On Sunday Canterbury Eagles U15's played host to Wye Juniors Utd U15's. This was to be the last match played of 2019. Having only played eachother two weeks ago, the 10-1 defeat to Wye was still fresh in Eagles minds. The target today was to end the match with a much improved scoreline and team performance. This would be a tough but not impossible challenge against the team competing for top spot. To add difficulty to the match, Eagles were without five players today, which meant no substitutes. Henrique Zanlorenze, Alejandro Cobena and Nicholas Tsarouchas were all Ill. Ellis Reid was away and Cristhian Grist was unavailable. Without key attacking players and the need to be very defensive, Eagles decided to go with the very fitting Christmas tree formation, the 4-3-2-1. Newest player Eslam Elnashar was in the starting eleven for the first time this season. Kacper Bialek was captain today.
From the start Wye were getting possession and looking to go at Eagles like they did last time. With the formation set out as defensive as it was, Wye soon found out today was going to be a more difficult task. Eagles meant business and it was clear to see early on that although Eagles weren't looking to threat much going forward, they were mentally and physically prepared to do what it takes to stop Wye getting goal opportunities. All was not completely lost going forward, with Hugo Manning-Press demonstrating his desire to shut players down, steal possession, and launch his own attack numerous times. Eagles hard work and relentless defending came to an unfortunate blow in the 25th minute. Keeper Kacper Bialek and a Wye player both ran at a dead ball about 20 yards out, but the opponent just got there first to strike the ball beyond Bialek and into the empty net. Eagles heads didn't drop tho, and resumed the same level of commitment and enthusiasm for the rest of the half.
Despite being 1 goal down, Eagles were feeling quite positive about their performance so far, and for good reason to. All that was encouraged was to keep up the consistency, and dig deep to find that extra drive when tiredness kicks in.
The second half display was very much the same as the first. Wye was trying to play their way through but an Eagle body was always ready and willing to shut down their move. All players were having a go at being a defensive hero, in particular Ted Warne-Harvey at right back. He mostly had the better of his opponent and displayed great strength, tackling and composure to steal possession from the opposing winger and look for a forward pass to launch a quick counter attack. Eslam Elnashar was also impressing in a role which looks suited to him. Using his speed and no fear attitude to shut down players everywhere he could. Wye got themselves another goal in the 64th minute much to the frustration of Eagles. As tiredness had undoubtedly crept into all the players, they were just a bit slow to shut down a Wye player who easily found space and shot from 25 yards out to score. After working so hard for so long, Eagles started to deflate a little bit, but enough for Wye to notice and capitalise on for the last 15 minutes. Wye got themselves a 3rd goal in the 67th minute. Wye were awarded a penalty 2 minutes later when Eslam Elnashar brought down a player in the box. Although Elnashar committed the foul, he had to be commended for his desire to rush in and stop the player with an almost good slide tackle, on an opponent about to shoot from a few yards out. Fortunately the penalty was missed as the player struck the crossbar. Wye finished the game with a 4th goal in the 72nd minute. Similar to the first goal, Bialek who albeit slow coming off his line, still just beat the opponent to the ball, however a fumble of the ball saw it go behind him into the path of the Wye player to tap into the empty net.
A much better result than the previous meeting with Wye, but more importantly the team showed a real togetherness when up against the odds. A performance to be proud of and one of the few if not only matches, where you believed almost everyone was in it together and had the same objective and desire.
The Parents Players award was deservedly given to Hugo Manning-Press. He fought hard with everything he could, showed great determination to gain possession and gave Eagles a threat going forward. The first half definitely belonged to Manning-Press, but tiredness kicked in in the second half to stop him claiming both awards today. Ted Warne-Harvey was just in front for the Managers award today, for putting on a confident defensive display. Warne-Harvey regularly dispossessing opponents on the attack, even displaying good footwork after dispossessing and before well visioned passing. Well done!