After a long, adventurous and relaxing summer the U12 Silvers squad flew back from the four corners of the globe to begin our first competitive league campaign.
This season the U12 Silvers moved from the Middlesex league and will now compete in the Harrow Youth League where the promise of better competition and organisation made the decision to swap an easy one.
One disadvantage to changing league is the lack of knowledge we have on the opposition, after spending 2 years working in the Middlesex league the information collected on the opposition was vast and invaluable for our preparation.
This meant in our first game against Hendon we would begin the challenge with our hands tied behind our back.
The four sessions leading up to this game focused on maintaining our shape, patience and energy when playing, with the departure of Charles I was now able to move away from last season’s formation of 2-5-1 and move to my preferred formation 2-4-2.
This formation I believe gives us a better balance in attack whilst also alleviating the pressure of the lone striker by giving him a partner.
After the four sessions I was quietly confident we would put in a positive performance however, I was still unclear on the quality of the opposition and therefore unsure if it would be a positive result.
Sunday rolled around and with it the familiar chill of the English autumn time however, the boys enthusiasm and energy soon burnt away any feeling of the cold.
Huddling up for the team talk the boys were reminded of last season’s opening day battering to Yeading and how a lack of energy added to our troubles in that game, they were also warned not to underestimate this team as we have no idea of what they are capable of and therefore must be expected to play amazing football. Finally, they were told their positions and formation.
Setting up in a 2-4-2 formation the Silvers started with Remi in goal for the absent Harry, Jonah at RCB, Alex at LCB, Milo and Lucas on the wings, Adrien our newest addition accompanied Cameron in the middle of the field with Sasha partnering Georges up top.
The opposition set up in a 3-2-3 formation.
The first half saw the Silvers play some good football, the passing and movement was filled with energy and our shape was organised. With our four in midfield moving the ball between the lines of Hendon’s defence crisply we were finding tons of space, this allowed Sasha to drive into the box from the left where he squared it to Georges who picked up where he left off last season to calmly slot the ball low to the keepers right, giving the Foxes a well-deserved lead.
The response from Hendon was positive and they forced us into a period of defending which in turn allowed them to capitalise on a lapse in concentration on our part. From a throw, the ball was played to their number 10 who opened up his body and under no pressure unleashed a strike over the outstretched hand of Remi.
They continued to apply pressure to our back line however, our good positioning and the return of our quick pressing restricted them to long shots which Remi was able to comfortably deal with.
Due to their number 10 being their driving force and linking their play, I decided to switch from 2-4-2 to 2-5-1 to keep the overload in midfield whilst also assigning one of the midfield 5 to man mark their number 10.
As the game went on they were again only able to manage long shots but this time these shots were rushed and their team began looking frustrated, their number 10 whilst still finding spaces to work in was struggling for time and options to be able to execute a moment of magic that his team was searching for.
By moving to the 2-5-1 we invited pressure in the hope that the oppositions defensive line would also push up and leave space in behind that Cameron could work in, and push up they did.
With their line high Cameron on a few occasions got in behind, on one such occasion he drew a free kick which Adrien on his debut confidently stepped up to take. Positioned to the right of the box he fired the ball across and out of reach of the keeper only to be denied by the cross bar, so unlucky.
Again though Cameron got in behind and this time found his shot saved by the keeper.
On the third time he got through there was no mistake, moving into the box from the left after bamboozling the Hendon centre back, Cameron rolled the ball passed the keeper to restore the Silvers one goal advantage.
The final seven minutes saw Hendon again apply pressure but our compact shape saw space for them limited and so everything that went into their front three was being gobbled up and moved to our midfield five.
Remi was asked to deal with a few long shots but his safe hands meant they did nothing but eat time away, in the end the Silvers confidently and comfortable saw out the game to achieve their first league win and a valuable 3 points.
What really impressed me in this game was our ability to comfortably switch our system from 2-4-2 and 2-5-1 and to generate a goal from both of these systems, with more practice I feel we shall have options for the many formations and scenarios we could face this season.
I was also impressed with our reaction to losing our lead, we didn’t let up or let it stick in our heads we just brushed it off and continued to work hard for each other.
I was unimpressed with the lapse in concentration that allowed their number 10 the time and space to fire a shot into our goal, if they have the ball in our defensive third we must apply pressure instantly otherwise that one second lapse can punish us as we again found out on Sunday.
Overall though I am extremely pleased with our progress over the first four sessions and I am eager to get back to work on Tuesday so we can prepare for the next challenge away against Parkfield Youth B.
A huge thank you is in order for the parents and supporters in attendance, again your presence and encouragement aided us in giving a positive performance which in turn allowed us to gain a positive result.
May you all have a good week and I look forward to facing the next challenge with you all next Sunday.