MPL – All on the line vs Tech at Cuthberts
After beating Selwyn on Anzac Wednesday we knew a win against Tech at home today would put us back as title challenges and put us just 1 point behind them.
This game was also a special day for Connor Lidstone who joins our hall of fame in reaching his 100th game for Coastal Spirit. Having captained Halswell for two seasons it was obvious how big Connors influence was at that club and I wasn’t surprised Halswell got relegated after he left them to come to us. Connor is a youth product of Coastal Spirit having gone through our pathway, a kanga cup winner and a Canterbury Youth player. For Connor to leave an established club he was captain of to join us in a very competitive squad where starting games is far from guaranteed meant a lot to me. Being able to play anywhere in the backline, never injured, always at training and performs consistently, Connor is clearly an important member in the group. I remember the year Connor broke into the Coastal first team at 17 when I was Korosh Monsefs Assistant. It was a year Connor played CB with current manager Paul Hughes. Connor got player of the year that year and I’m sure playing with Paul helped turn him into the player he is. Well done Connor.
Due to the rain and pitch conditions, we didn’t go into this game looking to play pretty football and a very physical team was selected to compliment this. Having watched Coastal play against Tech for the last 7 years I can honestly say that the first half performance was the best we have ever played against them. Its things like that that reassures me we are still improving and I’m still the right man for the job.
Going 1 nil up from a training ground set-piece was pleasing and it was a fan favourite DOMinator that got on the end of yet another Claudio assist. I’ve not seen Tech so rattled but unfortunately for us we didn’t score from our next 6 good opportunities in that half. Tech equalized just before half time when they took a quick free kick which resulted in Lyle shooting low and somehow squeezing a ball through two players legs and under another player. That’s football and after the game the referee apologised for giving that foul on Smiley that wasn’t.
At halftime is where we got it wrong. Too many times against Tech we start well then their senior players start to work out what we are doing and get on top of us. I should have changed it up but it was just so hard to change what WAS working superbly.
I won’t go into the details but Tech come out and hammered us in the 2nd half. Subbing on Canterbury Dragons captain Gary was clearly instrumental for them as they started to dominate the midfield and get Lyle into the game. In the space of 20 minutes we lost 70% of our challenges!! Things we asked of started to go out the window which was disappointing.
We tried to change it up to get control again and I was astonished how bad our changes worked out. Although getting dominated we still created the odd chance even after going 2-1 down to a Lyle individual goal.
In the end it wasn’t to be and Tech were deserved winners in the end. For me it was Techs experienced players and Lyle playing so well that was the difference.
I thought the only good performers over the 90 minutes were Zac Gordon and Dom. There was concern and debate they couldnt play together in a high defensive line but they proved they could. Poor Andy Tuckey had lots to deal with.
Man of the match was Zac Gordon and it’s great to see his body holding up and injury free.
The loss hurt. Still some great learning we can take from it though going into the south island league. Being 7 points adrift I think we can kiss winning the MPL good bye. But now we can use this time to reflect, prepare and develop to make sure we finish the season with lots to show for. We are boosted by Treye returning from New Zealand secondary schools and also Ash who has arrived from the UK.
Before the game the last thing I said to the lads was to give a good performance for the fans that turned up in the pouring rain. Looking back I should have saved that line for halftime but it was amazing to see the support we had in weather like that. Lads loved it.
Now we set our sights on Uni at Ilam park. A game we drew last year. It’s so important to me that we finish higher then last year and a 2nd alot finish is our new goal in the MPL. See you at Ilam Park.