GK - Charlie W
DEF - Tom A & Sam M
MID - Etien H, Harry H, Cameron M
STR - Charlie T
As the players started turning up to the ground, the pitch was already being used by the Wolves so the lads had to run through their warm-up routines on the adjacent pitch. The lads looked focused and ready to go, despite a bit of mucking around and the odd bottle flip (grrr)!
The Piranhas have faced the Panthers recently in a game which finished 3 - 3. Everyone involved felt that the Piranhas had done enough to win that day, although a slow start ultimately cost the team and the size of the opposition keeper who wouldn't look out of place in an under 14's side! I think it was obvious from the team talk that the boys were keen to get the right result today.
Before the KO, I spoke to all the lads individually to make sure they all understood their importance to the team and the jobs they had to do. To be fair, this is quite an easy task now-days because the lads all tell me what their jobs are and they don't need reminding. Tom A and Sam M have started to understand that the defenders are the most important players on the pitch, protecting the goalkeeper and allowing the players moving forward to create chances. If you don't concede goals, you don't lose football matches!!
Charlie T was captain today as it is his 9th birthday during the week. Charlie followed the referee over to the Maldon captain where the Panthers won the toss and elected to kick off.
Charlie W suffered an injury during the week so to protect him from further damage, he stayed in goal for the whole game.
The match got underway and to say that it was one-way traffic was an understatement. The Piranhas were on their game from the minute the ball was in play and that was really how it stayed. The team pressed together every time the ball came out from their massive keeper. The lads held their positions and just broke up the play straight away causing frustration to the Panthers.
Any time the Panthers did beat the press, Tom A and Sam M were imposing at the back and Charlie W in the goal made one or two fine saves as we have come to expect. Etien H was really at it today showing off his array of tricks. Cameron M and Harry H worked really hard breaking everything up and creating chances for Charlie T up front. The only thing missing was a goal, due to last ditch tackles or an unlucky final pass.
The break-through did eventually come when Charlie T picked up a loose back pass from a defender. Charlie ran through to goal and prodded past the keeper with his left foot.
The goal was all the Piranhas needed to open the game up. Etien H picked the ball up on the inside left and chipped a lovely ball through to Charlie T who finished, again with his left foot, for his second of the game. The team were spraying the ball all over the pitch. Whenever Charlie W played the ball to Sam M or Tom A, they always had Etien H, Cameron M or Harry H to pass to and an attack was started.
Goal number three came when Charlie T battled well to win the ball. He played a ball out to Cameron M on the right. Cameron picked his head up and put in a great cross which was met by Etien H to finish. Cameron also laid on goal number four when he played a ball into Charlie T who smashed the ball goalwards. It took a slight deflection but was definitely Charlie's goal to complete his hat-trick.
Half time came around and the team were buzzing. The lads were celebrating with each other but the focus remained. Ross and I heaped praise on the boys for the ultimate team performance, however, we also stressed that they couldn't switch off.
The second half continued in the same way as the first with the Piranhas pressing high up the pitch and pouncing on any mistakes. There was a five minute period where the lads switched off a little and Charlie W had to make one fantastic save. Charlie's distribution of the ball was first class, throwing and rolling it when he could but also kicking it out to the wings when required. Tom A and Sam M made a few saving tackles as well to keep the Panthers at bay.
Tom A's confidence was soaring and he started to bring the ball out of defence, adding an extra man to the attack and causing all sorts of problems for the Panthers.
The next goal came when Charlie T picked up the ball on half way, he played a pass to Harry H on the left. Harry looked up and picked out Cameron M in acres of space for Cam to add to his scoring tally for the season.
Charlie T saw a left footed shot cannon back of the post before goal number six eventually came. The mesmeric Etien H produced a lovely bit of skill and a perfectly weighted pass into Harry H who smashed home.
The team were amazing today with the best display of teamwork I have seen from them all season. They helped each other, celebrated with each other and continued talking through the whole match.
They made the right decisions at the right times to produce a stunning performance making it all the more difficult to pick a MOTM. The award today went to Etien H for his hard work and great awareness to keep his team moving forward.
Many thanks to Ross Morley for another fine refereeing display and to all the Piranhas' loyal supporters for coming out in the cold.
Well done lads!