On Sunday Canterbury Eagles U15's were home for the second fixture this season against Thanet Colts U15's. Considering the two sides places in the table, the last meeting between them some weeks back was more even than anticipated, with the winning goal coming in the last minute of play. Having learned Thanets long ball style of play from the last match, Eagles looked to use that to their advantage. Eagles went with an unfamiliar 3-3-3-1. This would compact the team together and add more numbers in midfield, in the hope of winning more of the long balls. It was the first time Eagles played with a back three, but with the extra row of defensive midfielders in front, that should be enough protection. This also allowed the front 4 players to concentrate on more attacking play. All players attended this one except Hugo Manning-Press who was away. Captain today was Ellis Reid.
The first 15/20 minutes was arguably an even affair, and Eagles best spell of the match. Both teams looked to get a firm hold of the game. Eagles showed moments of good passing and moving in close quarters, but struggled to really take that pass the defenders. Thanet spent more time in Eagles half but their play broke down more often than not. The deadlock was broken in the 20th minute by Colts. An almost like for like of their last goal against us. Colts won a corner, delivered it well to their unchallenged player, who rose high to head it passed the keeper. Colts doubled their lead 2 minutes later, when a through ball was played beyond centre back Marvin Gourlay. The Colts striker using his pace, sprinted in behind the defence and finished his one on one with the keeper well. Thanet had found their stride now and looked up for it more than Eagles, physically and mentally.
At halftime Eagles were urged to step up a gear, especially the ones who weren't giving their best efforts. We had to at least match the same desire as Colts were showing. Thanet were dominating all aerial balls still, even with the extra numbers Eagles had in the middle. This needed to be addressed. Two sub changes were made at halftime.
Thanet Colts got a 3rd goal 4 minutes into the second half. A high ball forward from Colts went over the mistimed head of Gourlay. The Colts striker ran onto the loose ball and finished well beyond Bialek. Eagles heads were dropping more and were struggling to find their way back into the game. Colts got their 4th goal of the game in the 49th minute. A Colts player way out on the right, shot from an angle, about 25 yards out. The ball went over Bialek who attempted to reach high and get something on it but it dipped in behind him and went in the goal. Eagles never really tested the Colts keeper throughout the game as they struggled to find a way through the resilient back 4, especially their right back who handled Eagles serial goalscorer Ellis Reid well all game. Colts finished the game with a 5th goal just before time.
Special mention to the referee James Brewster who, just a parent from Thanet Colts team, stepped up to ref the match, as we was told only a couple of hours before that we didn't have a referee today. With no reffing experience and having never refereed before, Brewster delivered a fine reffing performance, with some great decisions, even experienced refs would struggle with. Well done!
Although some Eagle players knew they hadn't put in a shift today, their were others who no doubt had. Two players came to mind for the Managers award today, one of which was Kacper Bialek. The week before he won both awards and again this week showed why. He is improving each week and again today demonstrated his rushing out abilities in one on one situations, and also his strong, safe catching, which wasn't always the case in the beginning of the season.
Man of the match and parents awards this week both deservedly went to Dylan Saunders. Saunders who is no stranger to these awards, was showing the rest of his team what pure commitment and challenging for the cause was all about. When Eagles needed to step up physically to match Colts, the players need look no further than Saunders for some much needed inspiration. Fighting for anything aerial, in the oppositions possession or a dead ball, Saunders would try to beat the opposition for everything and start Eagles own attacks. Well done!