The u12s today had a tough fixture against league leaders, Harvesters North, but came away with pride intact after a relatively solid performance.
Harvesters have yet to drop a point in the league and have won their last 3 league games by 3, 4 and 5 goal margins respectively.
As seems to be the Edgware way, we again gave away a very early goal after just a minute when the midfield got a little over excited, went chasing after the ball, losing their formation and allowing Harvesters to pass straight through the middle of us, switch the ball out wide and get an early cross in which, being slightly disoriented, James turned into our own net.
It is always interesting to see how the boys react to an early goal like that and, not for the first time, they did not put their heads down and just kept on going about their work.
The first half was characterised by some great passing movements by Harvesters as they moved the ball from left to right and back again, but we had a fair amount of the ball and in spells used it well. In fact there were short periods in that half when we dominated phases of play and were it maybe for a bit more composure in our final ball, we may have made more of it.
TJ in particular worked hard in the first half to ensure he saw a lot of the ball and many of our attacks stemmed in the half from him. Ben also seemed willing and able to get forwards more than expected from left back and on a couple of occasions helped remind us that we were very much in the game.
As it was, Harvesters are far from infallible and it was when they played just one too many cross-balls across their own goal area that James pounced to drive a shot with venom into the net to equalise the scores a minute or so before half-time to, for the second time this season, go into half-time 1 – 1 against Harvesters.
In the past it has always been the second half where we have suffered against Harvesters as all the running we have done in the first tends to catch up with us. This was again to be true, but it was disappointing that we conceded quite so early in the second half to give Harvesters a 2 – 1 lead. The second half was not dissimilar to the first in that Harvesters continued to play a very tidy passing game, but we regularly broke up play and again, at times, were threatening on the break.
That said, as legs began to tire, Harvesters were able to get more and more bodies forwards into attack and it felt inevitable when they went 3 – 1 up.
All that said, the boys kept playing football and after Luke broke up a Harvesters attack, it was TJ that put a through ball through for James, which whilst looking like being a tad too long, held up enough for James to latch onto it and finish neatly to take the score to 3 -2 (James 3rd goal of the game, albeit only 2 in the correct net! ).
With 8 or so minutes to go, we clearly felt we could really rattle Harvesters now and started to plan to move to a more attacking formation. Whether it was due to a lapse in our concentration or just the fact that Harvesters have a number of gears to go through, Harvesters restored their 2 goal lead before we could even make a change.
We did throw two boys up front in an attempt to claw back the game, but the whistle came a little too soon with the final score ending 4-2
It was a good game of football to watch and whilst we cannot argue that the best team won, we put in a solid performance and hopefully learned a lesson or two about how the game can be played.
Probably the most positive thing to come out of the game was to note that we scored twice against a team who have kept 5 clean sheets in their 8 league games this season, we do currently have the best goal difference of any team in the division against Harvesters and in scoring two goals, James is the first player to hit a brace against them this season.
Man of the match went to James for taking his opportunities when they came, something we have to do in the red division.