Saturday 12th November 2005
Barry Bundock West Kent Challenge Shield
By Shaun Keddle
An average performance spoilt by silly mistakes and a poor final 20 minutes.
Going into this match we were aware that Phoenix were a good footballing side with plenty of pace and movement, but another strength they possess is based on players doing the jobs that they are told, listening and responding to what the guys on the sideline are asking them to do. They are a comfortable side who score many goals from training ground set pieces which all come from playing to their strength. Despite this, we knew we could give these guys a run for their money as we had a good side available with some good options on the bench.
The game started relatively well for us with some good football from both sides. Both sides missed good chances before Gary Harrigan cracked in a terrific volley from outside the box, beating the keeper at his near post. A great goal to go 1-0 up. The famous last words of ''we''ve never been beaten when we have scored first since I took over the side'' were spoken and promptly swallowed when Phoenix scored from a rehearsed short corner. From a managerial point of view it was such a stupid goal to give away. Last season they ruined us twice by using the same ball - on the deck and the runner meets the ball at the front post. We spoke about it to every individual and we spoke about it as a team we had a plan in place to counteract this, but nobody responded to the words I spoke and as a result it was 1-1. Phoenix then had their confidence up and were starting to go at us down the flanks where we are usually very strong. Right on half time, Phoenix got the goal they were looking for after a loose ball and poor defending saw their nippy forward nudge the ball past Jumbo and walk the ball into an empty net. Not the type of scenario we wanted just before the half.
At the half we again spoke about players not being sharp enough on their defensive duties, but also not taking their chances.
The second half started very well for us and we responded to the team talk. Four good chances came and went and we were completely dominant for the first 20 minutes. But when you are dominant, you must score so you have something to show for your efforts, but we failed time and time again to hit the target again opting for the pass when we should have been greedy or deciding on the power option when accuracy is a far more effective way of putting the ball in the net. The killer goal came with about 25 minutes to go which really killed us off and ended the game as a competition and a second round exit from the cup. We pretty much gave up in the last 20 and Phoenix could and should have scored more although any further score would not have reflected a fair result across the entire match.
Lots to learn from this. We have got to start putting in to action the things that we talk about - don''t just nod and agree, go out and actually do it. Phoenix utilised their wide players well, but energetic performances from their full backs who were always wanting the ball and overlapping with their respective wingers, helped them do this. Their clever movement and pace up front always created a good option, and for a relatively small side, they held the ball very well - again an example set to us which gave them a breather, a chance to organise and recoup and to invite other players to join in the play.
Gary Harrigan walked away with my MOM and the players MOM award with around half the votes. Jumbo in goal picked up a few as he did not make any mistakes.
Out of two cups now and now the tried and tested cliché of ''concentrating on the league'' needs to bear fruit. We have Addeyans at HOME, the first time we have played there for five weeks. It is a must win game and we must play to our strengths. Addeyans appear to be very inconsistent this season and we must take advantage of this. Again selections have been difficult this week, but these type of scenarios is what a manager begs for, but it has taken us to mid November before we get full availability, something we have to rectify if we are ever going to achieve anything. Think ahead and avoid booking things during the season, everyone says they want to win, but the root cause to many of our problems lies in the hands of the players themselves - availability.
Let''s get our season back on track, the next month is make or break for us.