Today was always going to be a tough game; the opposition were unbeaten in this league, the pitch was soft and sticky and the pitch was at such an angle I nearly had to get my compasses out.
I wouldn’t say today’s referee was young, but when he put his hand in the air at one point today I wasn’t sure if he was asking a question or he needed a wee.
Enough of such japery.
It was a bright morning among the hills of Gedling, we lined up with Oscar in goal, a back three of Will Shore, Gregor and Luke D, midfield was Sammy in a more advanced role than we’ve seen him in recently with Kaden and Jameses P and C, and Luke B up front. Thomas and Aaron were our subs.
We took the initiative straight away, with Luke B putting Kaden through, despite the pitch not favouring our slick passing style the ball was being moved around nicely; mostly in a circular motion. Gedling showed intent when their dangerous number 10 broke through, meaning Gregor had to step in to clear the danger. Gedling were soaking up the pressure like a football sponge, then breaking quickly like a knock-off Scalextric.
Kaden and Luke B were combining well for us, with Luke slotting the ball through for Kaden to run onto. We were awarded an early free kick which was thrown into the mixer by James C but Gedling got the all clear by getting the ball clear. The home team were passing the ball around well, it was easy to see how they’d done so well; it was also easy to see because most of the play was right in front of me. Kaden was full of running, trying to spring the offside trap; Gedling were playing quite a high line, inviting that sort of pressure. James C and Luke B managed a couple of shots from distance, but the keeper wasn’t overly troubled. After a few instructions from the sidelines, Luke and Kaden swapped, with Luke playing Ozil to Kaden’s Vardy (I can’t use a full Arsenal comparison as we can’t hit a barn door with any musical instrument right now). This change immediately paid off, with Kaden pouncing on an Oscar clearance, the shot just going wide. Another alteration saw Thomas come on for James P. A break in play for an injury, Luke B’s mum instructed him to hit more long shots, more of which in 61 words.
James C put in a great cross from the right, but Kaden couldn’t get quite high enough, more of a sea bass than a salmon unfortunately. After a period of Gedling pressure where they had their first corner, we had a throw in, Kaden again running in on the keeper. From the clearance, with Lisa’s words ringing in his ears, Luke blatted the ball straight back at the keeper with a volley so sweet those around should check blood sugar levels. One nil to the Blues, and it goes to show you should listen to your mother.
Gedling took affront to this ad attacked with renewed vim, vigour and assorted other things that sound like cleaning products but there was no way through before half time. Half time. From what I was told to say, there was some “outstanding” assistant refereeing by Mark Dobney throughout the half.
The Blues kicked off the second half, Thomas put a lovely through ball between what seemed like eight players (biased? Nah.) to Luke B, leading to a bit of a goalmouth scramble. From the resulting throw in, a James C cross flashed across the face of the goal, BEGGING to be nudged into the net, a Sammy Hill left foot special….but no one could get on the end of it.
Gedling then broke at pace down our right hand side, we couldn’t get a tackle in but fortunately it ended with a weak shot, the wrong side of the post – for them, at least. A little bit of self destruction led to a free kick to Gedling on the edge of our penalty area, from which they hit the post, a bit of a scramble then out for a goal kick – another lucky escape! By this time my lucky rabbit’s foot almost had a hole in it, and you can’t imagine the trouble I have getting shoes.
The home team were in the ascendancy now, we were getting leggy not being used to running for so long on this kind of surface. A lovely through ball from Luke B after another good pass from Thomas was threaded through for Kaden – who had gone off! Again Gedling were threatening up our right hand side, and for all the good work the defence had done up to this point it was coming; a shot into the bottom right hand corner levelled the scores at one apiece. More Gedling pressure led to a corner, and the header was flashed wide.
We weren’t out of it by any stretch of the imagination, and my imagination is pretty fevered at the best of times. We were pressing them hard high up the pitch and won a corner – Gedling broke quickly, but Oscar was out Neuer-like again to clear.
They say football is a game of fine margins; they also say football’s a load of rubbish after you don’t beat Watford at home in the Cup. One thing we all agree on (apart from Wenger needing to sell Walcott) is that it can be a cruel game; after we didn’t manage to clear our lines, a great cross was put in and the defensive header looped up over Oscar and into the net. Such a shame, and I’m not naming names because we win as a team, we lose as a team. It is enough to say that although Gedling deserved a goal, it shouldn’t have been in that manner.
This led to a frantic last few minutes, Gedling still applying pressure but we were handling it well. In the end, they were just that little bit luckier than we were, but the game was played in the right spirit and the Gedling coach should be singled out for the praise and magnanimous way he took the victory. An arm round the shoulder here, a “Great goal, lad” there. Fair play.
Although I didn’t mention the defence a great deal here, Man Of The Match today was Luke Dobney – for all the right reasons, he hardly put a foot wrong and is definitely one of our top performers this season.
Overall, a close defeat, something we’re not used to any more, but against a very good team who have been tonking teams left, right and centre this season. They knew they’d been in a game today.