U16s Div 2 Match report NFC 16cs v NSU 16ds 12 June 2021

U16s Div 2 Match report NFC 16cs v NSU 16ds 12 June 2021

This our first opportunity this season to play against complete opposition against a high-flier within Division 2 with no obvious weaknesses. I was told before the match that they were physical and capable and so they proved. 

 With Matt K a late injury withdrawal following Matt C and Patrick’s injury exclusions on Thursday and Friday, we took 13 players along (Nick on the longer term injury list and Max M unavailable).

 The start was propitious with some very skillful exchanges between our central midfield of Josh and Lachlan M releasing Tom B frequently forward with runs on the left corner and the left side of the box and Sol more in the center forward position.  In one instance, Josh was actually released through onto the left side only for his left foot shot to ease past the right post.  Sol burst through and lobbed the keeper only for the keeper to be able to rush back and beat the ball off the line. 

 North Sydney presented significant challenges for our defense with two fast strikers and a controlling center half.  We conceded one or two corners but defended them ably.  Tom M and Charlie were kept very busy in the left back and center left back positions but did so with great skill.

 Unfortunately, after 18 minutes, Charlie got into a tangle with the North Sydney right attacker and a penalty was awarded.

 Despite an athletic dive to his right by Sam G, he was beaten for the first time this season and we found ourselves behind also for the first time this season. 

 Buoyed, North Sydney  soon launched an attack down the right side which was cut off expertly by Eric on the right side of the box.  Eric had come on after a sterling 15 minute display by Will in the right back position in which his positioning, almost like a basketballer, involved staying upright and close to his opponent quelling all attacks down the left hand side.  Inside him, Sam D was his usual industrious self but at one stage saw his challenge of running at the back responded to by three encircling North Sydney players.  Everything was harder and more challenging. 

 We rose to the occasion through a bit of Sol brilliance.  Almost out of nowhere Sol seized the ball on the forward line about 20 meters out before shooting from the edge of the box.  The pace at which the shot was taken rather than the speed of the shot itself caught the North Sydney goalkeeper slightly off his line and he was beaten in the top right corner for 1-all.

 Now with the confidence we created more forward opportunities with Tom and Sol shooting one shot to the right of the post.

 We had also begun to assert greater control on the wings with Lachlan A on the left side of midfield supported by Marcus’ hard defense and Max E, as a foretaste to the second half performance, controlling over on the right side of the midfield.  

    1. was reflective of the evenness of the game at half time but we were confident that we could more than match North Sydney.

 The second half started off with an early attack with Sol releasing Max E but he could not get any shot away before being crowded out by the North Sydney defense.

 The physicality of the game increased another notch as we endeavored to match North Sydney.  We gave away a few free kicks deep on the left side of our defense, one of which created chaos in the box and yielded no less than four blocks by our defenders before the ball was safely moved away. 

 The game started to become a little bogged down (like Bob Campbell Oval) into the middle part of the second half before another even better, and this time decisive goal, from Sol. Max E’s pass from the left forward was greeted by Sol facing the eastern touchline.  He flipped the ball up over the tall North Sydney central defender.  The North Sydney defender was looking up into the sky for the ball at the same time that Sol moved past him and then (why not) he volleyed in for 2-1.  Again, the skill and the speed of the maneuver rather than the power of the shot tricked both his marker and the goalkeeper.  There may be a better score this season but then again there may not.

 From that point on our defense, which had been fantastic throughout the match against opposition that was averaging five goals a game, redoubled its efforts.  We get the usual high quality positional and timing in our defensive line of Will, Tom M, Sam D and Charlie supported by our goalies (Thomas in the second half).  Their skill was enhanced by easily our best defensive midfield play of the year.  Lachlan M’s position slightly deeper than usual was exceptional and helped foil many attacks.  Josh and Marcus fought hard in the middle and on the wing and Max E, forward on the left supported by Lachlan A behind and Charlie at the back, shut down North Sydney on its right side. 

 North Sydney tried to swing across to its left side (our right side) with no success at all as Sam G, now out in the right back position, both strong in the tackle and powerful with his clearances (including a thunderous strike into his opponent’s face from close range). Eric chimed in with successive clearances for safety in the midfield and more and more we just looked like the better team.

 The continued pressure and frustration on North Sydney ended with them conceding an indirect free kick.  Max E teed up Sol for a  final strike which was well saved.  The subsequent clearance by the goalkeeper coincided with the final whistle. 

 A big away win which was remarkable for many things but the overall broad high-level contribution from all 13 players who made it onto the pitch.