From the start, our visitors were on top, with the Stingrays struggling to get going. The majority of the early action was in the Stingrays half with the opposition playing good football, and being strong in the tackle when losing the ball. Though the visitors had a strong start, they were unable to break down a resolute Stingrays, with strong defending from all the team, but in particular from our back two - George W and George D who stood firm against the early onslaught, and Freddie G in between the sticks stopping a couple of good long range efforts with ease.
Eventually, the Stingrays got going and the game evened out. The midfield three of Ollie W, Christian J and Sam S started to get possession of the ball and played some nice give and go football, playing into Ryan E when possible who was leading the line. There was not much joy for the Stingrays in the final third though, with strong and tight defending from the opposition.
With 13 minutes played though, the first real clear-cut chance of the game fell to the Stingrays. With Ollie W and Christian J working the ball down the left, Christian carried the ball into the box and along the by-line, playing a pass into Ryan E who from 2 yards out, scooped the ball over the Hawks keeper. 1-0 Stingrays.
Soon after, Oliver R & Spencer S came on; taking up positions in defence, and Jasiu C joined the midfield. All three boys immediately got into their stride and continued the good work of the players they replaced.
The half progressed without any further clear chances for either team, with the Stingrays working their socks off against a big, physical and mobile opposition - but were matching them in all departments.
Half time. 1-0 Stingrays.
After refuelling with a drink and a Jaffa cake, the half time chat was to carry on the good work, continuing to keep position, pressing the opposition and working hard. It was clear that to get a result against the visitors, the team could not let their performance levels slip.
Ryan E put on his gloves and took up his position between the sticks, with Freddie G now leading the line.
Our visitors kicked off the second half, and the game continued pretty much as it did in the first, with very little with regard chances created by either team, with the hard work continuing by all the boys on the pitch. As the half progressed though, probably due to tired legs, the game opened up a little, with the Stingrays becoming the more dominant team. In the last 10 minutes, the Stingray had 3 or 4 good chances, with only last ditch goalkeeping preventing the boys notching a second.
The final whistle came, much to the relief of a group of very tired Stingrays!
The boys knew they had been in a battle today, but they had played fantastically, matching the opposition’s hard work and physicality, but also playing good football from front to back.
MotM was Freddie G. Keeping a clean sheet in the 1st half with a couple of good saves from long range efforts, but mostly earned for a 2nd half performance leading the line, where he also worked tirelessly coming back to help his team mates in midfield and defence, which was required in this game. He was also very unlucky not to add to the score line with an excellent effort towards the end, only for the Goalkeeper to pull out an excellent save. Well deserved Freddie, a great performance!
Well done to all the boys. It was a real tough physical game, but all the boys stepped up and performed, earning a well-deserved positive result to continue the 2018 winning streak.
Thanks to Kevin for another excellent referring performance and thanks to those who helped set up & put away the goals, corner flags and respect line.
Next match: Sunday 11th February. Away vs Silver End. KO TBC.