A stormy affair...
The big concern today was whether Storm Dennis was going to make his appearance and whether the game would go ahead. Conditions were pretty horrendous with strong winds and driving, freezing rain sweeping the pitch. The opposition were first out the blocks to ensure they played with the wind, and despite us winning the toss and opting for the better end, their Caoch intervened and we would need to play two thirds in to the storm.
The first third was a tough battle from the off with the opposition launching a series of sustained attacks. Evan M dealt with a number of corners well and despite the weather, and the pressure, the boys continued their determination to uphold our footballing principles and continue to play from the back. The first third ended goalless after a tense and enthralling battle.
Into the second third and not for the first time this season we started a little lacklustre. We were second to most balls and looked lethargic. It took the oppositions goal for us to pick our heads up and get back into the game. By now the weather was really picking up with driving sleet and high winds, making our long passes challenging. Again the boys stuck to our principles and played out from the back. The second third ended with Stourbridge ahead but there were signs of a revival!
The final third saw the boys knuckle down despite the conditions and we found ourselves with a number of chances but as yet unable to convert. We began to think it was going to be “one of those” days but Isaac took matters into his own hands and smashed the ball into the wind, finding the bottom corner of the net and levelling the scores! Our defence still had to be vigilant as the opposition picked up their attack and we relied on the impressive duo of Liam and Evan M to keep them at bay. Ryan continued his strong performance with some skilful battling, Ben was ever industrious and everywhere on the pitch. We were pressing then for a winner with some good team play, thwarted by a worldie of a save from the opposition keeper. The last few minutes were a tale of the two Evans, with Ev K through on goal on a chance I’d bet my house on but it wasn’t to be. The final minute saw a heart stopping moment where Ev M placed his only errant pass of the game into the direct line of the opposition striker through on goal only to pull out an incredible save and take us to the final whistle level.
Good performances today given the conditions and we are very proud of how the boys stuck to our game plan in the face of an opposition side intent on claiming every decision.
Following the match today I expressed my personal congratulations to one player who I considered had played to an outstanding level today. Following further reflection we believe there was another boy whose performance was worthy of the gold medal accolade and after lots of discussion the coaches just couldn’t find anything to distinguish them. As such, and as a one off, we have decided to award a joint gold this week.
Evan M was simply outstanding today, he commanded his box, made some excellent saves, communicated throughout and, on the hardest day of the season so far he produced an almost perfect distribution performance. This is the Ev we know and love and his challenge now will be to meet these high standards consistently.
A complete performance from this player in difficult conditions. From drilled cross field passes, to joining and linking up the attach, to winning personal battles and being comfortable on the ball. Liam too was simply outstanding.
A gritty all round performance from Ben, covering almost every blade of the pitch, his work rate consistently high excellent communication and a high win percentage of tackles.
Ryan showed a lot of skill and determination throughout, linking up well and being a constant source of attacks (and frustration for the opposition).
After many weeks (and hours) we have been able to complete our player summaries and will be sharing those with each set of parents over the weekend. We would encourage you to discuss them with your child and talk with them about how they are feeling/coping with their own season so far. Each report has a short summary of the boy’s season to date, some strong points that we want them to continue doing and some areas for development. Every boy has areas for development no matter their standard so please reassure your child that there is no negativity attached to us identifying areas for them to improve upon and that all players (and coaches) will have them.
In a few weeks we will be asking the boys during training to discuss between themselves their strengths and areas for development, firstly you highlight to them all that collectively they all have fantastic contributions to the team and all have things to get better at. We want to encourage an open feedback culture where they are all comfortable with their development pathway and can support each other, where having “things I need to work on” is not seen as a weakness but as an integral part of moving forward individually as a player and collectively as a team.
If anyone would like to further discuss their player summary please let us know. Also if any parent wants to share any feedback on the season so far, the player summaries or the performance of the coaches we would encourage you to get in touch with one of us.