What with a slow start in the league, today’s clashed at Alexandra Park was a bottom of the table clash with both teams having everything to play for.
With a very strong wing blowing the length of the pitch, it was clear at the outset that the team that took advantage of that the best would no doubt turn out victors, and it is fair to say that that was indeed the case.
We started well by winning the toss and elected to play with the wind. It was immediately clear just what an impact the wind would have on the game as for the first five or so minutes, Alexandra Park simply could not clear the ball out of their own half.
With the wind to our back we were able to pick up possession with relative ease and in those opening minutes created one or two chances.
As has been the case previously, we got a little carried away with the possession and with far too many of the mid-field pushing forwards into attacking positions, it was not entirely surprising when Alexandra Park hit us on the break with at least two extra men and registered the first goal of the game.
We did continue to take advantage of the wind and having won a number of corners, Adam delivered one of his trademark crosses, this time for TJ to meet with a solid attacking header to take the score line to 1 – 1.
At that point, we should have kicked on and made the most of the wind by pressing them every time they got the ball given they were still struggling to get our of their half.
Instead, we stood off the ball , did not press them at all in the final third of the pitch and effectively nullified the effect of the wind, allowing them all the time in the world to play the ball out of their half.
With us allowing them to play on equal terms, we then started to make silly errors, challenges that did not need to be made and again losing our shape in the middle of the park. This gave Alexandra Park far more possession than they should have had and, given that they could finish when asked, they first took a lead at 2 – 1 and then completed the half at 3 -1
The second half was always going to be a tough one as we were now playing into the wind and it proved as much with Alexandra Park regularly pushing forwards with attacks.
We actually weathered it very well and even better when we moved to play only two at the back to allow us to play with a second striker in search of anything we could find.
Ollie, Barsa and Keiran made some tremendous stops in that second half to avoid us conceding again but it was only in the last five minutes that we actually threatened their goal and that was not enough to change the result.
Ultimately, a good battling second half, but gave the game away in the first half through lack of endeavour and wanting to win the game.