Mud, mud, glorious mud – u16s white
“Mud, mud, glorious mud”
A relatively mild winters day saw us travel to far flung Enfield to face Olympiacos in the League.
Last minute withdrawals meant that James and Chike were unable to play and it was therefore fortuitous that our new signing, Denzil Wellington, was available as even with our latest acquisition, we were down to 12 players.
Indeed, a big welcome to Denzil who played only 15 minutes after meeting his new team mates for the first time.
As the heading suggests the pitch was, to say the least, a quagmire. Heavy, sticky and churned up.
Jamie Alexander, our coach had given the team instructions on a game plan to combat the Olympiacos wingers who had caused us so many problems in our previous encounter, which notwithstanding the final result, was to a large extent effective.
It was clear from the kick off this was going to be a match which would not only test the mental resilience of the team but also our stamina. The early forays were mainly into our box, Shaan and Jake defending a number of early corners. The early pressure was intense and after 15 minutes Olympiacos got the opening goal followed by two more within 15 minutes.
3-0 down after 30 minutes and I feared the worst, however the boys heads didn’t drop and they kept scrapping away, Ethan and Joel working tirelessly in central midfield to provide a barrier in front of the back four. As the game wore on both Rambo and Denzil who were playing at full back were getting to grips with both the conditions and their opposition wingers and we were starting to create the odd goal chance.
Daeshaun and Jake E were deployed on the wings but with instructions to track back to help out the full backs and to their credit they did so, albeit at the cost of losing some of our attacking threat which left Conall a little isolated up front against two six foot centre-halves but nonetheless, he gave them plenty to think about for the entire 80 minutes !!
However, thanks to a couple of good saves from Alex and some great last ditch defending we reached half time with the score unchanged at 3-0.
Encouragement and H2O were dispensed in equal measure during the break.
The team responded well and as the second half started the tide began to turn, and after 5 minutes into the half Zack latched onto a rebound with an instinctive right foot volley to bring us back into contention.
Olympiacos still looked dangerous but similarly our defence had heeded Jamie’s instructions and were now restricting the Olympiacos wingers to playing the ball infield to the centre of the pitch, which enabled us to crowd out their attacks.
As the game wore on the heavy conditions were clearly sapping energy levels, Dean was introduced to inject some fresh legs on the left wing, which he did admirably.
Despite the tiredness we were starting to look more dangerous and it was clear that the next goal would be decisive. It was then that the ref gave what, in my opinion at least, was a rather soft penalty, the forward going to ground after an innocuous tackle on the edge of the box. Our complaints fell unsurprisingly on deaf ears.
Duly despatched, and with a three goal margin once again established it was clear that our chance of a comeback had gone.
Full time score 4-1 but the team can take great credit from a battling performance and, dubious penalty apart, we won the second half battle, although not the match points.
Next weekend we have the Edgware Town derby when we face the Red Squad at Silver Jubilee Park.
As a final thought on today, great commitment in poor conditions and we are clearly moving in the right direction.
Gary Green (Manager)
ETFC U/16 WHITE