There aren’t many better ways to start the season, lovely weather, great pitch, lots of supporters and our lads in the full blue away kit battling toe-to-toe with Virginia Waters Maroons. The visitors have been playing at the higher level in the Premier Elite (top of the SPL) for at least 2 years, and got relegated at the end of last season. They proved to be a very strong and skilful team.
We had Finch debuts from our new signings this season : Jake in goal, Max up top and Jack in midfield. Ben A started outfield and not to forget Dave Pickup running the line (thank you).
It was really good to get a chance to brief the lads on the 4-3-3 formation without distractions using the magnetic board (other than the straw hat which magically found its way onto Simon’s head shortly after this photo was taken). And great to see Callum, helping us out in the warm up!!
To be honest, it was a slow start in the warm up and in the game from our lads (something we need to work on). The Visitors pressed hard and Finch were hanging on at times. 20 mins in and a lapse of concentration let the Maroons through on goal and they took the lead half way through the first half. Finch picked up the intensity and were pressing harder, containing Virginia Waters and only giving them wild shots miles off target. Both teams were putting in the physical challenges and Finch were holding their own, although often playing the ball into the air making it easy to defend (something else we need to work on). A free kick before half time in the oppositions half gave Alfie the chance to float a ball into their penalty box for Ollie to flick on the equaliser. 1-1 and game on!!
The second half was full on with both teams working the ball up the pitch well and creating chances. Both teams were defending in numbers, forcing errors and winning the ball back. The Maroons got their second goal by forcing an error from the home team. Finch responded brilliantly, further increasing the pressure and work rate.
Jake pulled off a top-draw save from a free kick to keep the lads in the game. Ollie’s persistence and cross into Max hit a very tender spot (on Max) and didn’t find the net, a 1-on-1 for Max was saved. Ollie’s free kick into the bottom far corner of the goal was tipped around the post and the following corner couldn’t be converted either. The Virginia Waters keeper kept them in the game as they hung on in the final minutes of the game.
The Hurriances defensive team were excellent, working well as a unit and supporting the midfield well (Billy, Dan, Ben A, Jacob and Alfie). Midfield put in a shift between them, working hard with just 3 players covering the breadth of the large leas (Jack, Adam, Cam, James and Marcus). And the attacking team worked hard to keep possession up the pitch and press the ball from the front (Max, Ollie, Lewis and Ben M). Jake’s distribution and back-pass option made a big difference and took the pressure off the lads.
Although a 2-1 defeat in the opener for the season, the lads put in a good performance overall and deserved at least a draw with the chances they created at the end of the game. But wasn’t to be today!! Loads of positives to take away, especially the more attacking 4-3-3 formation which works well with the mix of lads we have and some of the new positions for some of the lads as well. And there are some things to work on training too!!