Not really sure where to start with this report. On the Friday I had just about enough players and relying on players to come through games on the Saturday. Come Sunday morning I get the call offs and realize I only have 8 players and no goalkeepers. I call around frantically, but only Oli is able to alter his plans and join the party.
9 players. This is the first time as Manager of the Sunday team, I’ve been put in this situation and utterly frustrated and embarrassed that with an outside chance of promotion, we can only field 9 players.
As I arrive @ KGV, the temperature gauge in the car reads 31 degrees C……bugger!! I gently let the players know we only have 9 players and have a battle on our hands.
We start with the following. Henry in goals, back three of Oli, Flabbo and Bobby. Midfield we have Mehdi, Rob, Tom and Jens and Andy H up front. At kick off I see the Colloids players counting our players, one of them says….”oh you only have 10”….count again I say!! New tactics are employed….waste as much time as possible and try hold onto the ball as much as we can and avoid onslaught and massacre. Well amazingly, like a 5’s team, we start knocking the ball comfortably and only punt when we see an option for Andy or Jens. Colloids are trying to get the better of us, but the midfield and defense are holding strong. They have a number of corners, but are no threat to a very organized Spartans rear guard. With 20 mins gone, from another corner the ball spills out to their winger who crosses, Bobby goes up to header clear , but manages to fire the header powerfully past Henry. This was desperately unlucky and Bobby’s first goal for 5 years. We are not down hearted and continue where we left off, playing the ball around and countering any Colloids attack. Flabbo gets a knock with 5 mins of the half to play and manages to waste a few minutes. HT: 0-1.
The mood at HT is very upbeat, as we are baffled by our intelligent and unconventional play.
Thinking that Colloids had figured out how to play the 9 man Spartans, we were more cautious as the second half starts. They were now attacking with renewed vigor, overrunning our midfield. Somehow we were able to match their attacks and stand firm. In fact as the half progressed, we were also able to conjure some chances of our own, Mehdi broke down on the right, but was unable to find Andy. Rob and Tom were pressing when they could and frustrating Colloids, who in turn made substitutions to try and freshen their team. Flabbo’s injury was preventing him to move freely and he replaced Henry in goals. Henry slotted into the back three. As the game came to a close, we were unlucky not to get a deserved point, when Jens headed powerfully goal bound, only to see the Colloids keeper make a great save. FT: 0-1.
I’ve never been as satisfied as a Manager, as I was yesterday. I saw the very best side of the Spartans in adversity. We could have easily rolled over and let the League Champions overwhelm us, instead we still gave this team a very tough game, we rode our luck at times, but were really deserved something from the game, apart from exhaustion. The back three were at times playing against three to four attackers, but somehow with Rob and Tom coming back to assist, we never looked overrun and were clearly frustrating the League’s top scorer. The midfield were immense. They all worked incredibly hard and sensibly attacked when the chance came. Andy was unbelievable up front by himself. He was strong and held the ball up brilliantly. Henry was a rock in goal and pulled off a fantastic save in the second half to keep us in the game. MOM: All 9 players. Just to think 9 players can hold off the new Division Two Champions…..what could have been?