Mortimer Schools Quacky Races
Now that's how you play when you're about to go into lockdown!
Sunday 1st of November, The mighty Hurricanes took on Haslemere....
The Hurricanes were up against last years run-away league winners and this years Premier Elite table topper Haslemere. The last time we played them was back in the U16s in the final game of the season when Haslemere had already won the Premier before our game and we drew 1-1.
We were without Luke (injured), Nathan (Covid self isolating) and Joe (away). Dan was originally going to miss this game due to last weeks ankle injury, but he wanted to be involved in case this was our final game for a while. Harrington took on the captain role. In the briefing before the game, my final message was to go out and enjoy the football and leave it all on the pitch!!
Finch were straight at the visitors from the start, pressing high and quickly. But a lapse in concentration allowed Haslemere’s striker the time and space to get a shot away, catching Jake off his line. But our lads got straight back at it, working really hard. And this earned them some chances to level things up. Lewis C corner picking unmarked Marcus out in the crowded box, his header going wide. Cam pulled his left footed trigger, his shot just over the target. Jacob's wide cross found Lewis C but couldn’t get his shot on target.
Both teams were playing 4-3-3 and it was all about which wing backs could pile on the pressure more. Haslemere started off on the offensive, but gradually Finch worked it out and soon were matching Haslemere across the park and especially in midfield with Matt, Cam and Marcus. Ben, Alfie and Dan were getting high up the pitch. Finch’s 1-touch quick football was causing Haslemere lots of trouble. Lewis B played Matt through into space and his drilled ground shot from range beat the keeper at full stretch to level the scoreline. Haslemere were making mistakes under the home team’s pressing.
Haslemere stepped up their pressure and Jake had to pull out a couple of big saves. A point blank header was pawed away and cleared by Aaron. And a long range shot parried wide on the dive. Haslemere corners were another challenge, but the organisation and commitment was there to deal with all of them.
1-1 half time. The jelly babies were out in force at half time, the lads were knackered with only 45 minutes played. But they listened and recognised the effort they needed to put in.
Haslemere came out all guns blazing in the second half and the Hurricanes found themselves defending in numbers. The wind was playing to their pace. But as Haslemere dropped off a little, Finch were able to get back on the offensive themselves. Cam burst through in to their penalty box but was brought down from behind for the penalty….which he calmly drilled down the middle past the diving keeper. And Jack was working his socks off chasing down the through balls, just couldn’t quite get clear of the last defender each time.
Haslemere stepped it up another notch as they found themselves in an unfamiliar situation of being behind in a game with the clock running down. Again Finch soaked up the pressure and some desperate defending from Harrington, Aaron, Alfie, Dan and Ben kept Haslemere at bay. Jake beat away another long range shot and was sweeping up behind the back line. But the continued attacks finally worked for Haslemere with a left sided cross just out of Jake’s diving reach was volleyed….for a moment I thought it had bounced out of the goal from under the cross bar, but it just span back in. 2-2
The game was end to end now, both teams chasing the winner but both teams tired. The frustration got the better of one of the Haslemere players, sent off for dissent with 8 minutes left. Finch now piled on more attacking pressure, keeping the ball alive around the box but not able to find a way through Haslemere’s packed out defence. All Haslemere could do was clear long and wait for the next attack!!
2-2 the final score. I asked them to leave it all on the pitch and they did just that for each other. Couldn’t ask any more of them today. All of the lads played their roles really well today. To come away from today a split second/millimetres from winning against the team thats beaten everyone else in the league is quite something!! We should all be very proud of this great bunch of lads for how they go about their football as a team.
Finch Hurricanes step it up against Yateley Dragons
Sunday 25th October, Finch Hurricanes step it up against Yateley Dragons
Finch have a bit of history against Yateley in last years SPL cup (losing 3-0) and the friendly (losing 3-1). Yateley finished 4th in the Premier Elite last season. And we were missing Cam and Matt for todays tough fixture. And of course we managed to get completely soaked in the warm up!!
