1 – Russell L 2 – Rufus G
3 – Louis F 5 – Leo M
7 – Cameron M 8 – Charlie W
10 – Charlie T 11 – Sam M
12 – John R 14 – Thomas R
The visitors to the lane today were Witham Town Whites, a new challenge for the boys in orange as we had not faced this team before. The Piranhas were a little light in numbers with Harry H, Tom A and Zach L all away on international duty.
With the training facilities currently out of action, we had to try to get our messages across in the short warm-up session before the game. We were focusing on through passes and quick turns.
We sat the team down before the match and told them to forget the last game and concentrate on this one. We had a change in formation going with three at the back because we had felt the defenders were getting too isolated playing as a pair, so reinforcement was needed. The surface at the lane was looking good so we encouraged the boys to get the ball on the floor and play their passing football.
The team lined up with Russell L in goal. John R in the middle of defence with Sam M and Louis F either side of him. The midfield saw Rufus G in the middle, Cameron M on the right and Charlie W on the left. Charlie T played in the number ten role behind Thomas R up front. Leo M started on the bench for this one.
Referee for the day, Mark F, called in the two captains and the game got underway.
The first ten minutes were quite tight, with the Piranhas having more of the ball without really creating many chances. Witham had one or two snap shots but were soon to realise they needed to do something special to beat Russell L in the sticks. It was clear Russell was in the mood!
The only area that we have really worked with Russell on is his distribution of the ball which was first class today. He has clearly listened and improved this area of his game. I’m not sure there is a better keeper in our league at the moment. We certainly haven’t come across one.
The three at the back was working well and the extra cover provided the shield we needed. This was all being marshalled by John R who was imperious back there, keeping the defensive line organised. Add to that the tenacity of Louis F and Leo M and the raw pace of Sam M, this unit was looking strong. Going forward Thomas R was making sensible runs, but the ball just wasn’t finding its way through to him.
The Piranhas started to dominate the game in the midfield areas with the energetic Rufus G dictating play and the first goal soon came. A huge Charlie W throw in found Cameron M at the far post and he slotted home for the first goal. This seemed to spark some life into Witham and they had some good opportunities only to be thwarted by Russell L and the defenders.
The Piranhas kept playing their football and the second goal soon followed. It was a move straight from the warm-up session. Charlie T picked up the ball on the half-turn in the center circle, he lifted his head a played a slide rule pass splitting the defence finding Cameron M, whose run had beaten the offside trap. Cameron finished calmly with only the keeper to beat.
The team came in at half time and had played really well. They had created enough chances to be further ahead. We told them to keep playing in the same way and more chances would come their way. The defensive players of Louis F, Leo M, Sam M and especially John R had been outstanding in the first period.
The second half saw the Piranhas playing down the pitch and they really started to press Witham in. A corner was conceded by the Witham defence. Cameron M floated a ball in and from nowhere, up went Louis F who planted a bullet header into the top corner.
The team were starting to look comfortable now and Cameron M soon completed his hat-trick, nicking the ball off the defender from a pass out by the goalkeeper and running through to finish. Rufus G was desperate to get in on the act with a few shots that went just wide. He was getting closer and closer with each strike!
Witham were a little unlucky when a speculative effort from John R took a wicked deflection off the defender and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, but there was nothing lucky about number six for the Piranhas. Charlie W picked up the ball just inside the Witham half and ran past half the team. With one defender left to beat, Charlie unselfishly laid the ball to Thomas R who slotted into the corner.
With ten minutes left to play, the Piranhas got a little too confident and the concentration started to slip. Players were getting caught out of position and Witham scored four (yes 4) preventable goals. In truth the Whites had their tails up and it honestly looked like our boys were going to throw all of their hard work away. With Witham pressing though, Charlie T picked up the ball on the break-away and slammed into the Witham net to end any chance of a come back.
It was a great Piranhas performance for fifty minutes, however, we had to remind the team they need to concentrate right up until the last minute. They were a little lucky not to throw it away today. Well done to Witham on a spirited fight back. We wish them well for the season ahead.
MOTM today went to Cameron M. Cameron worked extremely hard today and was rewarded with a great hat-trick. Great Team Mate was John R. John was outstanding in defence and had really taken on board and demonstrated what we asked him to do.
Thanks to Mark F, whose refereeing display got him a special mention from the opposition manager and thanks to Scott R for picking up the flag. Thanks, as always to Ross for his help with the boys and to the Piranhas faithful – out in full voice as always!
Well done lads!
Next match – v Braintree Town Irons. KO and venue TBC.