Last weekend saw the Silvers travel to Eastcote, the home of Bessingby Park Rangers C for our first hurdle in the League challenge cup.
Again, we knew very little about Bessingby other than the fact that they were the league below. With our current form of two wins out of two the whole squad were confident of gaining a positive result.
Before the game I asked my players whether they had ever watched the FA Cup, which they replied yes. I then asked did the team in the higher league always get to the next round, they responded no.
I informed them that the reason for this is a mixture of two factors, the first is because the “better” team can fall into the trap of underestimating their opponents as well as the “weaker” team increasing motivation and quality of performance to match and surpass the “stronger” team.
I highlighted our own cup exploits last season, a campaign that saw us progress from a group with three “stronger” teams from the league above to progress to the quarter final.
I asked my players to not underestimate Bessingby, to not allow our confidence to be our downfall and to fight with the same energy, clear mind and togetherness that we demonstrated in the last two games. If we could again demonstrate those positive traits we would give a positive performance and gain a positive result.
We began this challenge in a 2-5-1 formation, we started with Harry in goal, our captain Jonah and Remi in defense, Ossian and Lucas on the wings, Gyan, Cameron and Sasha in the center and Georges up top.
The opposition lined up in a 3-4-1 formation.
The game got underway and Bessingby were moving the ball around well in their own half, we allowed them to do so without any pressure. This was until they entered our half, then we pressed them quickly and used the numbers in midfield to squeeze the space.
With space limited play was gritty, players struggling to have time to settle on the ball saw possession switch hands quite often. There back three were also doing a good job at stifling all the balls into Georges and therefore was seeing chances for us limited and on the few occasions we did get a sight of goal their keeper was equal to the challenge.
Although our positional discipline and defense against their through balls was fantastic, we were struggling to make chances and so when the half time whistle went changes were made.
With the score at half time 0-0 I was conscious of the fact that this early in the season extra time and penalties would not be a welcome addition, I was also aware that their back three were pretty untested.
This was due to them playing a deep line and us not having the time in midfield to pick out that perfect through ball into space because space was limited.
With all this in mind I switch to a 2-4-2 formation in the hopes that the two strikers and wingers would be able to create the space in the middle for our center midfielders to be able to get the ball into our strikers higher up the pitch.
Starting the second half was Harry in goal, our captain Jonah and Remi in defense, Ossian and Lucas on the wings, Georges and Sasha in midfield and Milo and Cameron up top.
In a matter of minutes the changes paid off, with Ossian combining well on the right with Jonah and Georges, the ball found its way to Milo in the box whom with composure beat his defender and calmly placed the ball passed the keeper to give the Silvers a 1-0 lead.
Not long after another great piece of combination football saw Cameron get on the score sheet and put the Silvers two goals up.
Credit to Bessingby, they did not give up. They kept trying to progress forward and make inroads into our final third however, they were up against a resolute Remi Plaskow whom was combining brains with brawn as he snuffed out runs with great positioning and strength. He also demonstrated beautiful decision making to leave the attackers bamboozled about which direction he was heading to and therefore was able to start attacks by getting the ball into the midfielders or strikers safely.
On the one occasion they did break into our box they found themselves met by the dominating presence of Harry who made a beautiful one handed save to deny Bessingby their only clear sight of goal.
With a two goal lead and every player finding tons of space the quality of performance increased tenfold from the first half, the combinations all over the pitch were leaving Bessingby chasing shadows and it wasn’t long until we snatched a third.
Cameron was giving their defenders a torrid time with weaving runs and unmovable strength and on one of many occasions he glided into the box from the right, with the angle against him he played the ball just behind the penalty spot for the late run of Georges.
Georges using the pace of the pass hit the ball first time out of the keepers reach and into the top left, this gave the Silvers a three goal lead.
Our positional discipline, quick passing and movement meant Bessingby were chasing shadows so when they did get close to us they were often too late with the challenge, and saw us being awarded free kicks.
In the first half Gyan got the ball over the wall to see his free kick saved by their keeper, Remi in the second half also saw his free kick saved. Would it be the case of third time lucky?
Up stepped Georges, the ball was positioned to the right of the goal, three players in the wall. Deceiving myself, his teammates and opposition he rolled the ball on the ground and around the wall, passed the outstretched hands of the keeper into the bottom left to complete a fantastic, mature, disciplined and ruthless second half by giving the Silvers a four goal lead.
The final whistle went and we were able to celebrate progressing to the next round of the cup.
This game was a real test of mentality and maturity and I am very proud the lads came through it with flying colours, again they demonstrated not only their great team ethic but also the energy and drive needed to come through the challenges set before them.
So far we have three wins out of three and I am supremely confident that this season with performances like those of the last three weeks we can push for a place in the latter stages of the cup and a place in division 1.
A huge thank you for the support received last weekend, your enthusiasm and positive motivation really does continue to enable the silvers to keep improving and keep performing without fear.