1 – Russell L 2 – Rufus G
3 – Louis F 5 – Leo M
7 – Cameron M 8 – Charlie W
9 – Zach L 10 – Charlie T
11 – Sam M 12 – John R
14 – Thomas R
Harry H and Tom A were still away on international duty, apart from that we had a full squad to choose from.
Training facilities are still out of action so the warm-up session was the first chance we had to speak to the team since the last game. The key learning from the previous week’s performance was to concentrate right to the end of the match and not get drawn out of position when we are leading. The team need to learn how to get a lead and see it out.
The boys looked really up for battle and lined up with Russell L in goal, John R started in central defence following his impressive performance the week before. He was flanked either side by Louis F and Sam M. The energetic Rufus G started in the middle of the park, with Cameron M and the returning Zach L on the wings. Thomas R started in the No 10 position behind Charlie T up front. Charlie W and Leo M started on the bench.
The referee today was Christian L and he called the captains in. Charlie T elected to take the kick-off and played up the pitch in the first half.
It was clear to see from the early exchanges that the game was going to be a tight affair. The ball was bobbling around the midfield without either team able to gain control. Both teams created half chances with Russell L making a couple of routine saves and catches, as did the opposition keeper.
Leo M and Charlie W came into the game and from there the substitutions rolled throughout the game.
The Irons were first to make the breakthrough with their impressive star player twisting and turning before calmly finishing. Nothing that the defence or Russell L could do. This goal seemed to spark the Piranhas into life and the team stepped up a gear. The defending players of Louis F, Leo M and Sam M were bravely making themselves available for Russell L to pass out from the back, with Russell making his own decisions where to play the ball. John R was holding his position really well, keeping the defensive line together.
Rufus G was up and down the pitch showing what a ball of energy he is, not giving the Irons any time on the ball. Zach L, Charlie W and Cameron M were creating havoc on the wings with Thomas R and Charlie T making themselves available up front.
The first Piranhas goal soon came when the ball bobbled around in the opposition penalty area, it dropped to Charlie T who unleashed a shot into the top corner. The boys celebrated wildly and it was obvious they wanted this one today!
Braintree got another goal on the break, before the Piranhas second goal. We have been really working on the team pressing the opposition in from goal kicks. Each player knows where they need to go to stop the other team playing out. Thomas R was in the perfect position to press the defender and won the ball. He played the ball into Rufus G who was bursting into the box and finished well.
We called the lads in at half time and heaped praise on them for their performance. We asked them to keep their concentration until the last minute.
The second half continued as the first had finished at a frenetic pace. Cameron M, Zach L and Charlie W were breaking down the wings creating numerous chances but the Irons keeper was also in good form. Russell L made a number of good saves, continuing his good form.
The only goal of the half went to the Piranhas and it had a stroke of good fortune about it. Charlie W played a great ball through the middle which Charlie T chased down putting pressure on the keeper. The keeper hurried his kick and the ball hit his own defender and went in. Unlucky for Braintree but deserved for the Piranhas overall performance.
With ten minutes to go and after what happened the week before, this would be a real test of concentration for the team. The boys did not let us down. John R, Leo M, Louis F and Sam M held their positions with support from the midfielders to see the game out.
In the last minute the Irons had a corner and it was Christian L’s time to shine! The first ball was cleared and the final whistle went, just before a Braintree player struck a shot which hit Louis F on the hand. The Braintree players and bench appealed for a penalty but Christian stood firm with the original decision as the final whistle had just blown.
This was by far the team’s best performance of the season so far against a really strong side. There were a couple of things which really stood out – the lesson of concentration had been learned from the previous week and pressing the opposition into their own half. Made all the more impressive by the fact we haven’t been able to work on these things in training.
There are still improvements to be made such as being tighter on opposition players and not allowing them to turn.
The Piranhas are really starting to look like a team and we still have Tom A and Harry H to come back in to strengthen even further.
MOTM today when to Charlie W. Charlie battled well and looked calm on the ball, getting it down and trying to play.
Great Team Mate could have gone to the whole team but it went to Charlie T. Charlie has been working on which runs to make and it was this running that caused problems for the Braintree defence. He was also vocal during the game.
Many thanks to Christian L for another superb refereeing display and to Mike R for stepping in to take the flag. We must always remember we can’t have the matches without these volunteers. Thanks to the Piranhas supporters for their encouragement, you should all be proud of your young footballers. I certainly am.
Next Match: 14th October 2018. Away v Wilvale Rangers. KO – 10.30am.