3 – Louis F 8 – Charlie W
4 – Tom A 9 – Zach L
5 – Leo M 10 – Charlie T
6 – Harry H 11 – Sam M
7 – Cameron M
This fixture would provide a new challenge for both teams. In preparation for next season, we had agreed to play 9 v 9 with the bigger pitch, bigger goals and all the associated rules, including the dreaded offside!
Friday night in training was spent talking to the team about the new rules and as they do every week, the team surprised me with how much they already knew and one or two (Leo M) took a particular interest and went away to watch YouTube videos about the offside rule!
With Ross M away on club ambassadorial duty, Mark F kindly stepped in to help with the team and of course we needed a linesperson, which Christian L kindly stepped up for.
The other part of the game where the team would see a big change was from goal kicks as the opposition no longer had to retreat to the half way line. The Piranhas did not want to change their footballing style but playing from the back would now be harder. It meant that player movement was key.
After a final word to everyone from the referee, Wilvale got the match underway.
There was a real air of uncertainty as the game kicked off, but the Piranhas early shape looked good and the team, looking resplendent in blue, had the better of the early exchanges. The back three looked comfortable with Leo M taking charge through the middle and Louis F and Sam M keeping activity down the Wilvale flanks to a minimum.
Tom A looked like that defensive midfield role was made for him and was his usual combative self, preventing Wilvale attacks from developing. This allowed Zach L to get on the ball and weave his magic on the left, causing Wilvale problems but finding the additional defensive players difficult when it came to finding the final ball.
Harry H started to get some possession, showing some nice tricks and turns, helping to feed Cameron M who battled down the right. Charlie W was a menace up front, not giving Wilvale any peace.
The team did not look like they were struggling at all with the new shape and every player knew his role. We had to pull the defensive line up on the odd occasion which is to be expected as they are used to having a striker sitting behind them with no fear of offside! When the team did step up, Wilvale were caught offside on one or two occasions.
Despite a great start from the team, it was Wilvale who scored first. On a rare occasion that they were able to find a cross from the right, their striker was on hand to stab home. Charlie T’s first real action was to pick the ball out of the net! The Piranhas also had a couple of good chances and were denied on occasion by the offside flag.
The half time whistle went and we pulled the lads in. We heaped praise on all of them and asked them to be a bit braver when in possession of the ball. A couple of changes meant that Tom A went in goal, Harry H dropped into the defensive midfield role with Charlie T heading up the diamond.
The changes did not affect the flow of the game with both teams putting in a performance. During an early exchange, Wilvale managed to get another goal and it would have been easy for heads to drop but far from it. The Piranhas continued to dig deep. The defensive unit of Leo M, Sam M and Louis F were really getting into the game now, pushing up from deep with Louis F taking on the responsibility of making an extra man at corners.
Harry H was pushed slightly further up than Tom A in the first half and this was enabling the attacks to start higher up the pitch. Charlie T was getting on the ball and feeding his wingers, Zach L and Cameron M.
The team soon got the goal they deserved when Charlie T picked up the ball in the middle and went out to the left, he beat a defender then played a left foot cross which found Charlie W in acres of space, A neat finish from Charlie W left the keeper with no chance.
The team had their tails up now and a this allowed Wilvale a little more space to forge attacks. Tom A made a couple of smart saves but could do nothing about Wilvale’s third goal.
The Piranhas ‘never-say-die’ attitude kicked in and when Charlie T was awarded a free kick around 15 yards from goal, they sensed an opening. Charlie T played the free-kick into the box and a slight deflection saw the ball land in front of Harry H who calmly lifted the ball over the keeper.
The team were fired up, geeing each other up with encouraging shouts and it was attack after attack now as the end of the game approached. Goal number three soon followed when some good work from Cameron M saw the ball bobble around on the left. Zach L took control of the situation and finished to net his fourth goal in four games. The team were delighted.
The final whistle went on an exhilarating game. Both teams could be really proud of their performances and if that is what we can expect from every game, roll on next season!
Thanks very much to Wilvale for agreeing to the 9 v 9 and for giving both teams the opportunity to gain from the experience. We look forward to doing battle again in the near future.
Thanks to the Piranhas travelling support, enduring another cold morning. Thanks to Mark F for helping me out and of course, thanks to Christian L for running the line. Without these volunteers we wouldn’t have a match to play.
Well Done Lads!
Next Match: 29th April.
Home v SWF Pumas. KO – 11.30am.