Cold and Windy Win
Team battle opponents and conditions
The first game of 2018 and it was so cold!! We were away at Mangotsfield on their pitch near Downend leisure centre, which from prior experience I know is the coldest place on earth. We debuted our new orange away kit to see in the new year and we also welcomed back Toby in goal after a reasonable period of absence through injury. Harry was especially pleased as this let him back out on the pitch and he took up the left back position this week. Flynn was right back with Emmanuel and Max continuing their partnership in central defence. As Joel was ill during the week, we gave him a rest to start and subsequently decided on Elijah to anchor the midfield behind Liam, Kyran and Olly. Cody and Mike took the two central striking roles.
The wind wrecked havoc with both teams attempts at football, but when we got the ball down and under control, we seemed to have the ability to cut through the Mangotsfield defence. Cody raced clear on a couple of occasions with one shot agonisingly rolling the wrong side of the post. Another incisive through ball from Olly sent Mike clear, but his effort was well saved. Defensively our full backs were a little high up in their efforts to join in the attacks as we had more of the initial play. However, it was from a long clearance out of Mangotsfield’s defence caught us out too high and whilst Emmanuel and Toby looked to have it covered, their forward stabbed at the ball and it rolled unchallenged into the empty net. Somehow despite having all the possession we were behind.
Fortunately it did not dissuade us from continuing to play and our response was pleasing as we kept the pressure up on Mangotsfield. A good ball down the left from Harry found Mike running the channel and he used his pace to round the defender and attack the near post, his shot beating the keeper to bring the scores level. We continued working hard and pinned Mangotsfield back winning a corner on the left, which caused problems with a good flick on not being met. Liam kept the play alive and got the ball back into the box. There were a few attempts to stab the ball home from our team (a crowded box, so I could not see who), but the ball came back to the edge of the area, where Kyran was waiting to strike the ball back into the bottom right hand corner of the goal and put us into the lead.
Elijah was injured and replaced by Joel and we switched to a more familiar 4-3-3 as we saw out the half with a 2-1 lead. At half time we focussed on keeping the defence tight but to keep playing and take advantage of the wind in our favour. In truth the second half was not our finest 40 minutes as we were hurried in possession throughout and did not really stretch our advantage as we could or should have done. We moved a few players around with Flynn, Olly and Mike all taking spells on the side line. Even worse we conceded a late penalty, but luck was on our side as the Mangotsfield player missed. Emmanuel, Harry, Max and Elijah were resolute at the back and Toby was alert to smartly tip over a cross that was drifting in with wind assistance. Late efforts from Kyran and Emmanuel were on target and Cody had a decent shout for a penalty, but by full time we were happy to get out with a narrow victory and get back into the warmth. A hard fought three points in the end.
Man of the Match: Emmanuel Choi – Strong at the back and almost impossible to beat at times. He led by example today.