Finch were into top gear from the kick off putting elements of training and the warm up straight into action from the edge of our penalty box….Dan picking up Luke with a line pass, who played Jacob through the backline for the cross/lob shot (not sure which) and I couldn’t tell if Lewis got the final touch bundling it into the net. 1-0 in the first minute!!
Yateley were chasing hard straight after this. Finch were defending in numbers, pressing quickly and forcing Yateley into long shots only. The Hurricanes kept breaking up the play and were making good decisions about playing the ball long, but weren’t anticipating the runs enough. Jack followed up to challenge the keeper, who spilled the ball but it bounced off Jack’s heels for the goal kick.
Yateley got the equaliser with a left sided cross into their striker for the volley. Jake pulled out a couple of brilliant saves including a free kick dropping under the crossbar. And Jake continued his sweeper role from last week, dealing with Yateley’s primary long ball weapon every time. 1-1 half time
Finch were fired up and came out all guns blazing at the start of the 2nd half. The anticipating runs were much more effective. Early chases went to Finch…Lewis C zipped the ball across the goal for Lewis B sliding in on the back post, millimetres from the tap in. Jack couldn’t quite direct his snap shot on target. Jacob picked out Lewis C on the run for the bullet header at the keeper. Jacob burst through 1-on-1 with the keeper but couldn’t slide it past him.
Both teams were tiring and the game stretched out and was end to end with both pushing for the winning goal. Yateley came close with the ball deflected across the face of Jake’s goal line. Dan rolled his ankle in a challenge with 10 minutes left. 1-1 final score and both teams could have won it with the chances they created at either end.
The lads definitely stepped up their football today on a heavy pitch. The work rate across the team was excellent with everything being left on the pitch. Pressing and team work remained high. Quicker releasing of the football was extremely effective and they were mixing up their play with some long balls too (which got better as the game went on). The work we have done in training over the last couple of weeks on the final third and the warm up was being used in the game…well done lads!!
Finch take on top of the league Esher
Sunday 11th October Finch take on top of the league Esher
Another road trip today to Esher near Hampton Court. Esher sit at the top of the table with some big wins against the stronger teams in the division. We had 15 players, Luke couldn’t make it due to work commitments because of the later kick off. Matthew joining the team for his debut in a Finch shirt. Alfie almost pain free from his knee injury from the Thursday night game in the rain.
Although the pitch wasn’t the greatest, our work over the last few weeks on keeping possession was showing. And early on Ben’s cross to Jack setup Lewis C for the shot, saved by the keeper. Lewis C picked out Ben on the back post but couldn’t direct the ball on target.
Esher were quick on the break and got the first goal from a shot from range which bounced up in front of Jake on the dive. Esher struck again when the Hurricanes cleared a corner but couldn’t shut down the shooter quick enough, a rocket shot in off the cross bar at the back post.
Finch weren’t beaten and came back at Esher. Lewis C picking out Jack in the penalty box, his header going high. Quick passing from Joe and Lewis B put Cam through on goal but his left footed shot was just wide. At the other end, Jake made a top save at full stretch to parry the ball away.
The lads kept the pressure up in the second half, pressing hard and keeping the ball well. They were competing for everything and looked to be winning more than Esher. Ben floated a free kick in, Dan coming close with another header. A hard Esher shot initially saved by Jake but Esher were able to pounce on the deflected ball for the tap in. Esher capitalised when Jake came to clear a long ball on his left.
Alfie tried to clear the ball but brought down Esher’s striker for a penalty. To their credit Finch kept playing and working for each other. Lewis C picked out Ben at the back post, shot going wide. Alfie won the ball just outside the penalty box, Harrington went on the run and picked out Cam for the volley goal. Although 5-1 down, this goal was electric for the Hurricanes and they pushed for another. A possible goal from Ben’s corner was disallowed as not having crossed the line, couldn’t tell from my angle. And the final kick of the game went to a Finch corner with the entire team attacking in the penalty box (why not!!). Well done to Matthew for a great debut for the Hurricanes. And thank you to Nick for running the line.
