Considering we’ve had some very low turn outs at training over the past couple of weeks I couldn’t complain about the team’s performance in Rnd 3 on what was a very hot day. Overall Russell Vale played the better football and were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point against last season’s Division II Grand Finalists. Just an observation but Figtree had some of the tallest 11-12 year olds I have ever seen in my life.
The home sides tactics consisted of getting it up to the front three as quickly as possible (route one football). However for most of the game Jack Donnelly and Baxter Bowler Prentice in the heart of defence were more than a match for their quick strikers and when they needed help Ethan Johnson was quick off his line to thwart the Figtree attack. Figtree’s only goal of the first half came against the run of play after both Bailey & Christian Baade Mortimer along with Jordan Errington all went close to opening the score for the Cobras (HT 1-0 to Figtree).
As Coach I didn’t need to change much at HT we were passing well, creating chances but we had to cut out the supply to their strikers. In the second half we missed a couple, Figtree missed a couple before a good move down the left involving Tom Curran, Christian Baade Mortimer and Blair Dunn set up Jordan Errington to poke home his second of the season and Russell Vale’s equaliser. The Cobras then enjoyed their best spell of the game and pushed for a second with both Harrison Benn (playing his first game of the season) and Jordan Errington both having shots pushed onto the bar by the Figtree keeper. One goal mouth scramble saw three Russell Vale players try to force the ball over the line but once again their keeper came out on top. With only a few minutes left on the clock the Cobras went to sleep, lost possession in their own half and Figtree’s striker took full advantage to score with three defenders hanging off him. It can only be described as an “ugly goal”, I’m sure the supporters at the game know exactly what I mean.
Despite the defeat there are a lot of positives to draw from the game, the Cobras showed they are more than a match for one of the top teams in the division. There were also some fine individual performances especially in defence, the two centre backs I’ve mentioned already but also the fullbacks Ethan Lanarch and Tom Curran battled away as if their lives depended on it. The last word goes to Ethan Johnson whom probably had his best game between the sticks, his handling, saves and quickness off his line even surprised me.
I said back in February this would be a season of consolidation for the players as they come to terms with the pace, concentration and technical level required to survive in Division II. Like LIVERPOOL they are going through a transition period so we all have to be patient. They have played well in two of the first three games but their performances have not been reflected in points on the board or position in the league table. They are all bright kids and as such I’m confident they will adapt and learn a lot from this season.