Finchampstead Hurricanes 3 - 2 Abbey Diamonds
This was always going to be a tough game to play mentally – we already knew how Abbey prefer a physical game and after they won the last head-to-head, they probably started the game with a head start.
The Hurricanes were typically a little slow out of the blocks, but after an initial shaky 10 mins, started to dominate. Without the usual midfielders, we asked a lot of the players we put in that position, but credit to them, they worked hard and made life difficult for Abbey. Noah and Lewis in particular worked hard to create opportunities for those around them. A couple of hastily-taken shots further up field were skyed over the Abbey goal but we kept applying the pressure.
Frustratingly, the lads took their eye off the ball (literally!) just for a moment and allowed Abbey to pounce – a scramble in the box following their only attack in the first quarter and - totally against the run of play - it was One : Nil to Abbey. A similar lapse of concentration / poor communication in our box a few moments later allowed the away team to double their score from a well-taken free kick. Two : Nil to Abbey and we were beginning to look a little shell-shocked.
Full praise to the Hurricanes though, they refused to give in and came straight back at Abbey, Henry and Callum having decided to switch sides allowed us to "release the Kraken" down the left side, one-on-one with their goalie and there was only going to be one winner : Henry slotted in a beautiful cross-goal shot, Two : One to Abbey and Game On!
Minutes later, the Hurricanes - now brimming with confidence - were awarded a free kick on the right hand side, too far out to shoot directly. Ollie delivers a curving cross, Morgan rises to the challenge, and Boom!: one of the headers of the season, no goalie going to save that one! Two : Two with everything to play for.
The half time talk focussed on working hard, winning the ball back, passing to feet, slow build up and simple shooting. Patience paid off half way into the second half, Lewis delivering his trade-mark accurate free kick which piled pressure on Abbey defence. In the chaos that ensued, Callum somehow found the back of the Abbey net and for the first time, Hurricanes are in the lead, Three : Two!
For the remaining 15 mins, the focus was on retaining possession against a totally riled and increasingly frustrated Abbey - questioning referee decisions, getting more physical with tackles, and causing all sorts of problems as they attacked relentlessly en masse. Our back line held strong: Billy – Alfie – Jacob – Ben M with Ben A now in goal collectively creating an impenetrable force field. Dan, Marcus and Lewis held up the ball in midfield, passing the ball effortlessly around at times to further frustrate the opposition.
Referee blows his whistle, final score Three : Two to the Hurricanes. Great to see such character in the team today, all worked hard for each other. Super to see Alfie back today, and as we said at the end, he and Noah added a very different dimension, complementing a really top team, well done boys.