Repeat Derby today and the wind and mud made this game even more titanic than the previous league meeting.
We started with Josh, Wiliam, Cullen, Angus and Jess with Bastien, Maksim & Henry ready to come on. The wind and mud made Laundry Lane a challenging environment (not least parking in the car park before the game !). We chose to go against the slope and wind and although we started well, with some early passing, we went behind to a sloppy goal. Undeterred the Vikings rallied and demonstrated that they are a team that want to develop.
Very early, I knew we were on to a winning game as the controlled passing was excellent, players conciously looking for each other and being confident to play the ball on the ground. Cullen and Agust were awesome at the back, both defending and sweeping, converting defense into attack. William's pace was on fire and when they couldn't make it he did, up and down consistently. Jess was a like a terrier, in teh thick of it and wasnt backing down, showing her agility and tenacity in the challenges. In my view, against the run of play, we gave them an Own Goal from a corner, a deflection from us which Josh managed to get to but the wind took it just over the line.
Heads held up pleasingly and after a wonderful 1 on 1 saving tackle from Cullen, to keep the score down, William was majestic and after rounding two players smashed a shot into the net. That was the signal. Keeping Cullen on but bringing in Maksim, Henry & Bastien, we looked even stronger at the back and we started to control the breaks. Cullen stopped an attack on the edge of our area and proceeded to run the length of the pitch under challenge before slotting home in the bottom corner. One of the best and strongest minded goals this year.
Rhodes continued to attempt to overturn and they played some great passing and probing and their players should take a lot of credit to their approach. Josh had to be on hand to bloke and a number of chances, including a 1 on 1. He played his part like the outfield players.
Level at half time against the wind and slope was a great result. Coming out the Vikings were in the ascendancy. Maksim had a great game, linking up , passing, defending and shooting. I was very impressed by his step up and he was on fire. Rightly so , he cut in from the edge of the area after some nice link up play and cooly slotted home. No surprise, a rightly deserved goal for his all round gameplay.
Henry was another unsung hero today. Probably our most competent player with the ball at his feet. His composure really set us up well on a number of occasions. Numerous passes and runs helped us all over the park. Being in the lead made Rhodes continue their attack. Angus and Cullen pulled out man of the match awards and to be honest I think between then they stopped about 8 chances, some as the last man. Jess took the game to them and had about 3 nice long range efforts on the run. I was really pleased as the confidence to do this was evident and it continued to ask them questions.
Bastien was another that over the weeks has been so consistent and man, is he quick. Today we again saw his ability to break free and dribble around the others before laying off for a team mate. His confidence and skill are tricky for any team in this division and a pleasure to watch. We wrapped the game up with William. Their Goalie threw out, William intercepted and from just after the half way line, looked up and dinked a great chip into the waiting net. Before the end , they could have scored but Josh, being Josh, pounced on the shot and got the ball stopped on the line. Their attacker then kicked trhough Josh's hands and the ref rightly called the clear foul. All in all so proud of the team today and 8 man/women of the match for the passing, tackling, finding space and listening to the last 3 weeks of training.