MPL – Easter weekend report
*Photo courtesy of mainland football
Friday v University
On Easter Friday we went out to English Park to play a very organised and defensive University side. It was important for us to target 6 points over the two easter games to be at the top of the table. Because of this we went into the Uni game very attacking minded and started with our 4-3-3 formation.
I felt we started the game well with good urgency and purpose. It wasnt until the 25th minute that we broke the deadlock though. Some brilliant combination play resulted in a switch to our right fullback Connor, who floated a ball far post for our left fullback Louie to nod it in. Awesome to see a goal from one fullback to the other and hopefully we will see more of that with the attacking license of our fullbacks. The second goal came from some good play down our left this time and the low cross was met by Haris, for a tap in, who had been playing brilliant.
Going into halftime at 2-0 the message was that the game was far from won. We all agreed we had to go out in search of the third goal. Although I felt we came out playing well the third goal didnt come until the 70th minute, when Rhys was bought down in the box for a penalty. The spot kick was well taken by Macca which takes his tally to 4 from 4 games for the season.
There were a handful of good performances in the game. Dom continued to be rock solid. Liam showed hes adept at playing CB and CM. Matt Thomas came on and showed off his brilliant crossing ability and it was another gutsy performance from Avery, but the man of the moment was certainly young Haris Zeb. His first start to the season saw him score 2 goals and he was the man that beat two players to smash the fourth goal home.
Once at 4-0 we really wanted to ensure we took the clean sheet home and although we sent a message out to be compact and defend with numbers, debutant Joe Davies got on the pitch and continued to threat the Uni goal. In the last ten minutes we had three shots cleared off the line which was also great to see.
A 4-0 win was just what we needed to boost our confidence going into one of the big games of our season, playing champion team Bays on the Monday. We now know we can score lots of goals scoring ten from three games and can also keep clean sheets. having two in a row now.
Monday v Ferrymead Bays
On Easter Monday we played Ferrymead Bays again at English Park, this time it was a home game so our shield was up for grabs.
We knew this was going to be a very physical game and the ariel success we had in our past games won’t come near as easily.
We opted for a very experienced squad including players like Matt Thomas, Tristan Nicol and Zac Gordon which meant some of our youth players Sam Richard, Treye and Haris Zeb had to make way.
I think we showed we are already on par with the best in that 45 minutes. We matched Bays physicality, we absorbed everything they threw at us- which wasn’t much, and we started to create opportunities. Having looked at the disallowed goal for offside, it’s clear that call could have gone either way as there was nothing in it. For this reason although they had 45% I still think we had the better of that half very slightly. Our new GK James made four superb punches which kept us out of trouble. Since they didn’t create much over the first 45, with the score still 0-0, we stuck with our 4-3-3 and even went a little more attacking. In the second half we certainly had a good glow about us. We had four corners and a one on one chance within the space of the first 15 minutes.
The subs came and although I think Haris was a good injection, I feel we lost some stability when we changed our backline. Having to take Zac off on a limp and a yellow took some getting used to but we soon got back to our rhythm. It was against the run of play when they got awarded a free kick in the 70th minute. That very free kick was the one that ended up bouncing around in the box for a scrappy Chris Anderson tap in that we have all seen all too often over the years. Even after we conceded we still kept threatening. Although we dominated possession of that second half (58%), I think our issue was that we didn’t create enough opportunities. The game ended a 1-0 loss for us and I won’t comment on the red card that we received on the 88th minute.
Nobody really stood out for us that game unfortunately, but due to our keeper James doing very little wrong I awarded him the man of the match. After now playing both Tech and Bays and limiting both teams to just a few chances, it’s nice to see we are hard to score against. Now we need to start working on creating more opportunities against teams with strong physical attributes. Hopefully, over the next week we can show some serious signs of improvement in that area to ensure the goals keep on flowing.
Thank you to all the supporters over the long weekend, it was seriously brilliant. The boys are gutted to have lost the shield but our heads are held high, we didn’t get outplayed and we can still achieve all our team goals.
See you soon