We welcomed Sandhurst Boys to our new home. Pitch was looking good, but the grass a little long due all the recent rain. 4 qtrs of 15 mins against a very strong east berks prem team who'd already played a friendly and a 9 aside tournament before this.
The tough challenge was an opportunity to assess where we are and the areas we need to work on for the new season.
Sandhurst deservedly won, although scoring the only goal with the last kick of the game. We'd look more tired and were making more mistakes in the last qtr, which eventually took their toll. RE won man of the match, not for his saves, but for the fact he was quite precise with the ball handling and responded well to danger in the area. This in turn gave our defence confidence.
Sandhurst had much of the possession today, with Phantoms working hard to break up play,but then frustratingly wasteful when we won the ball back. Opposition attacked with pace and imagination with Phantoms trying to work as a unit to prevent danger. At this level every player needs to be switched on, understanding when to push-on,when to clear, when drop in and cover in behind their teammates etc. You can have individual skills, pace etc, but you've still got to work that into the team. Work in progress.
There were some positive changes in defensive personnel with a couple of boys playing in new positions seeming to relish it. Pleasing for me was that we looked like we could cause Sandhurst some problems and had 4-5 goal scoring opportunities ourselves. More composure required in front of goal and the importance of your first touch in final third.
Sandhurst were very compact when not in possession of the ball and we needed to get the ball out wide rather than try and play passing football in a congested area with the long grass..
We were not unlucky to lose and ultimately our own mistakes and poor decisions lost us the game. The conversation at the end of the game was whether they boys want to play just for fun or if they are collectively serious about winning. If they want to win then that decision making needs to be more ruthless. I will commit and train the boys as much as ever (probably more!) but the outcome is up to them.