Respect Award – Morgan
What a difference a week can make! Different performance, same result. A much tighter and harder fought match was played between the Falcons and Rushmoor, one that was quite compelling, if a little frustrating for the legions of parents watching.
Given the amount of rain that has fallen this week, the pitch was in very good order and the sun decided to show itself just in time for the kick off. The Falcons lined up with the Secret Weapon in goal (AKA Morgan), Jack and Andrew resuming their usual defensive partnership, Anto, Harry and Liam in the middle with Luke as front man. From the kick off Rushmoor looked the most switched on of the two teams and soon they were pressurising the Falcon’s goal, but Jack, Morgan and Andrew were proving equal to the attacks that Rushmoor made. However Rushmoor were winning a lot of ball in the middle of the field and as soon as one attack had been quashed then another would materialise. The first quarter finished with a lot of good defensive work from the boys but not one shot on the Rushmoor goal.
For the second quarter Kenzie swapped with Jack and Andrew pushed up into the middle, with Harry dropping back. This provided a little more bite in midfield and between them, Kenzie, Andrew and Anto began to win a bit more ball from the Rhinos. The first meaningful shot from the Falcons came from the first decent passing move that they managed to fashion. The ball was won on the right by Liam after an amazing jinking turn; he flashed a low cross that evaded everyone before rolling to Harry on the left. He took a touch and let fly a glorious shot that just went the wrong side of the post. Morgan was also shining; dominating his area and making two good saves with his feet to deny shots from in the area. He was also getting hands to any ball in the area and was looking to release players quickly. Both teams were working hard to try and create chances but there was little room in the middle, or the ball was just not running either way. So the match reached half time goalless but with Rushmoor having had the better of the play.
There then followed a half time talk, reminiscent of the Phil Brown lecture on the pitch to Hull Fc, during which Matt and Trevor made clear how the team needed to play. Whatever was said clearly worked because it was a different team that came out for the third quarter. Liam went off and Jack returned to defence with Andrew. Liam, Luke and Anto pushed up and started to pressure the Rushmoor defence, making tackles and winning the ball in the final third. Chances fell to Luke and Liam but on both occasions they couldn’t find the room for a shot. Rushmoor were defending well, managing to get in blocks, tackles or steal the ball at vital moments. Just when it seemed no goals would ever go in the deadlock was broken. Andrew took a quick throw in from the left which cleared the defence and released Anto to run in on goal and calmly side foot the ball past the keeper for his 10th goal of the season! (Diego Costa has one less folks!) There could have been another a minute later when Anto broke through on the left after being put through by Harry. He moved into the area and shot low and hard – the keeper saved well into the path of Liam and Luke but the Rushmoor defence recovered really well and blocked off any shots. Defensively Andrew and Jack were coping well with the Rushmoor attacks and Morgan was quick to cover when needed. Thus the quarter ended with the Falcons just ahead.
It was Andrew’s turn to take a rest for the last quarter with Kenzie slotting in to defence with Jack. What followed was an incessant wave of attacks from Rushmoor, who were desperate to get back on terms, which the Falcons struggled to cope with. Jack and Kenzie were forced into a series of desperate tackles, with Harry coming back to cover as well at times as the Rushmoor midfield broke at speed towards the goal. They were able to put a series of excellent shots in at Mytchett’s goal but Morgan was equal to all of them; making a series of athletic saves to thwart the attackers. It seemed that with him in goal they couldn’t even buy a goal. Anto also contributed with some good defensive headers at corners which cleared the lines well. However it was edge of the seat stuff and it seemed only a matter of time before Rushmoor scored as the Falcons shape began to look a bit ragged. So it was a great surprise to all when Mytchett broke on the right; Kenzie put a ball through to Luke, he missed his first touch but turned and won the ball back, poking it towards Anto. He shifted the ball onto his right foot, pushed into the area and buried another good shot to increase the lead to 2 goals. In all honesty it was really harsh on Rushmoor, but very well taken none the less. The rest of the quarter was a lot more even, the game opened up. Luke was released through on goal twice but each time the ball was just too strong for him to reach. Eventually the referee brought the match to a close and a very hard won victory was in the bag.
There was none of the fluid passing play from last week, and arguably they missed Joe’s combative tackling in midfield, but the boys did show a lot of effort and heart to fashion a win against a good Rushmoor team. It is the mark of a good team to play badly and win, this week the boys didn’t play really badly, but they didn’t match the high standards set at Bourne. There were some good performances from some of the team but they all kept going and were determined to get a result. Jack deservedly won MoM for a solid defensive showing and Morgan nicked the Respect award from Anto for his outstanding goalkeeping in the final quarter.