First opportunity to roll out a football cliché and I have taken it with both hands,,,
This truly was a good example of a game of each team winning a half each. We were unfortunate to concede two goals in the first half; conversations in the stands (ok, really it is just a Respect line spray painted on the floor) confirmed this...
"We were really unlucky to concede two goals this half", "This doesn't look like a 2-0 game" and other such statements of disbelief were bandied around by the home support whilst Mr Hardmann dished out the coffee.
The first goal came on 15 minutes, very much against the run of play. Wigton had been pinned into their own half courtesy of some (genuinely) slick, passing football during the opening period. However, a long clearance was booted towards the halfway line and despite the best efforts of vice captain Matthew "David Luiz" Edwards, the ball dropped at the feet of the Wigton striker who - with great skill, it has to be said - lobbed the ball over PJ Garcia who had rushed out bravely to meet the striker at the edge of the box. Brave header from Matty, correct decision from PJ, yet we found ourselves 0-1 down.
The second goal 5 minutes before half time was a bit more disappointing to see go in. It resulted from a rather scrappy attempt at clearing the ball, which somehow found itself bundled into our net. It was very much a "first game of the season" goal and will be quickly forgotten. The more the boys play together as a team, the less this kind of goal will be conceded. PJ dealt with everything else in the first half, carrying on his impressive displays from last season, not least of all with a cracking save in the first 5 minutes.
The Blues continued to pass Wigton off the park despite losing the physical battle in the first half. In all fairness, the Wigton Athletic group have a few big lads in there who will be a difficult proposition for most teams this year. Harry "The Ledge" Ledger was a constant threat down the right hand side, throwing in great cross after great cross. When the forwards and midfielders get used to this kind of supply, don't be surprised to see quite a number of assists coming from the right boot of The Ledge.
HT - quick drink, a couple of changes and a chat about how we might defend better as a unit, and we were back on!
Ben Wilson really took hold of the middle of the park in the second half and after a rocky opening 5 minutes, we really started to dominate the possession. Harry Foster and Gareth Phillips really started to function as a unit around the defensive rock that is Matty. We, all of a sudden, looked solid at the back and confident in possession. Despite creating some openings early on, it was really the last 15 minutes where a goal really looked like coming. Louis Shea-Mckee looked dangerous every time he touched the ball and started to carve out a few opportunities for himself and Ben "I am actually a lot quicker than you thought I was" Connor.
Our goal came courtesy of the vice captain with 7 minutes to go. Ben Wilson took an out swinging corner from the far side which Wigton couldn't deal with and only cleared as far as his twin, Shaun Wilson. Shaun whipped the ball back in with his first touch which spun out to Matty who drilled it with is weaker foot into the top left-hand corner. A great goal and thoroughly deserved. The remainder of the game was spent primarily in the Wigton Athletic half producing chance after chance. Shots rained in from Louis, Ben Connor and Ben Wilson. Sebastian "as cool as you like" Calder came back on for the last couple of minutes to try and rescue a point and if not for the referee's final whistle, might just have rattled in the equaliser.
All in all a very encouraging display from what is effectively a brand new team. It was great to see such support today too, despite the awful weather. We can be very proud of ALL the boys today.