Holly Lane United travelled to Lichfield City on Sunday. In our last training session I noted the players seemed over confident and cocky with regard to this fixture. Yes, we have got off to a great start but I was sure Lichfield would give us a tough game. The attitude didn’t improve on Sunday afternoon although it didn’t help matters with me arriving late due to a mix up with meeting arrangements. With very little preparation, the game kicked off with several minutes of constant pressure from Holly Lane that saw Tobias Andrews hit the bar with a 20 hard shot.
However, from the 10th minute Holly Lane seemed to go completely missing. Our normally strong midfield was completely redundant, Gabe & Lewis seemingly in a daze. Jordan & other key players just seemed to be ball watching, not willing to back track when we found ourselves under attack. Callum Hall was 3 yards off the pace and looked a shadow of the player that I know he is. We gave the ball away too many times; Jordan was caught out in midfield in possession that resulted in a shot that gave Charly no chance. We were simply not good enough and needed to improve drastically. On a plus note, the centre half partnership of Simon & Ettan was superb. It really is good to see Simon rekindle the form from two seasons ago. Kurtis at left back was dependable, performed his task well and was great coming forward. He deserved his man of the match today.
It was disappointing to lose Liam after only a short spell in the first half although Tom covered admirably. However, after 20 minutes I was forced to rethink our options due to our shocking display. We are a better team than this performance suggested, we needed to improve massively or we would taste our first defeat of the season. Although Lichfield is a physical team I felt that we were the better team; with 5 minutes remaining of the first half, I changed formation.
At half time, I tried to encourage our players but also gave them the kick up the behind that they needed. I reminded them that Lichfield City is no better than Holly Lane and gave the senior players a little more stick than I would normally receive. Key players were having a shocker.
At the start of the second half, Holly Lane conceded a corner. Again, we didn’t pick up and was punished. 2 nil down five minutes into the second half! On a positive note our player attitude changed. Despite going two goals behind, heads never dropped. The new attacking formation 4-3-3 produced a fight back that made this game one of the high lights of my time coaching. The next 15 minutes was truly fantastic. With Khari up front, Lichfield became un-hinged and couldn’t compete with the speed and turn of pace of Callum & Tobias. Gabe too began to get going, competing more now for every ball. Holly Lane were rewarded with a goal in the 40th minute, great work form Khari saw Callum slide the ball into the net. The fight back had begun; parents on the touch line were superb encouraging the team and willing an equaliser. After winning a corner, Jordan floated a ball that found Tobias perfectly heading into the top corner – a superb equaliser. Holly Lane was winning everything now, throwing everything at Lichfield. In the 48th Minute, the ball dropped kindly for Khari – he went on one of his strong runs and slotted the ball into the bottom right! Fantastic!
At 3-2 with ten minutes to go I made the decision to drop Tobias back into midfield (4-4-2) I thought this would make us stronger again in midfield but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Callum was substituted and Luke was asked to go upfront on his own with Khari dropping back too. We lived dangerously for several minutes but managed to hold on to give Holly Lane a memorable win.
After a shocking first half performance, our players produced a display that was brilliant in the second half. Lichfield City must have been gutted to throw away a two goal cushion. A great fight back lads, I hope you have learned a lesson though about being too confident??
A great start to the season Holly Lane but more hard work to do………