GK - Charlie W
DEF - Tom A
CDM – Sam M (C)
MID - Etien H, Cameron M
AM - Charlie T
By the time I arrived at Laundry Lane with a couple of the lads, there were two dodgy areas on the pitch. One of the corner areas that was still in the shade and one of the goal mouth areas which was very hard and slippery. An urn of boiling water was enough to sort out the goal mouth and the Piranhas completed their warm-ups in the frozen corner, with the activity enough to soften the ground sufficiently for the game to go ahead. A quick inspection along with Ross and the Hawks’ manager was completed for final confirmation.
The sun had come out now to reveal a bright, but chilly setting. The opponent today was Notley Hawks, a team that we had played well against earlier in the season. The team was slightly depleted today as Harry H was away, meaning we would only be playing with six players. There was no doubt in my mind that Notley would still field seven, which is exactly what happened, so Ross and I spent the team talk telling the lads that would need to work really hard for each other today.
Due to being a player down, the formation was changed slightly with Tom A playing at the back on his own and Sam M making up the numbers in midfield as a Central Defensive midfielder. Charlie T would play as an attacking midfielder rather than striker, to also give a bit more cover.
Skipper today was Sam M, whose effort in training and a ‘best of three’ victory over Cam at Rock, Paper, Scissors earned him the armband.
Now the lads knew they would have to work harder today to account for the Hawks’ extra player but what happened over the next 50 minutes was a show of absolute grit, effort and determination that none of us could have seen coming.
The match started as a fairly even contest for around 15 minutes with the Piranhas doing most of the attacking. Charlie T was finding himself out on the left a lot and trying to get crosses into the box.
The best chance in the early stages came from the Hawks and only a great save from Charlie W kept the score level. Tom A was absolutely imperious at the back on his own, knowing exactly when to come across for the ball and when to hold his position. He put in tackle after tackle to leave the Piranhas goal relatively untroubled. Sam M was covering lots of ground in midfield to provide Tom some extra cover. The trio of Etien H, Cameron M and Charlie T were causing the Hawks’ defence all sorts of problems, without getting the final decisive touch.
The Piranhas’ first goal came around the 20 minute mark when Cameron M picked up the ball from Sam M on the left. Cam sent Charlie T down the left wing. Charlie faked to cross with his left and cut inside onto his right foot, hitting a curler right to the top corner. A great goal.
Unfortunately, straight from the kick off, the Hawks walked through the whole team to equalise meaning a tight first half finished level.
During half time, I heaped praise onto every single player as the effort they had shown to be on level terms with a player down was truly amazing.
The boys had other ideas! They had saved their best for the second half and put on a display that I doubt will be topped all season! A slight change meant that Tom A went in goal with Sam M dropping back into defence. Charlie W came on into Central midfield to add some more energy.
It wasn’t long before the Piranhas were back in front. A run down the right wing and a first time cross from Charlie T picked out Cameron M in acres of space for Cam to finish coolly.
Next up Cameron M turned provider, crossing for Etien H to get in on the action, finishing brilliantly. Second game in a row that Etien has been on the score sheet, adding goals to those impressive skills and quick feet.
Sam M had picked up in defence where Tom A left off, leaving no space at all. I doubt there are many better defenders in the league than Tom A and Sam M. Anything that did get through to Tom in goal, he dealt with it comfortably and efficiently.
Going forward, the passing football and team work from the Piranhas was an absolute joy to watch, pulling the Hawks this way and that. It wasn’t long before the next goal came when Charlie T picked up the ball centrally. Charlie struck a great shot which the keeper got down well to save, only for Cameron M to smash home on the follow up.
Etien H and Charlie W were starting to see plenty of the ball and it was little Charlie who turned provider for the next three goals, firstly finding a pass to Charlie T, who wriggled past a couple of defenders and struck home well.
Next up, Charlie W found Cameron M in space for Cam to finish well and complete his hat-trick.
Charlie W then picked the ball up in central defence and played a wonderful through pass which sent Charlie T clear. Charlie ran the ball towards goal and calmly passed it beyond the keeper to complete his hat trick too.
After the game, every single Piranha was out on their feet and rightly deserved the praise and applause they got from myself, Ross and their loyal supporters. Even the opposition manager took the time to congratulate their fantastic performance.
As their manager, I could not be prouder of this team as they get better and better with every passing week. It is so difficult to pick a MOTM these days with the award going to Cameron M for his goals, hard work and team work ethic.
Thanks to Ross for another great refereeing display and thanks, as always, to the Piranhas supporters who braved another morning in the cold to spur their team on.
Well Done lads!