Top communicator: B E
A wet week leading up to the friendly against Petersfield Pirates, resulted in the away pitch being extremely soft and heavy, and only just playable. On the back of 2 straight wins, with no goals conceded, the Tigers were looking to turn in a similar performance against a team that beat them 4-1 on the second week of the season. The captain's armband went to B W who, week after week, has maintained a superb level of focus and effort both in training and on the pitch, demonstrating fantastic leadership qualities.
The Tigers started reasonably well, trying hard to play their own brand of football and not give the Pirates any time on the ball. Unfortunately, the heavy pitch meant that the energy levels were going to be sapped and the whole possession element of the Tigers' game would be the key. To their credit, the Pirates never really gripped the match as a whole, although they had 3 players who had the ability to run with the ball and put the Tigers defensively on the back foot. Press and cover needed, but only really the 2 defenders doing that for each other. Indeed, the 2 Tigers defenders of S G and D S were doing a sterling job fending off the Pirates' attacks, and it was sheer bad luck that an attempted block of a cross was turned in to the back of the net. With almost the last kick of the half, A D was unlucky to see his shot following a surging run hit the outside of the right-hand post. 1-0 at half time.
The second half mirrored the first, albeit there seemed a few more Tigers attacks, and a bit more possession by the away team. However, the fatigue was starting to show and the midfielders were tracking back less and less, leaving the defenders to try and keep the Pirates' attack at bay unaided. This led to a difficult period of soaking up the pressure and struggling to raise a counter-attack. Unfortunately, a lack of decisiveness down the right-side of the Tigers' formation allowed a rather uncontested cross in to the box and a Pirate head to loop the ball over the 'keeper and dip just under the bar. 2-0 Pirates. Although there were chances for the Tigers to get back in to the game, a number of passes hit to feet rather than space, and a constant break down in the flow of their attacks, helped nullify the majority of their potential breaks; although the best show of attacking play was some nice link-up between B E and T Bu on the left flank, with them just running out of pitch before the ball could be cut back in to the danger area.
Top communicator went, again, to B E who, although not as influential in his own game as usual, maintained some great vocal direction for his team mates.
MoM went to B W. Although fairly sound in defence and midfield in the second half, with calm hold-up play, and simple but effective passes out, his first-half goalkeeping performance was solid. A number of good stops, with sound technique and very good distribution, ensured the Pirates only enjoyed a lucky 1-0 lead at half time.
There was no particular lack of effort from the Tigers, just a lack of basics as they got tired, which had the effect of making their job even harder. Following the Christmas break, the Tigers must ensure they maintain the basics:
-Control the ball first (a number of players allowed the ball to run across them - to end up out of reach or taken by the opposition)
-Play the way you're facing (a number of times a Tiger immediately turned in to trouble, and away from team mates, rather than play a simple ball)
-Communicate (there were only 2/3 players who really made themselves heard, whether wanting the ball, passing the ball, or advising team mates of time or not)
-Move (Whether a free kick, goal kick or throw in, the players need to move in to space, and move again, and again, to keep the opposition on the back foot) Win, Lose or Draw, Tigers Roar!