From the shelter of the car park behind the changing rooms, it was lovely in the sun despite the temperature reading 3 degrees in the car….but out on the pitch-side it was bitter with the wind blowing down the length of the smaller-than-normal pitch!!
Although Claygate got off to a very quick start with the pace of their wingers, the Hurricanes were solid in defence and turned the game around straight away. Jacob's decision to play with the wind in the first half helped keep the pressure on the home team. Other than a few Claygate breaks, the lads were camped in the home team's half for most of the game, playing the ball around well in the usual Finch style of possession football.
Claygate are a big side and it was a physical game with strong challenges going in, but Finch gave as good as they got (and we could see why they have achieved some good results against the stronger teams in the division). And with Claygates defence sitting deeper than most teams, Finch couldn’t create many clear opportunities in front of goal. Claygate did get a shot on target after a pass was intercepted, beaten away from goal by Ben A at full diving stretch. And Ben M came closest after beating this defender to the ball in the penalty box. Ollie took a knock to his back early on and had to retire from the rest of the game, although he was desperate to play even though he couldn’t walk properly.
0-0 at half time and very nice to get out of the wind in the changing room for a few minutes during the half time talk!!
The second half was a more even game with the wind continuing to influence play by suppressing Finch long balls this time. But Finch worked the ball well on the ground and enjoyed good spells of attacking play. Claygate continued to get numbers behind the ball and made things difficult for Finch. The best chance for Finch was a cross into the box but the first time shot from near the penalty spot went high over the goal. Claygate came very close too from a corner aimed at their “tall kid” which took a few bobbles before being cleared. Both teams continued to battle toe-to-toe right to the end, resulting in Marcus retiring from the game with a shoulder injury.
Final score 0-0.
Finch and Claygate's results suggested this would be a close game and it proved to be the case. Both teams neutralised each others attacks with solid team work and defending in numbers, with a goal either way looking likely to come from an individual mistake. Finch’s rapid pressing all over the pitch and defending in numbers was excellent…if Claygate got past one Finch player, there was another pouncing on them to deny them playing space!! The midfield battle was full on with very little space to play for either side, although Finch were winning more of the battles throughout the game due to determined play from Cam, Marcus and Adam plus additional support from the defensive and attacking players to create the overloads. We saw some superb confident possession play from the lads working under pressure in tight spaces, good 1-2 touch passing play and attacking support.
Today's draw puts the Hurricanes now clear in 5th on 17 points (5 wins, 2 draws, 5 losses), just above Burpham. 1 point behind 4th (Haslemere) and still 3 points behind 3rd (Claygate). No other games were played today by the looks of the results web site. There are 4 league games left to finish the season.
Next week (4th March) Finch are at home against Knaphill, who snatched the draw in the last seconds of the away game after Finch had battered them but could only find the target once all game.
Well done lads and good luck for next week!