The score line today wasn’t a reflection on the game, the amount of possession and the number of chances Finch created against the top team. Our lads are already improving their organisation, awareness, pressing, work rate and possession football across the team. Looks like we need to do more work on the final third and finishing now!!
Their win today extends Esher’s lead with their unbeaten 5 game run. Elstead jumped above Finch into 5th place with a 2-0 win over Staines. Walton beat Yateley 8-3 on their astro and Haslemere took second place with a 6-1 win over Rushmoor.
Tough in the top tier of SPL
Walton’s stadium 4G pitch looked the part with the spectator stand and dug-outs. Great surface for playing football on, but a little unforgiving on the knees as it turned out. With Nathan, Aaron and Dan out we were down to just 12 for the game on a big pitch (missing 3 of our defensive players). Walton were in the Premier Elite last season and in the mix with the top teams.
The priority in the briefing was to keep the ball, to avoid chasing the game on the big astro pitch. Finch started well, with the first chance of the game going to Marcus’ left footed shot off the post. And Walton were on the back foot as Finch pressed hard up the pitch. Jack burst through with the ball and pulled it back for Cam to play Lewis C in, but the final shot was wide.
Walton won a free kick in a wide position, the ball floated in and bounced through the crowded box just inside the post. But Finch responded immediately with a crisp passing sequence from Ben through midfield, Jack picking out Cam for the equaliser. 1-1
Walton got a series of corners, and Finch couldn’t properly clear the ball, the home team pouncing on the chance to go 2-1 up. At the other end Luke worked hard to beat his man and cross the ball into Lewis C who couldn’t quite bundle the ball into the net. Jake was called into action at full stretch to parry away a shot across the goal and then another shot at the near post. Half time
The Hurricanes came out fired up after the half time talk, keeping the ball and moving it around more quickly. And their pressing was rewarded with Jacob setting up the shot for Cam to slam it home, levelling up the scores. 2-2
Finch were starting to tire and the passing quality wasn’t as sharp as it had been. Walton’s fresher legs was making the difference. Jake came for a high ball but couldn’t get the punch in ahead of the strikers header. 3-2 to Walton
But our lads weren’t beaten and kept working for the next goal. Walton went down to 10 men when the Sin Bin was deployed for dissent….Finch were pressing harder for the equaliser. A free kick from a push set Ben up to whip in a ball, Alfie’s header just wide of the target. Jacob worked his way through on goal to get a shot away, Walton’s keeper making the save. Jake was bundled into his own net by the striker as he jumped for a high ball, it wasn’t given as a foul. 4-2
As the clock ran down, the game was getting more scrappy with Walton fouling to disrupt Finch’s flow. Finch struggled to maintain possession with tired legs and from the pressure as they got more stretched across the pitch, but they kept chasing the 3rd goal. Jake was in action again, spreading himself wide to block a point blank shot. Walton got the final goal of the game, sliding it across the goal for the back post tap in. 5-2 final score
Hurricanes came back from 1-0 down
Sunday 20th September, A beautiful day (may be a little hot) with a perfect pitch (possibly a bit dry) and most of the lads (so no team photo). Unfortunately Harrington is still recovering from Tonsilitis so had to drop out this morning.
Lots of focus and engagement from the lads in the warm up and team talk. The lads know the formation and we have been working on pressing and releasing the ball under pressure. And welcome to Joe and Luke who had never been to FInch’s fantastic pitches before.
Rushmoor were clearly out for revenge after the 2-0 loss last week in the pre-season friendly. And it showed as Rushmoor were pressing harder and looked a serious threat. They were awarded a series of corners which kept our lads on their toes. But the Hurricanes started to settle into the game they were able to apply their own pressure, Ben hitting the net but was just off side when Cam played him through into the penalty box.
Rushmoor kept going and Jake was at full stretch to parry away a long range shot which wasn’t closed down quick enough. Finch forward pressing from Ben got the steal from a goal kick but could only get a corner from the opportunity. Lewis C came together with a Rushmoor player, who unfortunately had to come off the pitch with a wrist injury (Frimley A&E have confirmed its broken).
