Finch Rovers vs Twickenham Tigers 15th December
Winter had finally set in with temperatures barely over freezing for the Rovers final pre-Christmas league match.
The reverse fixture against the TIgers on the opening weekend of the season saw a gallant Rovers beaten 3-1. Could their improved showing in recent weeks transfer itself to a 4th successive league victory?
The supporters were certainly in joyful spirits despite the icy blast of storm Deirdre and were once again treated to the delights of Gemma's now legendary hot sausage rolls.
Both teams started well with end to end opportunities before the Tigers had the ball in the back of the net. Flag up though much to the relief of the watching Finch fans!
After a mere 10 mins Rovers were awarded a penalty for a slightly unfortunate handball. Who was to take it? Coaches orders meant Harrison B stepped up. Nervous faces soon turned to smiles as he smashed the ball to the keepers right. 1-0 Rovers!
Finch were then able to exact some measure of control with some good passing and movement down the right from James and Kam matched with some determined midfield play. Lucas C took several touches to manoeuvre himself into a great position to strike but unfortunately could only find the keeper. Some typically strong play from Ajay then created an opportunity for himself but the Tigers defence closed him down just at the crucial moment.
Tigers themselves then came back into the game, causing real problems with pace and power which Rovers were just about able to contain. Lucas C arguably providing the moment of the game when a shout of ' can I get some help here I'm being marked by two giants' in front of the Rovers supporters raised smiles and some giggles from all who heard, including his two 6ft oppressors!
Sadly the pacy play of Tigers eventually saw them score from a diagonal ball over centre and left back. A well timed run from the Tigers forward saw him smash past Luke C in goal. Luke C then had an inspired 5 minutes saving several strong shots on goal which were well cleared by the Rovers defence.
Rovers then pressed forwards with Sam F just missing with a good strike to the left of Tigers goal.
On the stroke of half time though the Rovers found the four pass quick move that the coaches and parents know they are capable of, resulting in a through ball for Harrison B to run onto. Superb composure allowed him to get a smart shot off that the keeper could only parry away to the grateful Nathaniel who applied the finishing touch having kept up well with play. 2-1 Finch at half-time.
The second half began with an outstanding 2nd burst from the Tigers who scored an exceptional goal with quick passing and a wickedly bending shot from distance which left Luke C with no chance. 2-2.
However Finch would not lie down with some typically strong play from Sam F matched by some marauding play from Jake M, taking the ball out from defence and beating 4 Tigers players before just smashing a shot over the ball from outside the area. 2 minutes later the impressive Lucas S also drove forward and a looping shot from over 25 yards had the Tigers keeper worried but sadly just over!
Tigers then started to get a real hold through midfield to match the willingness of their 4 quick forwards and Finch began to tire. This was without a doubt the quickest set of forwards that Rovers had played all season and their desire and attitude matched with their quality was a credit to them. Despite further outstanding work from the Rovers defence the Tigers speed created further opportunities and Finch found themselves 3-2 down with 20 minutes to play.
Rovers would not throw the towel in though and the game was set for a grandstand finish! Rovers back line pushed right up as they had to gamble with the chief concern being the 'ball over the top'.
With 5 mins to go Leo was played though but was again closed by some fantastic Tigers defending and his shot narrowly missed the near post. Oliver in particular showed fantastic reading of the game in defence and on several occasions cut a ball out that would have lead to an inevitable Tigers goal.
Time was nearly up when Rovers registered several corners but every time a Rovers player had an opportunity he was quickly closed down and the big chance they had sought in truth never quite materialised.
The final whistle saw some disappointment from the Rovers players but as the coaches explained after the match the effort was excellent and once again the team were only defeated by a very narrow margin. In this writers opinion the Tigers had the quickest set of players we had faced this season and to once again be in the game all the way to the final whistle is a credit to the boys and their coaches. Merry Christmas and we look forward to the 2nd half of the season!