So we started the game with Dylan in goal, Jack, Elliott, Liam, Aidan, Caleb and Freddie with Harry and Josh both starting from the bench. Even from KO it appeared that this was going to be an even game. With the opposition having three good football players within their ranks, so it was going to be an interesting test for the Sharks being devoid of both their main goal threats.
I changed positions of a few players to try and get some energy into the middle of field, swapping Elliott with Jack from being the last man in defense to a central midfield role to provide energy and carry some goal threat. This was challenging enough as this was asking the lads to do something that they haven’t done before.
Aidan and Liam provided good width which made the team look solid though little light upfront. With Freddie coming back from international duty he looked a little out of sync with the team, but I have no fear that this won’t last too long.
The game ebbed and flowed, with neither team managing to take control, but the opposition were looking the most likely to score. Against the run of play the Sharks managed to score a goal out of nowhere. Elliot, working in midfield role this time, broke the play deep into the opposition’s half and the ball somehow made its way out to the left hand side to Liam, who drove past one player and took his shot early as he was being closed down by ongoing defenders. This early shot took the opposition goalkeeper by surprise as it went into the bottom hand corner to give us the lead.
With few chances for both teams, the defense and midfield battles were hotting up and challenges were coming thick and fast. It was again, in all honesty, the opposition that was on top, as the Sharks were not able to get up the field to relieve the pressure that was mounting. Dylan had been brave a number of times already, diving at on coming player’s feet to claim the ball and pull off some good saves too.
Elliott, Harry and Jack stood tall at the back and defended well limiting the opposition to only a few clear chances that they pasted up thankfully.
So the first half came to the close and the Sharks were holding on, but only just. We had something to protect and I attended to ensure that were going to try do everything to keep it.
In our pep talk we managed to relay the positions again and what we expected so the second half got underway with the Sharks looking to protect and maybe extend our lead.
Josh and Harry both starting growing in the second half of this challenging game. Josh had his best game to date, managed to chase most balls and even hurried forward and had a decent shot on goal as well, so a massive well done to him. Harry found his feet and learned his positional play, getting involved and making some important challenge’s to break up the play.
The first chance again fell to the opposition, with a looping shot that appeared to have beaten Dylan but was cleared off the line by a stunning defensive header preserving our lead for the time being.
The opposition pushed the Sharks back and tried to break us down but we stood firm and defended in numbers making it as hard as possible for them to get a clear shot on goal.
By this time both Elliott and Jack has resumed their natural positions, and were aided by Aidan, Liam, Freddie and Caleb all working very hard to break up field to try and extend our lead and make life a little more comfortable.
This nearly came with a rare venture up field; Elliott once again provided the injection of energy needed to break through the opposition’s defensive line, and passed the ball to Freddie who controlled the ball well, created a little bit of space and took a shot. The keeper saved it but never managed to collect it, so Freddie was able to have another go, this time it came back off the post. This bounced straight to Elliott who was steaming into the box. He struck the ball well but the keeper, once again, made a fantastic save, and the chance was over.
The game continued in the same fashion, the opposition pushing forward and the Sharks defending stoutly, with the whole team doing extremely well they deserved the lead that they had been protecting for nearly the whole game.
As the game was about to finish, the boys were tired, because the pitch was heavy and they had worked so hard in this game, the opposition got one final chance, they broke down our left hard side, and had a decent shot on goal, which Dylan denied brilliantly and Sharks survived another scare.
So the full time whistle blew, and the Sharks had managed to see out the game and protect the one goal that they had scored. A massive well done to all the boys, not the free scoring games that we are used to but happy with the clean sheet and how the boys dug in and protected this lead.
So onto next week, and we will look to build on this result.