Potton End 0 Hobbs Hill Wood 10 (Ten!)
Another match, another glorious victory.
To set the scene, we headed over to Potton End for our third league match. Autumnal mist and failing light gave everything a slightly gloomy, miserable feeling. We were up for another battle, but we were kind of battling the elements, too. It didn't help that it had taken us forever to get through the traffic to the other side of Hemel Hempstead. As frustrating as it had been sitting in traffic, at least we weren't out standing out in the cold, wondering where the other team had got to!
Eventually we all arrived and had the briefest of warm-ups. In fact, the warm-up was mainly me telling everyone how their positions were going to change. Unfortunately, we were a player down thanks to some badly timed illness. This meant that, once again, we had only seven players who were going to have to play the entire match. On the plus side, no one had to worry about being substituted (unless they were doing *really* badly!). For this match, we welcomed Albie into the team - with clear instructions on how to fit into our system.
Not to give anything away to our future oppositions, but our tactics were very simple: pass the ball sensibly, give and go, don't all go gung-ho and attack en masse, call for the ball, only shoot if you think you have a chance of scoring - you know, basic common sense stuff.
The match started very much like the last match and we were straight into the groove - lots of pressure, solid challenges, great passing and early chances. It wasn't long before Alfie opened the scoring with a great right-footed strike from distance which flew into the top corner. Nice.
The second goal went in soon after. Alfie's corner was flicked in at the near post by Kieran. Very nice.
Earlier than hoped, we were at that stage again where a two-goal lead could be quite dangerous. Some over-confidence from us could lead to some holes at the back and the game could swing back in the other direction. Thankfully, this never looked like happening. As well as our attacking players were doing, Freddie and Riley ware rock solid in defence and were sticking to their roles with real determination.
Before we knew it, we were three-nil up. A wonderful passing move down the right led to a pin-point cross by Kieran, who found Alfie - who confidently swept the ball home with aplomb.
Now then, the thing is this - the better we play, the more picky I get with the team. The final five minutes of the first half were not our best. It's not that we did anything wrong, it's just that our play got a bit ragged. Some loose passes didn't find their targets and some long range shots were more in hope than expectation. The half-time whistle gave us a chance to compose ourselves and remember our basic tactics.
The second half started really well with a number of quick chances. Their 'keeper was making some big saves and keeping the scoreline down to something respectable. He could do nothing, though, about our fourth. A lovely passing move was finished off by Kieran, who passed the ball into the bottom corner.
After some great performances in our previous matches, Ollie finally got himself on the score sheet. His long shot was smashed towards the goal and took the slightest of deflections before finding the top left corner.
Next was Alfie's turn. Another flowing move from defence to attack was put away with a brilliant finish from outside the box.
Up to this point, Albie had been involved in many of our attacking moves without having anything clear-cut to get himself on the score sheet. All of that changed midway though the second half. A great dribble was followed by an even better cut inside, which completely tucked up their defender. All that was left to do was slide in and tap the ball past the oncoming 'keeper - which he did.
And then, our keeper found himself with something to do! Having been a virtual spectator up to that point, a well-paced through ball meant that he was finally called into action. Judging things perfectly, Lewis sprinted out and cleared the ball, a split-second before their striker could reach it.
Albie, clearly feeling that one goal was not enough, tapped in his second from close range.
Kieran then had a glorious chance for another. Centre of the goal, and with only the 'keeper to beat, he decided to go for power. His thunderous shot hit the post with such force that it knocked the whole goal backwards. It wasn't a goal, but it was certainly a memorable moment - as was his really clever flick, moments later, that went just past the other post.
Time was quickly running out, but we were not finished yet. Albie grabbed his hat-trick thanks to a dreadful goal-kick which he intercepted and tucked away. Considering the number of goals that we scored, this was the only one down to an error by the opposition.
And we still weren't done! Alfie wanted one more and smashed in another shot from distance. And then we were done.
This was a true team effort and everyone played their part. A quality performance from beginning to end.
That's the way to start a weekend!