After a week of nursing bruises, we were at home again, this time to Bilborough. Last time we played them, the match was separated by a single goal, a narrow 0-1 defeat that would have been cruel on either side. We were severely depleted today, with only one sub. The line-up was Oscar in goal, a back three of Sammy, James C in a mostly unfamiliar position (more on that later) in the middle of defence and Thomas. Midfield was Kye, Kaden, Luke B and Charlie with Aaron up front; Billy was the lone sub. If we were to need a defensive change (another bracketed comment) for an injury then our flexibility would be truly tested.
The first half of the first half (echo! Echol!) was all midfield, with very few chances – Kye was the first Blues player to have a dig, a long distance effort that went over the bar, after Bilborough had had a one-on-one with Oscar; some excellent defensive work by the tireless James C cleared any danger. Our slick passing gameTM was beginning to pay off, two quick through balls played on the ground for Kye and Kaden to run onto; the Bilborough keeper had to be quick off her mark to come out and collect the ball. We were probing, and Sammy was the next to have a go, another shot from distance over a couple of players that the keeper caught.
The breakthrough happened after a free kick for offside at our end. A long ball over the top, not our usual way, with Kaden running onto it – he caught it sweetly as the ball rose and it sailed past the keeper for one-nil. It was Vardy-esque, but in a good way (not jumping into the full back and “winning” a penalty for “clever play”. I mean, really? Come on) with a direct run and cracking finish.
This prompted a period of Bilborough pressure, but our defence held strong. Half time.
When the second half kicked off, what seemed almost immediately, we looked a bit leggy and the first chance of the half wasn’t cleared and Bilborough equalised. We were still in this game, so were our opponents – there was very little between the two teams, both in terms of scoreline and in ability and approach.
Kye put one wide, Thomas showed some silky skills to bamboozle the Bilborough players and Kaden and Kye had further half-chances. More good work from Thomas, feeding Luke B culminated in a shot on target from Charlie. James C was bringing the ball out of defence time and again, combining well with Luke whose effort flashed across the face of the goal.
Bilborough’s last chance of the match came when we didn’t clear our lines quickly enough, but Thomas was on hand to close down the attacker, forcing him wide and nullify the danger. Overall, a great team performance against a worthy opponent – and the game was played in the right spirit; as Thomas and I walked back to the car after the game, two of the Bilborough lads said “Well played” to Thomas, which I thought was great.
Man Of The Match was awarded to Kaden for his fantastic goal and tireless running, his directness was a threat all afternoon. Special mention to James C as well though, as his defensive work in an unfamiliar position was outstanding. He was always looking to win the ball cleanly and take it out of defence and look for the forward pass. Kudos to Bilborough as well, they gave us a great game and the draw was a fair result.
This team is really beginning to click after a bit of a poor start, there’s some great passing and a good spirit about them.