Our fifth friendly match saw us experience our first defeat and pick up the ball from the net for the first time to cancel our 100% start to the Pre-season friendly games. A lot of positives came out of the game, such as the fighting spirit to get back in the game, the possibility to react and fix our mistakes during the game, to adjust to game time tactics are just a few. Luxol started off as the better team keeping possession and keeping the ball for good stretches. B'kara employed an unusual 1-4-2-4 formation and seemed willing to wait in their own half, giving our Centre backs plenty of time on the ball. A slow build up often saw our centre backs opt for the long ball, which was clearly the oppositions intention for us to initiate our attacks. This so the opposition win the first balls and try to hit us on the counter.
Following on form our comments about the transition from attack to defence, during the defensive phase, our team did not close down the spaces well. Despite closing the spaces well across the width of the pitch when we didn't have the ball, the defensive line was generally too far away from the midfield line and thus created space between the midfield and defensive lines.
It wasn't till the (30th) minute Torregiani (attempt saved) and the (37th) minute with Zak Muscat seeing his attempt go wide, did our team disturb our opponents.
The space between the midfield and defensive lines was exploited with opposition players able to receive in the space between lines and turn. This lead to situations with a numerical superiority or equality for the opposition when they would attack. This forced Jacob Crossey to foul outside the box on the (39th) minute. With a poor wall set up, a low drive kick from the free kick so Team Thunderstruck suffer the first Goal against.
Half Time Team Thunderstruck 0 -1 B'Kara
(5) Players came on. Mangion, Arpa, Gatt, Zammit, A. Borg replacing Spiteri, Grima, R. Borg, Camilleri and Crossey respectively.
Our tactics: When we are in the attacking phase, we will be faced by a compact block. We should concentrate on playing high tempo football, switching the play quickly from one side to the other. If transferring the ball from left to right, we can also then take full advantage of the left back's poor positioning play through the centre and into the penalty area.
That's exactly what we did. On the (53rd) minute switch play by Micallef Decesare, Arpa controlled the ball in the box, combined with Zammit and hit past the Keeper to level us up.
When we were circulating the ball quickly and switching play, B'Kara were finding it hard to contain us. Two more attempts on the (65th) min and the (69th) min from Arpa and Micallef Decesare both cruised over the bar. We could sense that we were about to score!
Against the run of play though B'Kara went ahead instead. On the (80th) min B'Kara Left wing was brought down by Mangion and B'kara made it 1-2 from the spot. This shocked us a bit. B'kara hit us on the counter and exploited Micallef Decesare out of position. Our team was slow to react and shift as a team quickly enough, as a pin point through ball so the opposition's Right wing through in a 1v1 situation against Mangion and chipped it over to net home.
1-3 down for the first time with a two goal deficit and just (9) min remaining on the clock. 'A never say die' attitude is what we needed. Sixsmith won the ball in midfield, combined well with Micallef Decesare, that battled his way inside the box and was brought down, with the referee having no choice but to point to the spot. Cool as you like Sixsmith converted, putting Luxol back in the game and making up for the missed penalty against Balzan the previous week.
On the (90th) min we could of levelled matters and gone home with a well deserved draw but Cassar Torregiani's last second effort went wide.
Full-time Result Team Thunderstruck 2-3 B'kara