MPL – Bays in an important shield match
On May 19 we travelled out to Ferrymead Park to play against Bays. A win would see us obtain the Hurley Shield back from them and put us in second place, a goal for the MPL season. As we haven’t beaten Bays the last 5 games we have played them, we knew it would be a tough game.
A long time between wins against Bays
Although we beat Ferrymead Bays three times in my first year as Coastal Head Coach three years ago, a Coastal team is yet to win a game at Ferrymead Park. Over the last year or so they have become somewhat of a bogey team for us. I think this added to our motivation along with a whole range of things. Ash Wellbourn’s return, the shield, second spot and of course beating a team that we have always struggled to beat.
The first five minutes we were lucky not to concede a goal through our own errors when trying to play out from the back. After that though our nerves settled and we got into the swing of things. I think we once again defended brilliantly. GK James had nothing to do and we started to get on top of them. Our best chances came from set plays where Dom or Zac could have got themselves on the score sheet on a few occasions.
At halftime, I asked the boys if Bays looked like scoring and we all agreed they didn’t. We then focussed on how we would score. In the second half, Bays started to get on top of us and there was a period where in the space of fifteen minutes we defended four corners and around ten crosses. On paper, it’s clear we have the best defensive record. The way we defend tactically combined with the strong defensive players we have, make it very difficult for teams to score against us. The way we absorbed that pressure and the maturity we showed is our foundation this season. I think as long as we can score goals, realistically we can beat anyone in the country.
It wasn’t until the 87th minute when the magic happened. Claudio had been subbed on for our captain Macca. It was his free kick that he hit perfectly into the top left corner. An amazing feeling with the whole team celebrating together on the subs bench. I’m not sure what was better, the free kick or me turning to the Bays bench telling them it’s going top left before the free kick was struck. Claudio hits these often in training and finally, we see it on a Saturday. His first goal for the club. Well done Claudio and thank you for the special memory
The game looked as though it was destined to be a 0-0 draw and that’s not quite good enough. Although our GK was literally untested the whole game you know on their day they are capable of a jammy Chris Anderson tap in. We defended well but didn’t create enough chances. I think Ash’s performance was outstanding but it’s a shame we couldn’t even get him a half-chance over the course of 90 minutes. So again, scoring is our issue.
Player of the day…
Defensively, there were a host of good performances. But in possession not so much. Our midfield struggled to control the game and get our wingbacks in good crossing positions. I think Haris played very well and made a Dragon’s fullback look clumsy and I think Liam Hare’s energy when he came on made a difference. But the player of the day went to a player that defended superbly and was threatening going forward and that’s Sean Liddicoat. What a freak of a player he is and an even better person.
There is nothing better than sharing these awesome moments with our supporters after the game and catching the moment with a photo of players and fans with the shield. Moments like that is exactly why I coach. So a big win for us 1-0, which puts us second on the table with three tough games left to play. FC, Nelson then Nomads. Our first defense of the shield starts next week against FC, then we defend it again against Nomads.