Saturday 12th October
It was a miserable old day for Finchampstead Rovers’ local derby away to Bracknell Colts. The rain continued to fall steadily throughout the morning but the ground staff had done a cracking job and the game was on.
The first notable action to get the crowd peeking out from under their umbrellas was a fast break by Nathaniel, straight down the down the middle of the pitch. It was a sign of things to come...
Lucas S was also in attack mode, having been given an opportunity on the left wing rather than his regular left back position, making a number of runs into the Colts’ half early in the match. Over on the right Bunny was also happy to run at defenders and Sam F was equally busy in midfield, linking play and always looking to move play forward.
Early in the first half was arguably one of the best moves of the match, and one which surely give the coaching team a strong signal that their hard work this season is starting to pay off...
Bunny received the ball out wide on the right wing. He made some space for himself with a quick turn which deceived the defender but the way forward was still congested. Despite the crowd urging him on, Bunny opted to pass back to Josh, which allowed the ball to flow all the way across the back line to Jake Mac at left back. It was done with such speed and precision that the Bracknell defence was still overloaded on the other side of the pitch, and all of a sudden Finch had the space to move forward.
Jake Mac’s nicely weighted pass forward to Lucas eventually resulted in a shot over the crossbar, but it was the manner in which Rovers made the opening which was so satisfying to watch. Great stuff.
However, did the effectiveness of these opening salvos create a little over confidence amongst the Rovers players? Perhaps the boys had checked the league table that morning and seen Colts languishing near the bottom? Whatever it was, there was a firm lesson in store for Rovers, who seemed to lose some intensity as the half progressed.
After Finch lost the ball in midfield (in extremely slippery conditions to be fair) Colts broke forward. Before Rovers could regain their shape, an intelligent diagonal ball sliced through their flat back line and a Colts striker was on hand to finish the move with a low shot to the far right corner. 1-0 to Colts.
Perhaps in part due to the conditions making it tricky to judge the required weight, there had been a few over-hit passes from Finch when looking for the through ball. But when Finch attached for the first time since they went behind, Jake Mo played the ball perfectly into space for Nathaniel. He couldn’t keep his shot under the crossbar, but Finch knew they had a come back in them.
Likewise Bracknell weren’t content to sit back and protect their lead. After an impressive break down the left, a foul on the Colts winger gave him free kick close to the by line. Undeterred by the tight angle, he whipped a shot goalward, but stand in keeper George was equal to it and produced a solid parry. A superbly timed challenge by Ollie in the box finally saw off the threat.
Sam T continued his good form. When he chased back to cut out a through ball from Colts, rather than just simply hoof it clear, he calmly beat the Colts forward who was attempting to close him down, and hit a confident pass out to Nathaniel. Nice football.
Nathaniel laid the ball off to Jake but received it straight back and pushed forward down the left all the way to the box. His successive shots were blocked by the well-positioned Colts keeper but the second spooned up the air to the far post where, you’ve guessed it, King of the Poachers, Bunny, was there to prod it home. 1-1
At the other end, George pulled off a superb save, patting down and gathering a well struck shot which, given the wet conditions, could have been far trickier than he made it look.
A powerful clearance from Sam T turned out to be a perfect ball forward to leave Nathaniel in a foot race with the Colts defender, and there was only going to be one winner there. One on one with the keeper, the Finch striker dropped his left shoulder to unbalance the keeper and calmly slotted the ball in the right corner. 1-2, and Finch were re ahead for the first time in the match.
After the traditional half-time rocket, Finch look determined to put the match to bed. A perfectly weighted ball from Adam to Nathaniel resulted in a corner. George stepped up and fired the ball right into the danger zone and it ricocheted off an under pressure Colts player for an own goal. 1-3 to the Finch Rovers.
Finch’s defence looked more solid now. A towering header from Sam T cleared a Colts free kick, and Josh and Jake Mac were typically dogged on the flanks. Further up-field, Alfie was determined not to give his opposite numbers any time on the ball and his impressive pressing was complemented by some confident passing.
Kam, who was having another good defensive game, showed a lovely bit of skill, deftly lifting the ball over the top of the Colts defensive line for Nathaniel to run onto. His shot beat keeper and everyone (including James who was up in support from the left wing) thought it was going in. But the combination of heavy ground and side spin took it agonisingly past the far post before James could react. The game was not won yet...
Inside the last 10 minutes, James picked up the ball in midfield and made a run down the left wing. Having gained half a yard on the defender he resisted the temptation to cut back in on his favoured right foot and hit an early cross into the box with his left. The ever brave Colts keeper just beat Bunny to the ball, but the resultant Finch corner found Josh on the edge of the area, He had time to pick his spot, but despite the dipping trajectory of his well struck shot, it just sneaked over the bar.
Finch were still looking for that fourth goal. And finally it came. After a determined run by Bunny on the right, the ball seemingly glued to his feet, he passed back to Adam on the edge of the area and boom, he fired it high into the back of the net for his first Rovers goal. It surely won’t be the last with a right foot like that!
It was the right result in the end; Rovers showed great character to come back from a goal down and learned a valuable lesson at the same time. The next time Mr Complacency comes a knocking, they won’t be home.
Bracknell Colts 1 - 4 Finchampstead Rovers