It was great to start the new year at Finch, Large Leas pitch holding up really well and continuing to be one of the best pitches in the league. The Hurricane's last league game was on the 9th December and with limited numbers at training on Thursday, there were some rusty players with stiff legs out there. The quality started to increase in the warm up as they got their touch back.
Abbey started the new year in 8th place but have only played 5 games. Their convincing wins over Virginia Waters and Finch Sharks, plus very tight games with Badshot and Haslemere indicated they were a strong side lacking in played games, so not to be taken lightly.
A slower start for the Hurricanes as the game kicked off, Abbey Diamonds pressing hard and showing more desire in the early exchanges. The pressure showed and Finch were hanging on at times. But as the game started to settle down, the Finch quality and work rate improved swinging the balance in the home team’s favour.
Abbey were playing a more defensive 4-5-1 but were quick to burst forwards. Finch were setup with 3-1-4-2 introduced back in November to provide more midfield support. Max broke the deadlock from an Alfie free kick on the half way line which dropped onto the penalty spot, Max’s gambling run nodded the ball over the keeper for the tap in. Max was soon in the action again when he was tripped in the penalty box, calmly converting the penalty to make it 2-0. Abbey’s resolve dropped for the rest of the half, but Finch weren’t getting forward quick enough to capitalise and were making things hard by getting tackled with the ball or playing hospital passes. Finch saw out the half after defending an Abbey corner.
The team talk at half time was all about looking after the ball (which doesn’t mean taking lots of touches) and not giving them space to play.
Although Abbey came out fired up, Finch were now more compacted up the pitch and were starting to play quicker passing combinations and working the space well. Winning the ball in tight spaces and distributing it quickly. Our defensive unit continued their strong performance from the first half into the second, working hard to neutralise the Abbey runners. A Finch corner was short-punched by their keeper only to be smashed into the net by Jack on the half volley for 3-0. And another corner taken by Lewis was perfectly attacked by Ollie (attacking the space, calling for the ball and making clean contact) to head in the final goal of the game. Abbey continued to counter and did work up some shooting opportunities, but Finch were getting the blocks and saves in to protect the goal.
4-0 final score, keeping the important clean sheet is a superb start to 2019.