Sunday 28 September 2013
Village Seconds kicked off their league campaign in glorious September sunshine against league new boys Real Mancs. The squad included no less than five players making their league debuts for the club and the start to the game reflected it.
From the off there were moments where Village looked threatening making good use of the pitch's width. Jordan Langford was a menace on the left flank with Clayton also having the measure of his man. However the lack of familiarity was also plain to see as several times the ball came through the middle and with Real Mancs having some useful attacking players, Sal and Mike Pollitt soon found themselves coming under significant pressure at times.
The game was shaping up as an open ended encounter however with Steve Holmes battling hard against two big central defenders. Jordan was the first to create a serious chance cutting into the box from the left and firing a shot across the face of goal that the opposing keeper must have been very glad to see hit the post. It was not long before Jordan turned provider however, getting close to the byline before neatly squaring it to Steve Holmes who made no mistake with the finish slotting it firmly into the goal beyond the keeper's reach.
Village were unable to assert any degree of dominance over the game however and it remained an open encounter with Real Mancs continuing to threaten and drawing a fine save from Jeremy Baker making his return to goalkeeping doodies after his extended holiday. It was not long before the opposition were rewarded when a smart turn followed by a quick run gave the winger all the space he needed to beat Jeremy slamming home into the bottom corner. After this Real upped their work rate and increased the pressure when after getting in behind Village's left flank this time, they were again able to find the space to give Jeremy no chance.
At half time Matt stressed the importance of maintaining concentration when out of possession and warning players that not playing a short ball because it didn't get you forward was a school boy error. The message was to retain possession at all costs and not to give the opposition the opportunity to put us under pressure.
Half time: VMFC2 1-2 Real Mancs
VMFC2 v Real Mancs
However the second half started in a similar vein to the end of the first with Real Mancs causing increasing problems however credit to Village as they began to claw their way back into the game. Pressure was coming through debutant Tom Slater and Jordan combining to good effect and fellow newbie Panos Papademetriou (we're going to have fun with that one!). Village gradually began to finally assert themselves on the game as their opponents began to tire and eventually Jordan was able to rattle home a trademark finish from 20 plus yards to make it 2-2.
A moment of defensive frailty on the flanks allowed Real to restore their lead briefly before an edge of the box wonder strike from Panos playing on the left wing (we're letting him have 'wonder strike' instead of 'jammy cross' in the interests of player retention!) lobbed the keeper and dropped in and over the line at the far post. Thereafter Jordan took advantage of a moment of defensive confusion and a kind richochet to find himself unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. He had the awareness to realise that to tee Steven up for a tap in he needed to cut it back and he cleverly did so leaving Steven to literally walk the ball over the line amidst the howls of anguish from the Real defence.
Village were able to go forward at will now with Pete Edwards finally seeming to shake off the previous nights exertions and combine with Mark Ranson to excellent effect and nullify the threat coming down Village's right side. Langford and Holmes combined once more however perhaps Steven was too preoccupied with his boyfriend's new haircut to concentrate on converting for his hat trick. Whatever the reason, only Steven will know how he managed to join such legends as Ronnie Rosenthal and Chris Iwelomu in contention for all time greatest miss hitting the bar from all of three yards with the keeper on the floor. Jordan seemed determined to share the love however though and duly obliged Steven with an identical ball which Steven was able to tuck away and complete a well deserved hat trick.
Defence is definitely something to be addressed but there are some quality additions in key areas that should give Matt plenty to be optimistic over the course of the season and plenty to worry our next opponents!
Full time: VMFC2 5-3 Real Mancs