It was a hot day and tempers were bubbling, a Rushmoor player got sin-binned for 10 minutes. With a man down, Finch were on the attack. Cam shot going wide, perfect crosses from Dan and Jacob into the danger zone but couldn’t be finished, Lewis B long range shot our the cross bar and Joe’s flick off a Lewis corner just missing the top corner. Some careless passing from Finch was making it hard to capitalise on the man advantage.
But Rushmoor were still dangerous on the break and a hospital pass from Finch just outside Rushmoor’s penalty box setup a fast paced chase towards Finch’s goal, the striker squeezing the ball under Aaron’s sliding lunge and Jake’s outstretched leg. 1-0 to Rushmoor just on the half time whistle and Aaron picked up a twisted ankle in the process which took him out of the game.
Half time brief was basically “can’t fault work rate but got to be more smart with the ball”. Plus a few jelly babies to top up the sugar levels!!
And then Hurricanes stepped it up a level….they shortened their passing game and started to move the ball across the park quickly around Rushmoor. Jack burst through chasing a Lewis B through-ball, but couldn’t quite beat their keeper to the ball. A foul on Cam in a wide left position gave Ben the right angle to pick out Luke on the back post, first attempt off the post but some quick footwork from Luke scrambled in the equaliser. Luke was skilling their left back and pinging in the ball into the box multiple times....Jack headed one of them which beat the keeper but hit the upright.
As both teams tired in the heat there were more chances for both teams. Rushmoor came close with some long ranged shots, but couldn’t hit the target. Ben’s long range shot was initially blocked and the ball was stabbed away before his followup shot could be taken. Jake smothered a point blank shot when a missed clearance landed at Rushmoor’s striker’s feet in front of Jake. A bit like last week’s penalty save, this was a key moment in the game.
Finch were on top of the game now, winning it back quickly by overloading Rushmoor across the pitch. Lewis C and Alfie couldn’t quite get over the top of the corners to bag the winner. It was Joe’s lifted delivery to Cam at the back post to chest the ball home which got the winner. 2-1 final score!!
Hurricanes Friendly At Rushmoor for 2-0 win
Sadly the Finch Hurricanes couldn’t get started with the league today due to both Elstead and themselves not having a home pitch. But as it happens Rushmoor (also Premier Elite) didn’t have a game either, so they got a friendly going. Burpham have folded already due to lack of players. Rushmoor were in the Premier Elite division last season, finishing in the bottom half when the league shutdown for Covid.
On the back of last weeks friendly we have worked hard at training on scanning, pressing and composure on the ball. And we carried that into the briefing today. No Cam (away), no Jacob (toe issues), no Adam (knee injury) giving us 13 players. It was great to see Adam at the pitch today and fingers crossed for his MRI scan tomorrow!!
Both teams went for it in the opening exchanges as the game got underway. Finch were quick to create the first opportunity from Harrington’s long ball through to Luke, but he got underneath his left footed shot. And Lewis B was setup for a long range shot when the ball was part cleared from a Finch corner.
But Rushmoor started to get control of the game with more composed possession than the Hurricanes. Alfie was dishing out some no non-sense defending. The home team first shot was only just over the bar and Jake was scrambling after a lofted cross to the back post. Jake was in action shortly after with a strong right hand at full stretch to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Although Rushmoor were putting the pressure on, Finch held a solid defensive shape with Harrington, Aaron, Dan and Nathan working hard as a unit. But we were still struggling to keep the ball. It was Alfie with a trade mark volley from Ben’s pin point corner which broke the deadlock in the last minute of the first half.
Rushmoor were quick to get going in the second half and quickly tested Jake with a snap shot which Jake parried away at full stretch. Rushmoor were award a penalty for handball (looked like it from my angle). Jake was up to the challenge again with a full stretch block and then was quick to smother the followup shot.
Whether it was this near miss penalty or Rushmoor starting to tire or the lads settling on the ball more (or all of the above), the Hurricanes started to get control of the game. Defending in numbers and dominating the midfield. Joe, Lewis B, Alfie and Marcus were breaking up the play and getting on the attach. Composure improved significantly and Finch started to fire on all cylinders.
