Saturday 22nd April 2006
By Shaun Keddle
Our fourth successive win against decent opposition.
Yet again more chaos before this match with an injury and unavailable list that looks like a decent six-a-side team. Dawson, Ford, Pester and Benningfield all unavailable with Davis and Connelly both injured. However, despite this it was the first time ever as first team manager that I had the chance to pick the same team two weeks in a row. Consistency has been the key over the last month and the success of that has been reflective in results. We haven’t had the most players about recently, but the ones we have had have been a consistent spine to the team, but it does limit my options for substitutions at important times of the match.
The match started and we lined up with St John in goal, a back four of Small, Connor, Clark & Wright, McGloughlin and Whiteway in the middle with Pester & Williams (jnr) making up the wide positions, leaving Williams (snr) and Harrigan up front. Wickham Park lined up with plenty of goalscorers in attacking positions with three of their players with plenty of goals to their names and one being the highest goalscorer in the league. Their midfield also looked lively, but their back line looked a little old in places which signified to us that that there could be weaknesses for us to expose.
Although neither team had a great deal to play for, the game started brightly and competitively by both sides with either side going close early on and Park hitting the post from a 25 yard screamer which left St John stranded. Midway through the half a good run down the left hand side by Pester picked out Williams at the front post who headed well into the far corner, a great move and a great finish. Not too long later Wickham Park equalised after a handling error by St John on the goal line, not sure who got the final touch on the ball to end up in the net. In all fairness this is his first error all season and the error was lost in the midst of the final score line.
Our second goal came just before the break, one of the most vital times to score. A cross into the box caused confusion and left Harrigan with an easy finish. Despite us being a goal to the good, the half finished quite evenly.
At the half we spoke about playing with our heads as the day was quite hot and energy draining. We spoke about letting the ball do the work and letting them chase the game as it was them that was behind. The second half went according to plan and our forwards really started to take advantage of a tiring Wickham defence. Tired legs and injuries in our own team led to the substitution of Pester for Carpenter on 55 mins and Connor for Clark (jnr) on 65mins. On 70 mins Williams latched onto a through ball and calmly finished with aplomb into the bottom corner giving us the much needed two goal cushion. With only a few minutes left clever work by Carpenter put Williams through again who outpaced the Wickham defence, rounded the keeper and slotted in to complete his hat trick.
In the end it was a comfortable win, but was made difficult by a lively and resilient Wickham midfield and a strike force that was always a danger. Our defence was once again extremely mean and thwarted most chances only allowing Park the odd chance here and there. The only goal in free play that we have conceded in four matches came from a handling error on the line, a positive sign that we can defend admirably against high scoring teams and high scoring individuals. Our midfield kept battling and never gave up, a couple of times we were caught high up the Park, but this was identified in the first half and rectified in the second half. Our centre forwards took complete advantage of an older and changed Wickham defence with Williams and Harrigan walking away with all the goals.
MOM votes were spread, my vote went with Williams (snr) as he did net a hat trick, but the eventual winner being Clark (snr), who just edged out Small (maybe if he dished out his pocket money sweets BEFORE kick off the voting may have been swayed. If you really want to fix the voting I am very partial to fizzy cola bottles, Macey likes doughnuts and Benny is addicted to Nicorrettes).
Obviously after the match we had a quick meeting and I never really got a chance to praise some of the performances out on the pitch. The defence was once again awesome in coping with a potent strike force, limiting Park to only a few chances. Despite an early error, St John in goal was solid and reliable. Tony and Kevin in the middle really started to get the better of a very good Park midfield in the second half with Jamie and Pester always an option down the flanks. Williams up front looked razor sharp with his finishing and played with a lot of confidence. Harrigan was once again very instrumental in all our attacking play. And a special mention to Carpenter who really did look as though he had something to prove on Saturday and played very well when he came on (this was probably due to the special prep talk and confidence boost from myself and Connelly!).
Our last match this season will see us travel to Addeyans. We have a very strong squad this week and expectations will be high. We need to finish this season positively. We can finish fourth (fifth, more realistically) which although will be disappointing for the season as a whole, will be quite an achievement, considering we have won four games on the trot and conceded only two goals. If we can beat Addeyans, we will end the season on a high and give us a good base to start the following season with.
On another note, a couple of things; first of all, the end of season do will be this Sunday with a 1.00pm meet at the sports club, after a few drinks in the bar we shall proceed to where ever we see fit, even if it means dismantling Henry’s wine bar for the sixth season in a row.
Secondly, training will continue across the summer months every Wednesday from 7pm until it gets dark. This will not be training as such, more of a warm-up and a game. This is not compulsory, just a bit of a laugh. Pre-season training will start on Saturday 1st July at 1.30pm and will continue every Saturday and Wednesday night up until the season starts. This is compulsory and won''t be a laugh!! There will be a few surprises chucked in as well, friendlies will be arranged throughout August as well as a 5-a-side tournament nearer the season’s commence. As discussed at the meeting ALL players who would like to be considered for first team football should attend both sessions as regularly as possible as the train to play policy comes into effect, and I can use this rule to my advantage if I so wish. If you do not attend the sessions provided, please do not expect to be selected. Of course as the season unfolds, players will be playing for places, but regularity and consistency are key factors for success, and I do reward loyalty.
I have a real good feeling about next season. Potentially, with the selection policy maybe changing, plus the talk of a couple of good new players adding to the squads, things look good for both first and reserve teams. If you know any players of any levels willing to play for the club, bring them down or let myself and Vic know, we have 7 teams down the club which can cater for all levels of football as well as social members. Again, I will stress that success does rely on the player’s availability, commitment and attendance at matches. Success at FOBG is down to the player’s attitude. Manage your own lifestyles accordingly to ensure that you attend both training and matches as often as possible. I cannot highlight this point enough.
It’s over to you…………