So we scored 3 goals and hit a post but still lost the game. It was a very disappointing outcome on Saturday 8th September on an extremely hot Happy Valley Astro Pitch. We started the game in our usual 4 – 4 – 1 – 1 with the following 11 :
Sanju, Andy B, Pablo, Bertie, Nav, Rory, Jay, Tom, Adam, Michael Johnson and Forlan.
On the bench we had Oli, Paddy, Matt, Henry, Knowles and Jeremy
We added Pablo and Jeremy to the squad after they impressed at training. However, we unfortunately lost Scott again this time to work and Stef to illness the night before th match.
In any case the squad is solid. We started the first half might brighter than the opposition playing our best football so far. The defense soaked up any pressure with Bertie commanding as usual assisted by debutant Pablo, Nav and Andy. Our midfield looked too much for USRC to handle with all four midfielders playing well and Rory looking especially strong. Up front Michael really looked the part and helped by Forlan they carved out some good chances. On twenty minutes Tom has a shot from range which is blatantly handled in the box but the ref to the bemusement of everyone including the USRC bench waves on. We make a few changes before half time with Knowles coming on for Tom and Jeremy on for Adam. Mike slots in like the Knowles of old and makes a solid contribution for the rest of the game and will get better as he gets fitter. Jeremy unfortunately pulls his quad muscle and has to be helped off the pitch which was a real blow as his height and pace would have put more pressure on USRC.
At half time I thought we were so much better than the opposition that is was only a matter of time before we scored. However, the next half was really poor. Oli came on for Rory on the right and didn’t really get to grips with the game plan or position. Matt came on up front for Forlan and worked hard without an end product. Paddy came of for Michael Johnson and worked hard but didn’t make any impact. In fact our starting 11 also switched off and we were second to almost every ball, lost most of the headers and 50 50s. USRC grew in confidence and almost couldn’t believe the change. As expected they scored to get the crucial lead. Then disaster for us. USRC were threatening on the right so Vera went on for a tired Nav. After making some initial good touches he then scored an og from a header and had to be hauled off after pulling his hamstring. A nightmare comeback for our Chairman. To make things even worse Adam who goes on to cover Vera breaks into the box unsighted and taps in a goal… At the wrong end! Its 3 – 0 to USRC from nowhere. After some great interplay in midfield Jay shoots with the outside of his right boot to hit a post and Bertie heads wide from a corner to give is a little hope. Finally with a minute to go Pablo plays a beautiful long pass to Michael who slots in a brilliant finish to make it 3 – 1 and get us a consolation.
The reality is we threw the game away. We didn’t take our chances in the first half. Our fitness and application was poor in the second half. We did not make any real impact from the bench with the exception of Knowles. Finally most of the squad gave in without a fight which was very disappointing.
My thoughts are it’s still early in the season but all the teams are strong. If we slip up we’ll get punished it’s that simple. We need to get our fitness up through training. If you can’t train then hit the gym on your own at least. We need to toughen up as we were a soft touch on Saturday. Finally prepare yourself for the Saturday game. It’s not an afternoon stroll and no fun if you get battered and lose on a hot day. Get to the ground on time ready to go, go easy the night before and reduce your game time for other teams if you can’t handle it. Saturdays is the toughest run out you will get at the club this season, you need to be up for the challenge!