This week Wigton hosted Leeds City Reserves and saw their 5 game winning run brought to an abrupt end as the visitors gave Wigton a lesson on movement off the ball and how to defend when without it.
A number of absentees gave opportunities to the likes of Trigger to continue his partnership with Jack at the back along with Adam in net and Gary in midfield however despite still fielding a strong team Wigton never really got a foothold in this tie.
The game started badly for Wigton as the visitors quickly put the home team under pressure and after only 5 minutes took the lead when good movement down the left wing allowed a Leeds midfielder in behind the back line and despite a good save from Adam following the initial shot it was a Leeds player that reacted first placing a header into the top corner.
Wigton did briefly come back into the game as they started to move the ball with some one and two touch passing however they still struggled to match the visitors at the breakdowns as they were out fought aerially and were caught on their heels as they lost out in the battle for the second ball.
With the score at 1-0 and nearly 30 minutes of the game gone Wigton were still in the tie however slack defending at a corner allowed an unmarked Leeds player to tap in from close range and put the visitors 2 up.
Leeds extended their lead further 5 minutes before the interval and effectively killed the game off when Wigton again failed to deal with a corner with an unchallenged Leeds player heading in at the far post.
Wigton did start the second half in a brighter fashion and tried to move the ball quickly when they had possession however Leeds were quick to pressure and close down Wigton’s players making it hard for the home team to maintain any pressure they were trying to apply on the visitors.
As the game passed the hour mark and with Wigton having failed to create the chances that looked like they may find a way back into the game the Gaffa made 3 changes as Ryan replaced Adam at full back, Jack Temple was given an outing in midfield whilst Chris Lone move to right mid as Trueman made way for Warren up front.
Unfortunately, no sooner had the changes been made Wigton shipped a 4th when a Scott Turner clearance was intercepted just inside the Leeds half and when a Leeds midfielder’s run was not picked up he broke through Wigton’s back line before receiving the pass and casually placing the ball past Adam.
Disappointingly, Wigton’s heads dropped after this and for the first time this season gave the impression that they had given up. The gap between Wigton’s defence and midfield grew bigger allowing the Leeds players to break and move into space with ease. Two further goals followed from poor marking at corners as Wigton were shown the importance of the need to actually get TOUCH tight to their opposing players. Leeds compounded Wigton’s misery with another well worked goal as a wide midfielder cut in and found the far bottom corner before a penalty with 10 minutes to go polished off what was a convincing win.
The game however gave the Wigton’s players first hand experience of where they need to improve as a team as despite the convincing scoreline there was little to separate the technical ability of the two sets of players.
Big lessons need to be learnt from the movement of the Leeds players when they were in possession as not only did they move with pace but they crossed over and bent their runs making it difficult to pick up runners. Meanwhile, when they didn’t have possession they were quick to pressure and close down the Wigton players and ‘hunted in pairs’ where they could.
Next week sees another tough challenge as Wigton travel to Otley Rovers who are mid table in the Premiership, two divisions above Wigton.The Gaffa will be looking for Wigton to improve their own movement off the ball whilst not only being quicker to the second ball but closing the opposition down quickly when not in possession as it is these areas which we need to work on before looking to collectively improve further.