Following last week's disappointing showing vs Mersey Boys (which saw us loose on the opening day of the season for the first ever occasion), the message was clear in the build up to our next test. We owed ourselves a performance and the hard work on the training pitch in the build up to the game put us in a confident mood. Games don't come much easier than having to face last season's champions especially coming off the back of a defeat which clearly hurt just 7 days before but sometime we revel as the underdogs. The starting line up saw three changes with Pablo starting at left back, Ethan rewarded with his first start of the season after last weeks MOTM and Ross was back in giving us real attacking threat on the counter attack. We started very brightly and it was our number 9 who found himself in a great position after just 5 minutes but with the goalkeeper bearing down on him he fired his effort over the bar. With 10 minutes gone we got the breakthrough, Connor took a quick throw in and found Paddy who controlled the ball and squared the ball for Jude Carter who'd already anticipated the run Ross was about to make. His first touch was excellent and he had the pace to burst past his marker before unleashing a great finish into the far corner to make it 1-0. It was more than we deserved and Ross had already demonstrated just how badly he was missed on the opening day. Predator had a little spell after the goal but nothing much that had us worried. The back four were very well organised and that was ultimately down to the central pairing of Sam and Kalu who were up for it from the very first whistle. Kalu was back to the player of old and Sam was extremely vocal and commanding. Ethan took a knock which saw Daniel coming on and the lads were working their socks off. Half time came with Predator looking like they were just settling into the game and they really should have equalised putting an effort wide of Harry's goal (half time 1-0).
You could see how much the first half had took it out of the lads but we had the lead and still had the belief we could hurt them on the counter attack, unfortunately it was the same old problems which would be our downfall as we missed 3-4 very good chances. The game changer came about following a shocking tackle on Kalu who had stepped out with the ball from the back confidently, he over touched the ball and the resulting challenge was dangerous and high and he was lucky not to come off worse than he did. Nobody likes to see red cards at this level however there are far many more who wouldn't like to see a potential leg break and it was an absolute mystery why the referee didn't even issue a yellow. That gave Predator a massive lift it was almost as if they'd scored you could see they had slightly rattled us and their mood had changed. It swung the balance of the game and for the first time we were under the cosh. Harry's handling had been superb up until the 47th minute when he misjudged a tame effort and the ball skidded under him and into the back of the net. The wet surface didn't help however what ever way you look at it, it was a cruel way for us to concede. Their sail's were now up and they could see we had been affected by the tackle but you can't deny them what was a fantastic goal to put them 2-1 up in the 52nd minute. A cross from the right hand side was headed out by Sam but there was nobody close enough to their left winger who struck a fine volley into the goal despite Harry getting a hand to it . The positive thing was the amount of time we still had to fight back and get something from the game and the response was very encouraging. Gift had grew into the game and Ethan had replaced Jude Carter who had given everything to give us yet more pace in the wide areas. Paddy saw a deflected shot tipped over and in the dying stages followed in from a rare spilled effort by their keeper who made amends with an outstanding save. Back to back defeats wasn't in the script but there was so much encouragement to take from this level of performance and it's fair to say if we can maintain that for the remainder of the season the wins will soon come our way.