Today’s match against OLOL was a huge learning experience for the team. This match, being the first time some of the boys had played together, meant that from kick-off we were at a disadvantage. During the early stages of the game, it was clear that nerves were present amongst the squad. Our initial plan of playing with three at the back was quickly changed once we realised the quality present in the opposition’s attacking line. Despite all of this, the boys soon settled into the game and found their feet. During the first half the boys played well defensively, although there was very little to offer when going forward as we were too tentative in our approach. We were perhaps lucky that at half time the scores remained level at 0-0.
The game shifted in our favour going into the second half, after shuffling the squad and adjusting our formation, we began to play some very good attacking football. Playing Cameron Douglas in a more advanced position gave us another option when attacking, Cameron himself showed the opposition that he is a very capable player and OLOL struggled to cope with his strength and speed. Now with our newfound confidence, chances began to come our way. After a few good efforts it was clear to see that the match was ours for the taking and OLOL became visibly nervous as mistakes began to take place. Dylan McCloskey showed that he is a very capable player and constantly applied pressure on the opposition, this continued pressure gave rise to a great chance that we were unlucky not to convert.
Towards the end of the game it became clear that we lacked the match experience and fitness, as once again pressure was applied by OLOL, who squandered an excellent chance to take the lead. Robbie Blair put in a solid performance in the backline and kept his composure during some difficult situations, which allowed us to absorb the pressure coming our way and then play the ball back out for some good counterattacking play. Despite the final push by OLOL, the boys remained disciplined and kept the clean sheet. A final result of 0-0 seemed fair when considering the match as a whole.
There were plenty of positives to take from the game. Many factors at the beginning of the match indicated how difficult it would be for the boys to take anything from this game. An away game is always difficult, but on top of this the boys were facing a much more experienced side, with many other matches behind them and as mentioned previously, this was our first outing of the season. Despite this, the boys quickly adjusted to the roles given to them. To take a point in this match given all this is a remarkable achievement in itself. It was pleasing to see the boys turn out in force for the match and their work today showed that, with more training, there is plenty of potential in the squad.
To highlight the efforts made by the boys not already mentioned. Our goalkeeper Adam Lamont put in a good display today. While untested during large portions of the game; he remained alert and made some fine saves during the match. Our backline of Leo Wilson, Robbie Blair, Cameron Douglas and Reece Steele showed good coordination between themselves and did well to limit the chances the opposition were given.
Our midfield went through several shifts during the match as we looked to find our best formation. Throughout the game, contributions were made by Tyler Hutchinson, Matthew Sloan, Kevin Hunter, Daniel Smyth, Travis Kane and Zach Harrison. Travis put in a fine performance intercepting a number of passes in the middle of the pitch and was also utilised as a centre back when Cameron was pushed further forward. Tyler Huthinson deserves a special mention for his work in the centre, he showed he has a good touch and turn of pace and constantly provided support, both in attack and defence.
Finally, our attacking line of Dylan McCloskey and Josh Bradley constantly pestered the opposition. Josh was unlucky not to score from a close-range effort, as well as a speculative effort towards the end of the game. Dylan wore the captain’s armband for the day and showed that he was worthy of the honour. He constantly motivated the team and provided support when needed. His efforts provided us with a number of opportunities when we were attacking.
Special thanks to Anthony for providing transport as well as providing gentle guidance from the side-lines. A special thanks as well to Mr. A. Linton for his work training the boys after school on Wednesdays, today’s performance is a testament to the effort he has put into the team. We both look forward to our next training session and hope to see all the boys ready and motivated for the next match to come.