Sunday 17th March saw the Hurricanes take on Haslemere
After a few games away the Hurricanes took on Haslemere at home on the Large Leas pitch. A beautiful but windy day for football. The visitors have been catching up on their league games and climbing the table on the back of strong wins against the top teams in the league. And with the second SPL silent weekend, it was up to the lads to talk and organise themselves for the game. Once most of the lads had arrived we spent a short time going through the tactics for the game before the warm up, which included the approach to long free kicks (specific roles for some players and a diagram for whipping the ball in from wide), corner set play reminder, getting wide with the ball to create space, movement off the ball and a few other key aspects we’ve been working on for the last few weeks.
Haslemere won the decision and chose to play with the wind in the first half. From the outset, Finch were pressing hard and putting Haslemere under pressure. Max was put through on goal after 2 minutes but last ditch defending blocked the shot. Finch were moving the ball around the pitch and getting numbers forwards quickly. Haslemere were quick on the break as well. Alfie chose to go direct with a long free kick and Max was there to head the ball over the approaching keeper for 1-0 lead. Haslemere responded very quickly from the kick off and created their own 1-on-1 to level the scores. Finch kept the pressure on forcing Haslemere to defend deep, limiting the openings. And Dan cleared the ball off the line after a Haslemere corner lead to a shot in the penalty box just before the half-time whistle. 1-1 half time.
Finch were quick out of the blocks as the second half kicked off, putting Haslemere on the back foot straight away. Another pin-point corner from Ben M was converted by Ollie to take the lead 2-1. But as the game restarted, Finch were a little slower to press and let Haslemere get back into the game. The game was end to end, both teams countering quickly and both teams defending well. Haslemere won a corner and dropped the ball into the Finch 6yd box, confusion on the call for the ball allowed Haslemere the chance to head home to level the scores again 2-2.
A key moment in the game came when Adam chased after a cleared ball down the right touchline and squared the ball first time to Max charging down the centre of the pitch for a 40yd dash pursued by defenders….their keeper spread himself wide and just got a foot to the shot to deny Max. Shortly after Adam hit the upright after a corner, Ollie’s shot-on-the-spin in a goal mouth scramble was just wide, Ollie’s free kick outside the penalty box was saved and Finch couldn’t get on the end of a number of crosses and corners. Haslemere kept up their pressure too and a deflected pass found their striker on the edge of the 6yd box to go 3-2 up. Finch were chasing the equaliser now, even Jake going up for a Finch corner. As the game drew to a close Haslemere won a free kick just outside the penalty box and were able to bundle the ball into the net at the back post 4-2.
From my perspective, our lads played very well today against a strong team. They were talking to each other more than normal (particularly Dan, Ben A, Ollie, Jack and Lewis who helped me out on the sidelines), pressing as a team, getting up the pitch in numbers, looking to create chances and a lot of quality in the deliveries into the box. They worked hard for each other and there were definitely enough chances to get something out of the game, just couldn’t convert them. Lots of positives to take away from the game and hopefully we can continue the improved communication skills.
In the league, Haslemere jump to 2nd just 1 point off the current leaders Badshot with 2 games in hand. Virginia Waters and Bourne drew 1-1. Burpham jump up to 4th after beating the Sharks 1-0. The Hurricanes sit in 6th place, 1 point off 5th (Virginia Waters) and 2 points off 4th (Burpham).