In sport and life there are times when words will fail us, they shall fail to describe the sheer beauty and perfection given to us, this weekend’s performance falls into that category!
Going into the game I was a little worried that our concentration wouldn’t be what it should be as training was a little disjointed in comparison to our previous sessions, this was down to the limited space for all three of the U11 squads at Burlington Danes.
The training ground had been changed because a half marathon was taking place at our regular practice ground of Hyde Park.
Although training felt disjointed, being at Burlington Danes did bring about its benefits, having a marked out pitch allowed us to work on our organisation in specific situations. It also meant I was able to supply the Silvers with visual references and ques of where to be and what to do in various types of situations.
We also continued to focus on the principles of passing and receiving, making sure the Silvers were taking a touch to give themselves time to identify danger, assistance and open space as well as making sure when off the ball they were moving into open space on the pitch, this generates support to the player on the ball and allows us to maintain control.
Match day rolled around again and our next challenge was against the unknown Harrow Youth FC.
The team talk consisted of warning the Silvers that because we did not know anything about our opposition, we must expect them to be the toughest team we have been matched against all season, this would require us to work hard and make sure they do not get a moments peace on the ball.
We had to stay focused and calm on the ball so we can give ourselves the best possible chance at producing a good performance.
With Flynn ill and Remi away the Silvers took on Harrow with Milo in goal, Jonah and Alexander in defence, Cameron, Charles, Gyan and Sasha in midfield and Cash and Georges up top.
The game got underway and it was the Foxes who looked the most imposing, moving the ball around with crisp passing saw us progress through the thirds well. However a lapse in concentration saw Harrow hit us on a quick break and take the lead against the run of play with a well-placed strike to the far post.
Credit to the Silvers because after such an early goal they could have let their heads drop and their focus slip! That is not who my Silvers are though! They dusted the dirt of their shoulders and set about with immense energy, concentration, desire and strength on the task at hand.
For the entire first half we pressed high up the pitch, we pressed quickly and we pressed in cohesion with each other. The closest man was pressing and the second was covering, this meant when the Harrow players were hounded into mistakes there was always a team mate ready to support the Silver whom had won the ball. This allowed us to turn defence into attack quickly and on many occasions get shots off at their goal.
With the tireless pressing and crisp passing being demonstrated it was bewildering that with a minute or so left of the first half the Foxes still found themselves a goal down. However, after our 7th or 8th corner (we had 5 in a row at one point) the ball exited the box only to be gathered up by Alex whom took a touch, looked up and with the accuracy of a marksman guided a powerful strike from outside the area into the bottom right of the goal, what a well-earned and perfectly timed goal. The Foxes were back in business 1-1.
Half time arrived and the Silvers got themselves a well-earned drink and 15 minute rest. During this break the players were talking about how they had never run so much before and how amazing we were playing, this prompted me to remind them that only the first half had been played and that only with the same attitude and work rate will we be able to end the game with a win.
During the first half the referee was giving a lot of decisions Harrow’s way; this at times was slowing our play down leaving us frustrated, prompting the message to stay calm and just focus on what we can do to make sure they do not score.
We lined up for the second half with Gyan in goal, Jonah and Alex in defence, Sasha, Cameron, Milo and Ossian in midfield and Georges and Cash up front.
The second half began and straight from the off we pressed quickly and intelligently with most of their ventures into our half being snuffed out by the imposing presence of Jonah and Alex. They won absolutely everything in the air and intercepted everything on the ground with great intelligence.
Despite the best efforts of both the Harrow team and the referee, the Silvers finally took the lead thanks to a gorgeously weighted through ball which glided into the path of Georges, whom with great composure calmly carried the ball into the box and slotted like a mini Messi past the keepers left! 2-1 Silvers and a wonderful example of what can be achieved with team work and calmness in our roles.
After taking the lead and all the hard work that went into achieving the advantage, the Foxes may have been excused for dropping off a bit and protecting what they earned, but my Foxes are a hungry bunch and we wanted to kill this match off.
Again we pressed them into mistakes and again we were opening them up with great work on the left, in the centre and on the right with diligent work from Cameron, Ossian and Milo. The Foxes could have ended this match with six or more goals but the match would only see one more goal and it was for the Silvers.
Georges again demonstrating intelligence to be in the correct attacking position and the composure to fire in from close range, this ensured victory for the Foxes with a score line of 3-1.
The post-game talk was focused on highlighting how hard work and believing in our ability will always be more rewarding than cheating.
