GK - Charlie W
DEF - Tom A (C), Leo M
MID - Etien H, Harry H, Cameron M
STR - Charlie T
The lads had their first training session of the year the day before and they all looked fully rested and ready for battle. The lads had clearly not over-indulged over the festive period. I’m not sure the same could be said for the supporters!!
The team welcomed a new member in Leo M today after a deadline day scramble meant a fee was agreed and the papers were all signed in time for Leo to make his debut. The plan was to start with Leo on the bench to allow him to see the way the team play, however, Sam M failed a late fitness test which meant Leo taking a starting position alongside the experienced Tom A at center half.
The lads went through their warm-up routines and were looking fresh and ready to go! Skipper for the day was birthday boy Tom A who went up for the coin toss. The Pumas got the game underway.
The Piranhas had a slightly slow start to the match and the impressive Maldon team had the better early attacks, one in particular which saw the striker one on one with Charlie W. Charlie pulled off an outstanding save, showing his reflexes haven’t been affected by the Christmas break.
It wasn’t long before the boys found their rhythm and the passing football started to flow. Harry H in the middle of the park was pulling the strings, trying to get balls through to Charlie T. Charlie was struggling to get the ball in threatening positions because of the really well organised Maldon defence.
Etien H and Cameron M provided really good width and both were battling really hard, looking to get control of the ball. Tom A and Leo M in the heart of the defence were building up a real solid partnership with Tom staying central and Leo hunting the ball down.
The break through finally came from great build up. As always, the Piranhas were looking to play out from the back. Charlie W played the ball into Tom A, Tom played the ball into Charlie T who had dropped in to get involved. Charlie found Harry H who spotted Cameron M on the move, Harry played a perfectly weighted ball into Cameron who ran onto it and fired home. A lovely goal!
The Piranhas saw the half out impressively.
At half time, Etien H switched with Charlie W in goal. The message to lads was to carry on as they were, trying to pass the ball out from the back and protect their goalkeeper by closing the ball down.
Etien always tells me he’s no good in goal but when called upon, he made an outstanding save to keep the Piranhas’ lead intact, showing just how good a keeper he is! Charlie W carried on where Etien left off out on pitch, showing his boundless energy to get up and down, supporting in both attack and defence.
The team continued to play their passing game right up until the last minutes of the match, however, it was clear the boys were getting tired. No surprise considering they had no subs and it was their first match for three weeks. Chances came their way; they just couldn’t get the decisive second goal.
The lads seemed determined to hold on to their lead despite coming under a bit of pressure towards the end of the match and then with around two minutes to go the Pumas equalised when a cross looked to be in both hands of Etien in goal when the Pumas attacker forced the ball over the line. The referee gave the goal and the momentum was suddenly with the side from Maldon.
Maldon got a free kick right on the edge of the box and smashed a shot towards goal. The Piranhas’ looked like they had defended it brilliantly when the loose ball dropped straight at the feet of a Pumas’ player and he buried it. With the resulting KO the ref blew the final whistle and the game was over. It was a real shame that the team were coming off to such a defeat. In truth, the team had defended so well that besides an early save from both, our keepers hardly had a touch of the ball.
I am really proud of the effort these boys put in every single week. They are determined and battle to the last minute of every match, despite being really tired at the end of matches. I am gutted for them that the game ended the way it did but they always come off smiling. They laughed and joked amongst themselves as they enjoyed nuggets and chips kindly provided by Maldon at the end.
Well done to Maldon & Tiptree Pumas, a really good side. The manager said we are the best team he’s played against at U9’s and I also say they are the best we have played in this league!
MOTM for the game was Leo M. Leo was chucked in at the deep end but you would never have guessed it was his debut.
He looked comfortable in that orange shirt (even if it was a little big!) as if he’d been a Piranha for years!
He showed real defensive quality and was not afraid to get stuck in for his team.
Thanks to Ross for his help with the boys and thanks, as always, to the loyal Piranhas supporters. Well Done lads!