Finch got the 2nd goal with a long range ball from Joe near the half way line which bounced over their keeper. Alfie couldn’t pull the trigger quick enough when Luke zipped in the ball from wide. Lewis C, Jack, Luke and Ben combined well to pressure the Rushmoor defence, but couldn’t quite break down Rushmoor’s strong defence.
As the game ran down, Marcus injured his foot (thanks Jo for looking after him) and Lewis B got dumped on his back (leaving me to run the line). Like last week, there were opportunities and good spells of play. We still need to continue work on our possession play under pressure and first touch control. But all of the lads had some excellent spells in the game….well done lads.
Thanks to Andy for refereeing again. And for the lads (Harrington, Dan, Marcus and Nathan) for running the line today. And it was great to meet Luke’s mum (Henrietta) to welcome her into our team.
Next week they kick off the season against Rushmoor but at Finch on the Large Leas.
Hurricanes kick start pre-season with a 3-1 win!
Finch U18 Hurricanes kick start pre-season with a 3-1 win at Abbey
Its official….pre-season is underway!! And what better way to start than a friendly with old rivals down at Abbey Rangers. Covid cut last season short so the Hurricanes never got a chance to play the Diamonds in the league.
The lads have grown up so much over the summer in their maturity, they were very focused in the warm up and briefing. They refreshed on the formation and some of the tactics, with the particular emphasis on pressing quickly and getting forward in numbers on the attack. Above all it was a training game at the start of pre-season so it was ok to make mistakes and to try things out.
Abbey were straight on the attack from the kick off and were pressing hard. They forced mistakes but FInch did well to recover from these.
The Hurricanes hit back and applied their own pressure to good effect. And the scoring opportunities were there but they couldn’t convert them. Jack burst down the right side of the box and cut the ball back to Jacob and Cam waiting for the final shot. Harrington's quick free kick picked out Jacob for a flick-on but was just over the cross bar. Joe couldn’t keep an in-range free kick down. Lewis C's corner found Alfie’s head but he couldn’t direct it below the cross bar. Luke turn-shoot and Jacob’s long range shot were both saved by their keeper.
At the other end, Aaron, Dan, Nathan, Harrington and Alfie were soaking up the Abbey attacks and defending with confidence, including a very well handled passing sequence out from the back through to Abbey’s penalty box. Abbey’s tall striker did manage to get a couple of shots off but couldn’t hit the target and diving Jake had the angles covered anyway. Our wingbacks in Aaron, Dan and Nathan were also starting to make the overlapping runs to provide width to our play. This will improve with practice.
Finch scored first when Luke’s left sided shot was parried across the goal into Lewis C’s path for the clinical finish. Lewis C was on target again to capitalise on a defensive mistake with a left footed shot passed the keeper.
In the second half, Abbey were back on the pressing but couldn’t make much progress against the lads. The Hurricanes continued to create scoring chances, but couldn’t find the target. Another Alfie header from a corner, Jacob hit the side netting and Luke was just over the cross bar with their shots. And there were a number of good attacking runs beating the offside trap but the final passes didn’t pick out the runner. Cam worked his magic surrounded by Abbey defenders on the edge of the box, picking out the top corner of the goal to go 3-0 up.
Although the game was getting a bit more heated between the teams as tiredness kicked in and the clock ran down, Abbey kept pushing and managed to nick a goal back from a well struck short. We picked up a couple of minor tweaks and some cramp, nothing serious. 3-1 final score.
Overall really encouraging start and great to see the lads back in action. The lads put the tactics into action with proactive attacking work, sold centre mid control and confident defending. Lots of creative thinking, team work and skills on the ball. And loads of hard work getting up and down the pitch. Well done to all.
Thank you to Nick for running the line and for all the support on the sidelines today. Also pleased to say that Luke has agreed to sign for the Hurricanes, taking them back up to 16 players in the team. Please join me in welcoming Luke and his family into the team.
The league is planned to start on Sunday 13th September.