Each player deserves a special mention as they all contributed hugely.
In the first half he played in goal and was calm, intelligent and focused. This allowed for wonderful positioning which on many occasions thwarted the oppositions attacks. In the second half he played on the right of midfield and was phenomenal. Defending with energy and hunger he aided in keeping their left winger quiet for most of the second half. He attacked them with confidence and intelligence, making passes at the correct times after twisting their defenders inside out 2, 3, 4 times in a row. A truly well rounded performance in which he demonstrated the qualities of both sides of his game. Perfect.
The captain was again different class today, he thwarted attack after attack with smart use of his body and his positioning as well perfectly timed tackles which left the Harrow boys at a loss of what to do. When on the ball as always he was calm and composed to use his wonderful ability to twist the defending team left and right before picking out a well spotted pass. Another wonderful performance.
This weekend Alex transformed into a tank, nothing was getting past him, be it in the air or on the ground. He demonstrated his valuable problem solving skills with great use of his body to thwart the opposition from making tracks into our area. He also had the composure and vision to pick out a beautiful, gorgeous, delicious strike into the bottom right corner, this is the product of hunger, calmness, energy and intelligence. Superb performance, absolutely wonderful.
Sasha is a diamond in the rough, being played in a defensive role again due to his boundless energy and tireless running, unmovable strength and fearlessness when seeking the ball. This means he doesn’t often get the chance to grab a goal and sparkle how he would like but, his hard work does not go unnoticed. When he wins the ball he does so with ferocious energy and then has the calmness and vision to pick a pass. This weekend he broke down their attacks, interfered in their play and then set us on our attacks. He was our engine and always kept things ticking over, amazing performance.
After the game Gyan said something to me that I feel shows what a credit he is to our squad. He said “I have never run so hard”. Every training session, every match he plays Gyan is always trying to push himself beyond his limits, to be able to learn more, to understand more and ultimately to play better. This is a quality I value very, very much. This weekend he chased everything, when on the ball he picked out intelligent passes after driving past the opposition with beautiful technique. In the second half his services were required in goal and he was immense. His positioning, calmness and vision allowed the Foxes to look incredibly stable at the back especially when looking to move the ball out. His performance was a pleasure to watch. Wonderful stuff.
Charles again demonstrated his imaginative fancy tricks and flicks, time and again he opened their defence up to play intelligent passes into dangerous areas. He pressed very well and on many occasions forced their players into mistakes. His movement was also top quality, moving into open space to receive the ball and more times than not find himself in the area to shoot. On another day he would have left with two or more goals but sometimes the luck doesn’t swing our way, great performance.
Cameron over the last two games has been remarkable. His defensive game has improved as has his passing game, tackling well and linking up with his teammates saw Cameron create many openings. He tracked back wonderfully and his strength in the middle allowed us to completely run the game and create chances at will. A wonderful, focused and impressive performance. Super work.
Ossian always demonstrates such high energy, he attacked and defended with no fear. Twisting and turning defenders to glide into the box and cause serious problems for the Harrow defence. His energy allowed us to counter quickly and therefore keep Harrow on the back foot. Amazing performance great hard work produced.
Flawless. Amazing. Perfect. These words don’t even come close to describing how well Cash played this week. He pressed everything and never stopped until he physically could not go on. He gave everything to the Silvers popping up in all areas of the pitch to assist his teammates. If we could see a heat map of his movement we would be able to use it as a torch as it would be glowing. When on the ball he danced through players with great technique and had the vision and awareness to pick out a pass. Flawless.
Again another performance which cannot be done justice by words, his attack positioning was top, top quality. In the right areas at the right time he was able to add another two goals to his three last week, bringing his tally to five goals in two games. Phenomenal. The way he drives at players with complete fearlessness makes you forget that he isn’t 6ft 2. His mazy runs keep defenders on their toes and second guessing themselves because they are not sure if he is going left or right and this he often capitalises on with precise finishing. A fantastic addition to the Silvers squad and this week’s man of the match. Perfect.
This weekend saw the foxes dig deep, work hard, trust each other, not give up and fight with focus. Because we did all these things we were able to come away with a well-earned result against a well organised team. Remember though we are what we do and so we must continue to replicate these performances in order to become unbeatable.
Thank you to everyone whom came and supported the silvers, your voices played a big part in why we did not let our heads drop. Have a great week and I look forward to seeing you all next weekend.