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Written by Michael Brown   
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 17:42

Prestwood Colts 5 v 2 Martin Baker Spitfires

(Tomlin 2, Bentley, Arnold & Weddle).

SYBL League Cup Round 4

After our enforced winter lay off we finally got a game in last Sunday.With Sprinters deciding to rest their pitch we played this cup match at Prestwood Common, surely the most exposed ground in the league. It was a cold and blustery morning and the uneven pitch became a great leveller between the sides. So not ideal conditions, but typical when playing Sunday league football at this time of year.

No doubt our opponents came with a game plan to get in our faces, be physical and play the long ball to a couple of alert and nippy forwards. And in the opening stages we looked like a team that had not played together for several weeks as passes went astray, tackles were missed and our usual tempo was only making guest appearances.

Indeed, in these early stages we were grateful for the stand in keeper Sam making a couple of effective blocks to keep us level. What was worrying was how easy their attackers seemed to be getting between our defenders despite the vocal “encouragement” being bellowed out by the coaches to alert them to the fact. Also, one or two of our players appeared to be showing the after effects of tired and emotional evenings as we toiled to get any continuity going. However, after 10 minutes of this laboured activity we began to create a few quick passing moves. And before long we were ahead thanks to the returning Ben, who looked liked he has benefited from his winter break. He broke quickly down the left and found space to receive an accurate pass from Owen after good work from Will A down the right. Ben’s skilful shot curled past the keeper and the watching crowd thought this could be the platform to assert our position. Unfortunately, Martin Baker’s long no nonsense balls straight down the middle continued to trouble us and before long , following a corner and a massive goal mouth scramble when we just could not clear the ball, the opposition found themselves level.

For the next 15 to 20 minutes the game was even with no clear chances from either side. After 35 minutes Dom came on to give Michael a bit of a breather in the middle, and in the latter stage of the half the lads began to demonstrate the composure and movement that makes them such a good side. And inevitably, once we build this quick tempo opposition sides get turned and we begin to dominate. And the goal from the impressive Will Arnold that put us back in the lead was a beauty as he connected the outside of his right boot with a rising ball on the edge of the area and had the technique to keep it down and drill it past a couple of defenders into the net. No sooner had we scored we added a third to extend our lead. A typical in swinging corner from Nick into the middle of the 6 yard box was met by Joe’s firm header into the goal. Defenders like Will R and Joe just love the type of service Nick and Will T deliver from corners, and it is no surprise that we score a fair share of our goals from these positions. 

In the second half Brodie, who moments earlier had ensured the Co-op in Missenden was sufficiently stocked for the rest of the weekend, replaced Lewis at right back. Earlier, Lewis had ended the half with a yellow card, which seemed a little harsh but at youth level if you are seen to block a ball with an out raised hand you will pick up a booking.

Unfortunately, the tempo we finished the first half with did not reappear at the start of the second. A combination of tired legs and a re-energised Martin Baker led to them narrowing the lead when a hopeful punt down the middle was not dealt with and the ball was fired back past Sam. The Spitfires buoyed by this goal maintained their pressure and though we huffed and puffed further defensive indecision led to a justified penalty being awarded against Prestwood. Evidently, the lad who took it, had scored a belter from the spot in his last game, and probably expected to fire in an equaliser. Instead, he scuffed the shot and Sam did well to keep his position and save comfortably. This was the pivotal moment in the match. If they had scored their tails would have been up and we would have probably had to deal with a lot more pressure. Instead this was the moment the lights went out for them as far as this competition was concerned. By now Ollie had come on for Ben, and Dominic after being substituted earlier came back on. Michael replaced Joe in the back and in the last 15 minutes we extended our lead to 5v2. This was thanks to two opportunist strikes from Olly, who played a key role in the centre of midfield winning challenges and distributing the ball intelligently. To be honest in this last session of the game we played at the level we normally do, probably realizing with that penalty miss that we had dodged a bullet. In these last stages chance after chance was created, but a combination of an alert keeper, who was quick to come out of 6 yard box to intercept danger, and some near misses meant that the scored remained at 5v2.

So we reach the last 8 of the cup, which is great news for the side but a nightmare for the league’s fixtures secretary as we try to complete all our games before the season’s finish on 30th April.

Michael

01/03/16

 

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