They were still struggling with a few injuries taking Nathan, James, Ben A and Alfie out of action for this week, but this still left us with 13 players. However this did include Aaron with a groin strain, Harrington returning after his back injury and Adam with a dead leg.
Staines pitch was wide and in good condition, which played to our strengths. And the work we have been doing over the past few weeks on possession play and passing/movement showed from the kick off. We picked 4-3-3 with the intention of playing with more aggressive attacking up front, a compact 3 man centre midfield and full backs making the wide runs.
The Hurricanes looked comfortable in possession and were working the ball up the pitch, exploiting the space well. Only thing missing to start with was shooting. As the game settled down, the lads kept up the pressure and started to create the half-chances, getting shots on target but nothing their keeper couldn’t deal with. Staines were quick up the pitch looking to hit their fast number 10, but couldn’t get past our defence or Jake.
The opening goal game from deep in Finch’s half, Aaron winning possession and a quick passing move from Aaron -> Jake -> Harrington -> Jack...who beat the defender with pace and rifled the shot into the bottom left corner past the keeper.
Finch’s confidence was growing and they started to pull the trigger more and test the keeper. The attacking pressure was forcing Staines deep into their own half. Jack was in the action again with a cut-back pass in the box for Ben M to tap in at the back post. Staines managed to sneak a goal before half time where their number 10 was given too much space in our penalty box. 2-1 at the break.
As they got going in the second half, I wanted to switch to 4-4-2 to put 4 in midfield instead of 3 and make more use of the width. And Staines stepped up their game too, putting our 2 centre mids under pressure. So the lads started to self organise and we gradually reverted back to 4-3-3.
Finch created more chances in the 2nd half, Jack couldn’t keep his shot down from edge of the 6 yd box, Adam sent the keeper scrambling with a shot from outside the box and a couple of goal mouth scrambles too. But the tiring Finch legs and/or the heat was letting Staines back into the game more. Finch continued to defend robustly in numbers making it hard for Staines to create any real chances of their own. Staines did hit the top of the cross bar with one shot from a narrow angle and were shooting from long range, but not beating Jake.
Both teams were giving away free kicks for challenges and pulling, a late kick to Jack earned the Staines defender a yellow car. In the dying minutes of the game a Staines free kick on the edge of the area led to a Staines penalty as one of their players went over in the box. Lots of Finch lads protested but the referees decision is final. Staines converted the penalty to even the score at 2-2. Neither team could break down the other as the game drew to a close.
The lads certainly did enough to win the game with the additional chances they created. Well done to all the lads for working hard and playing as a team. And good to see them putting our training into practice.
In the league at the time of writing, Abbey Rangers beat Teddington 3-1 and Claygate take top spot with a 3-0 win over Woking. Next week we are at home against Teddington.
Fuller league fixture list is currently looking like (doesn’t include County Cup or SPL cup yet):