Top performance by the whole team again today, Charlie Howard earned Man of the Match for a brilliant performance in defence. After a shaky start to the season we really have ended it on a high.
Get thinking about your nominations for player of the season. See you all Friday at training.
Thanks for the Match Report Alex.
So the final page of the season was about to be written, would it be writ large? Going into the match we knew a win would secure fourth place by leap-frogging our opponents on the day; it would signify an upbeat finish as the momentum we'd been carried along with over recent weeks would be maintained. We would have to reverse a 2-5 home defeat from earlier in the season, but that was well within our current form's capabilities. David admits to being irked by their coach's loud behaviour-so much so he stationed us on the opposite side of the pitch before KO-so a victory today would serve as a nice end of season gift for our manager, it was that or earplugs! We welcomed back Ciaran to the squad-good to be able to draw upon his services once more.
The grey day had lightened some, but the swirling, gusty wind was quite strong. We kicked off and found ourselves playing up a slight incline into the face of it. It proved a real problem. Every header gained no distance, a ball in the air was halted or blown off course, yet by contrast a prodded ball forward on almost every occasion provided our opponents with an attacking move. Resolute defending to contain was the prescription required. The opening ten minutes play was just that-their attacks being quite sketchy meant we contained them. Charlie Howard, building on a very good game last week at centre half was showing great consistency in this game, ably backed by Tom. Brad playing on the left of defence found the position and conditions testing, but showed great application. In the twelfth minute Reece had to save a shot with his feet, and Galin swept the ball to safety. The resulting corner went for another on the other side. It was cleared by Michael, but wasn't retained in midfield. Some scrappy play from both sides left Deal in possession and a wind-assisted shot from the edge of the box beat Reece to his right. A goal down and the ensuing period saw much of the play continuing in midfield with the initiative coming from our opponents, and the Vikings fighting a rear guard action. A shot by Ryan on seventeen minutes, fed by Mateusz, went wide, then Reece came off his line to clear a through ball a moment later. Galin gave away a corner to halt a dangerous move-building on good work by Brad and Tom. The corner was wasted. Once more Reece was called upon, this time to push a speculative low shot around the post, then Finlay tracking back, was needed to clear the ball to break up an attack.
As we moved into the twenty second minute Tom screamed, 'No shot!' as their men were settling on the ball, and the blocked shot was easily collected by Reece. This demonstrated the mood of 'they shall not pass...or tackle, or shoot!' Within a minute Charlie Howard produced a great header to stave off a threat. In the following few minutes the pendulum began to swing our way and a high boot on Ryan gave us a free kick. Link up play between Mateusz-Ryan-Mateusz gave a hint of us finding our football, though the end product was still absent. In the twenty eighth minute Ryan fed Mateusz, he crossed and Charlie Steine fired in a long shot, which for the second week running dropped just over the bar, perhaps he'll get the trajectory correct next season? The half hour mark saw Tom heading a ball which Reece gathered. They were awarded a free kick to the corner of our box, which prompted David to demand shape from Tom in order to organise the defence. The resulting kick went deep and Finlay skilfully saw it out for a goal kick. A couple of minutes later a through ball intercepted by Mateusz was lofted forward, the wind played games with the ball and Mateusz found himself able to run on and collect it-he'd passed to himself, but that's the greed of a striker for you. Galin, who'd been strong throughout, won consecutive headers, then hurled himself into a blocked tackle. Then it came! A throw by Mateusz on our left was helped on by Galin. It fell to Ciaran who swivelled and deftly hooked the ball into the top right hand corner of the net, 1-1. Two minutes later a lovely pass from Charlie Steine was rolled into the path of Ciaran, who dinked it to Mateusz, though clean through, it was given offside. We were ending the half the stronger because the wind was dying and allowing us to play more football. Just before the break Charlie Steine passed to Mateusz, he knocked it to Ryan but his shot-hampered enough by the wind-was comfortably held by the keeper. Half Time 1-1.
We now had a very slight slope favouring us, but the cursed wind died by the minute. The second half began under now blue skies. Within a minute of the restart Charlie Howard had to make a good tackle, and Reece fell on the ball to smother it. This was not going to be an easy passage. A corner with Ryan, Joey and Ciaran linking well but the keeper gathered. Michael, who had found opportunities to forage forward in the latter stages of the first half, linking well with Alfie, was going to continue this in the second and he gave a great pass to Ryan, onto Mateusz but it was scooped over. Finlay, dropping to left back, played really well, and was able to push a number of balls down the line. The time advanced with us the most likely of the two to score, but did this game seem to be heading for a draw? A list of chances occurred. A foul on Ryan-Reece took it and found Joey who had a golden opportunity to put us ahead, but his control wasn't quite there. A hooked shot by Charlie Steine which the keeper held, a Ryan free kick flew over the bar, Galin pushing the ball on from deep, working down both flanks, yet that elusive winner wouldn't come. Then in the seventy third minute it arrived by courtesy of a posse of Vikings. Michael began the move on our right, inside to Tom who found Alfie. He controlled it and slid it to Charlie Steine. Charlie carried the ball and poked it through to Joey who in turn found Mateusz. Mateusz just buried it! We then looked capable of getting a third, but two proved enough. The whistle brought our season to a close and signalled our third consecutive victory. As Dave has posted, the second half of the season-eight games-is a great improvement on the first half. In fact in our last seven games we have recorded five wins, a draw, and a defeat, those gentlemen are title challenging statistics. It augers well for the new season. As an independent observer I felt certain-way back in the dark, cold winter months-that this squad had almost what it takes to be a serious contender. David was saying and doing all the correct things to shape and guide you, (you know my admiration for him is obvious), but you just had to listen and then begin to believe. I honestly think that belief is there now. Start thinking like the champions you could become, and let's do it next term. Still speaking as that independent observer, but echoing what most adults-perhaps all-must be thinking, I just wanted to say thank you gentlemen, for giving me/us such an enjoyable season. More of the same next season, please. Final Stats: Played 16, Won 7, Drew 3, Lost 6, Goal Diff +3, Position 4th.