With eight of the squad available today - therefore one sub - it was going to be a quick turnaround of players throughout the game.
After the warm up, the boys lined up with Captain for the day Spencer Storey meeting the referee and opposition captain at the centre circle for pre-match formalities.
With the boys all in their positions - with Freddie G in goal - the game kicked off.
The home team started quickly, with the Stingrays off the pace in the early exchanges. With the Stingrays failing to play to their normal level, Freddie G was busy in goal, making some great saves and blocks from some early Tollesbury efforts. The first half continued in much the same way - the Stingrays were not on their game - most likely a hangover from the previous day’s Arsenal tournament at the Emirates stadium.
Although the boys were not playing to their usual standard, the effort was still there to see, and the boys were unlucky with two efforts that came off the opposition woodwork from Ryan E and Sam S - so it was not all one way.
It was no surprise though that the home team took the advantage with a couple of goals to take them into a first half lead of 2-0 - probably about fair on the balance of play.
With half time called, it was a chance for the boys to take on some refreshments and to re-group. With the score as it stood, the boys were still in the game but needed to put in a better performance in the second half.
With Ryan E putting on the gloves, the second half kicked off. The Stingrays started brightly, the break seeming to do them the world of good.
With 4 minutes gone, the boys pulled one back. With the team working hard to gain possession, the ball was picked up by Ollie W near the half way line. With a driving run forward, Ollie beat three players with his quick feet to carry the ball to the edge of the box before placing a side foot shoot into the corner of the goal. 2-1.
With 7 minutes gone, the home team regained their two-goal advantage, but the boys were not disheartened and continued to push, playing their brand of passing football, from front to back. The midfield three of Sam S, Christian J and Ollie W were working well with Freddie G leading the line, putting pressure on the home team and creating chances.
The game continued with the Stingrays playing well, but having to be aware of the Tollesbury long ball into their Pacey striker. George D, Oliver R and Spencer S were working hard to contain probably the quickest and most skilful striker they’d played against this season - it was a good challenge for the boys.
On 19 minutes, the Stingrays pulled another one back. Ollie W picked up the ball on the left hand side, beat three players and placed his shot in off the far right hand post. 3-2 and the boys were right back in it. On 22 minutes, the Stingrays drew level. Freddie G picked up the ball outside the box and unleashed a long-range shot that was too hot to handle for the Tollesbury keeper - 3-3 - and just what the boys deserved with the effort they had shown in the second half.
With the game seeming to be drawing to a close with honours even, there was heartbreak for the Stingrays. In the final minute, another long ball from the home team that was heading out towards the right side of the pitch was hit first time by their striker a good 30 yards from goal, which looped straight over Ryan and into the far corner. It was a fantastic finish - nothing that Ryan could have done to stop it - and with no time left to respond, it was the deciding goal in this close encounter.
A disappointing finish for the Stingrays who had worked so hard to get back into the game. With the boys off the pace in the first half, which I am sure was due to the previous days tournament, having arrived at the Emirates at 7am plus the excitement of the day (I know their manager was very tired!!) this was a tough game for the boys against one of the stronger teams in our division. Nevertheless, the boys did not give up on the game and showed their true class by playing exceptionally well in the second half, but were ultimately undone by the long ball and a pacey striker.
At the end of the game, the opposition manager stated we are the best team they had played this season - a great compliment to all the boys.
MotM was the team. They all stuck together to do their best to help the team, and even though it was not quite enough to get the result we wanted, the team spirit was still there for all to see.
Well played to all the boys - a great game to watch.
Next match: Home vs Great Bradford Jet. Sunday 20th May 2018. 11am KO.