A rain sodden morning may have prevented decent note taking of the action, but it wasn’t enough to stop Athletic coming away from their latest fixture as worthy winners, and it certainly won’t prevent the much acclaimed journalistic flair that this site has become renowned for.
In truth, Athletic were scrappy in the opposition half, but rarely troubled in theirs. In poor conditions and a game dominated in the oppositions half you could forgive the Athletic defence and goal keeper for switching off. When they don’t and they compete with the same intensity and concentration to which the team has become accustomed, they should be praised, and praise we shall. To a young man, they were very professional in their task and Mortimer was rewarded with Man of the Match for a performance that saw him dominate the opposition at every chance. In addition, the football that Athletic are playing, invariably starts from the back, and Launchbury, Mortimer and McLeese started the game as if they were playing at the Nou Camp, calmly and confidently getting attacks started and playing intelligent football that got Athletic underway. A move from the back saw Barrett chase a channel ball. Determination beat the defender and an on target shot bobbled off the keeper and into the net. One nil. First dab.
The passing across midfield and up top wasn’t as crisp as normal. The conditions led to uncertainty and too many touches, and a sense that a wave of goals were imminent led to some poor decision making in the final third. That said, the goals did continue to come.
Mortimer made an interception and found Lucas-Howells in the middle. Lucas-Howells beat one before playing through Babington who raced on to his left foot and fired the ball into the corner from outside the box. A super finish, straight from the Tuesday night training session, and the Babington/Barrett dab celebration came out for the second time. Let’s all hope the boys don’t cotton on to the mannequin craze that’s sweeping into celebrations.
The third was a simple, yet effective goal. Direct is best. Barrett threw the ball to Lucas-Howells who beautifully shimmied past two before despatching the ball past the keeper. A super finish. Maybe these training sessions/drills work?!
Back to front for the fourth. Chaston to Mortimer, Mortimer to Babington, Babington to Lucas Howells, Lucas Howells to Burrows, Burrows to Gough, Gough into the net… Lovely jubbly!
The fifth saw Barrett tap-in from close range, but the credit belongs to Davies. The ball was played through but the defender beat him to it. Most would give up as the ball rolls on its way for an Athletic corner, not Davies! Pace, strength and determination saw him pull the ball back from right on the line, beating both defender and keeper, and presenting Barrett with the easiest of chances.
An opposition consolation came from a free kick, not much could be done to prevent it, and it was a shame for the defence and keeper who had been in great form.
We look forward to the next match, with hopefully drier conditions! That said, the new rain jackets did their job well, respect to Noush for enduring the headache and sorting… If only we had some hoody’s underneath the jackets ;)