Rushmoor Rockets 0 - 1 Hook Panthers
Well, there were a few nerves from the assistant coach prior to the match as I looked to point the team back to winning ways. Picking up on the weaker points from last week's match, the boys were told to start quickly and get the momentum going as well as be more direct in front of goal.
And what a start it was; across the pitch, everyone was on top of their game with some excellent football. The defence covered each other really well and started a number of attacks/counter attacks with some good distribution both down the wings and through the centre. The midfield tore at Rushmoor, winning some good tackles and surging forward at every opportunity, and the front-man did a great job tirelessly leading the attacks, working across the pitch and holding the ball up to give the midfield time to join in. No surprise that Panthers went in ahead at half time but a great surprise it was only by 1 goal! All credit to an excellent display by Rushmoor's goalkeeper who, frankly, kept his team in it.
The second half had a totally different feel to it and drew a different aspect to the team's game. Whether Rushmoor were better organised or whether the first half efforts impacted the boys' energy levels, but after the break it was all about digging in and fighting. There was still some good attacking play, nice passing and a good handful of opportunities. However, Rushmoor were more threatening, had more than a handful of chances and, a couple of times, caused me to have my heart in my mouth!
RE - was his, now, usual self, barking encouragement and direction from the goal with some assured positioning, decent handling and bravery with one particular Rushmoor offensive.
OK - had an outstanding game, a real consideration for MoM. Solid cover at the back, becoming more composed on the ball with some nice carries and distribution.
JF - proved his head works with a handful of excellent headers in the second half as well as sound defensive duties and some fine passes to set off some counter attacking moves.
EHE - a well-rewarded performance with the winning goal. Tireless up and down the left wing, he won the ball countless times, especially in the first half, and was heavily involved in any attack.
EH - commanded the centre of the park with a dominating display of grit, countless winning tackles and quick passes to get the attacks going. A close second for MoM
JR - another solid performance on the right wing, as well as causing problems for the opposition with his pace, passing and finding space; he won a good number of tackles too.
JC - an excellent performance up front, and a really good cross to assist the goal. Tireless running and constant hassling kept the Rushmoor defence on the back foot.
ON - spent time on both wings covering a good amount of ground. His pace and size caused problems for Rushmoor and he linked well with the rest of midfield and the front man.
TH - Starting in midfield, contributed well to a number of attacking moves with some intelligent passing. Finished the match in defence ensuring some solid cover work kept Rushmoor out.
Overall, I was really proud of the team as they demonstrated a number of attributes, playing some lovely football but showing they can do the physical stuff when needed. There are still areas to work on but I am happy to focus on the positive this week for a well-deserved, if less-than-flattering, result. They certainly did the Manager proud in his absence.