles keeper Kacper Bialek who had already pulled out some good saves unfortunately wasn't able to hold the ball from the delivery which Monkton took advantage of.
At halftime Eagles were encouraged to strengthen up defensively as a number of Monkton goals could have been prevented. They were also encouraged to keep up the good play and pressure shown in the last 10 minutes.
The start of the second half looked promising for Eagles as they stepped it up a gear while Monkton looked to have eased off a bit. It was the 51st minute that Eagles were awarded a free kick, about 25 yards out. Zanlorenze stepped up to do the honours. With power and placement he got the ball over all the players which then dipped into the bottom left corner beating the keeper. A great free kick! Monkton looked rattled with Eagles growing confidence, so they responded by stepping up a gear. For the rest of the match it was a pretty even battle. Monkton added 2 more goals in the last 10 minutes and Zanlorenze got his 4th and final goal of the game in the last minute, with Eske providing the assist.
A much better performance by Eagles second half which showed a more even affair with 2 goals a piece for both sides.
An almost white wash of votes from the parents for their player award went to Dylan Saunders, who undoubtedly lifted the team with his drive and energy, spurring the rest on to follow suit. A close call for Managers player with a few names on the cards. New lad Charlie Woolford at left back produced another solid performance, while Dylan Saunders who was carrying a slight injury also impressed, but it was Henrique Zanlorenze who got the Managers player award today. The right midfielder was put as striker and managed to get 4 goals, one of which was a superb free kick. He also joined Saunders in using his pace and strength to get as many opportunities for Eagles as he could. Well done lads