Sun 30
Wilvale Knights
A game of two halves (unfortunately)

A game of two halves (unfortunately)

By Andy Murphy
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Fantastic first half performance. A second half performance to forget.

Team Sheet : Coby, EthanR, EthanT, Isaac, James, Lewis, Oliver, Rui, Stanley, Thomas

A cold one today, but a nice day to be watching football, home at Deanery Hill. Everyone was a little tentative for this game owing to our previous encounter with Wilvale, but the Iguanas looked up for it.

Oliver, James, EthanR, Rui, EthanT, Stanley and Lewis got the game under way, but immediately were put under pressure by a pressing Wilvale. A couple of early corners were nicely dealt with, with good work from EthanR and Oli in goal.

The Iguanas pushed back, and started to get into the game a little with nice defensive work from James, and EthanT and Lewis combining well to push for goal but unable to dig the ball out for a shot.

Then after around 5-10mins the worst happened – Wilvale lofted a ball into the box, and despite watching its travel, the hand our goalkeeper got to the ball (with no Wilvale players anywhere near) only managed to spin the ball into the net. An unusual error and not really with the run of play, but a goal nonetheless.

The Iguanas were under pressure again straight from kick off, but EthanR was showing great awareness, despite not having played for a couple of weeks, marshalling the ball out and watching Wilvale players like a hawk. A neat break from EthanR at the back, through to EthanT and on to Lewis saw the one-on-one shot go wide, but it showed good intent from the Iguanas.

Wilvale pushed again and Oli came out to meet an open attack, clattering into a Wilvale attacker to prevent a further goal. Stanley then took a breather with Thomas coming on to take the play down the right wing.

This spell of the game was good to watch (at least for neutrals!), with some good passing by both teams, and play being pretty even. Lewis, EthanT and Thomas were hooking up well, and looking dangerous in attack. EthanR and James were building in confidence in defence. The Iguanas were turning up the tempo a little and looking like they were getting the upper hand.

Stanley came on for Rui, and James made way for Isaac, all the players feeling the pace of the game. But the Iguanas were getting stronger, a nice shot by Thomas being saved by the Wilvale keeper, and Lewis just putting the ball over the bar.

A further break led to a corner for the Iguanas. They were well set in the opposition box, and a lovely corner from Lewis was met with a header/shoulder/back combo from Isaac and was in the net. The efforts were paying off. Even stevens.

Coby came on to give EthanR a well-earned break and was straight into the defensive action as Wilvale tried to ease the pressure on their own half. But they were finding it difficult as the Iguanas kept pushing forwards, and were being calm in defence, tackling well, collecting balls and releasing the ball well in all areas of the pitch.

Wilvale were now having to resort to longer range shots, none of which were causing any major issues, as any attempts to work the ball through were being dealt with firmly by Isaac and Coby.

Coby then needed to be replaced by EthanR, following what looked like a foot injury/problem, and still the Iguanas pushed. Lewis and EthanT joined forces once more, EthanT’s shot being saved by the keeper…but all he could do was parry the ball out to his left, where Thomas was waiting and unleashed a sweet shot that the keeper had no chance with.

On balance, this half was the Iguanas’, and a much stronger performance than the last time out against Wilvale.

Half time.

Oliver, EthanR, James, Rui, Lewis, Stanley and EthanT got matters under way again in the second half. Wilvale tried to break, but James was quick in defence, and showed great calmness to hold the ball and playing a beauty of a through ball to Lewis.

Lewis showed equal calmness, this time taking the ball round the keeper, and whilst it looked like he may have gone too far from the side-lines, he slotted the ball home superbly.

For a brief moment it looked like the Iguanas might be able to capitalise on their lead, and then Wilvale broke quickly after the restart. They broke our defensive line and a good shot, from a nicely delivered cross beat Oli to his right, going in tightly at the post leaving him no chance.

The ball was lost quickly from the restart again, and Wilvale were really pushing hard now. Another long ball saw no one in the Iguanas team being especially alert and picking it up, with no communication between the players. The result being the ball was in the back of the net once more. Even again, and the Iguanas were starting to look a little disorganised somehow.

Again, Wilvale pushed. EthanR and Rui were battling in the final third of the pitch, but it was proving tough going now. Moves that were all coming off in the first half weren’t finding Iguanas’ players, first touches across the team weren’t being made/going our way, and Wilvale, in contrast, had found some extra accuracy and strength compared to the first half. Another Wilvale break led to another decent shot that slipped under Oli to his left. Behind for the first time in a while in this game.

Thomas came on to give Stanley a break, and James also came on for Isaac. The Iguanas settled now for a few minutes, Oli collecting the ball with more confidence, and some nice passing through the team. But Wilvale were also looking significantly stronger still, and importantly were far more organised in defence. They were now keeping a sweeper in reserve at the rear, and it was working well for them, with the Iguanas unable to find a route through.

The efforts of trying to break whilst also keeping Wilvale at bay were starting to show, and a sloppy pass under no pressure gave Wilvale another chance to break. They were through on goal in numbers and finished nicely past Oli.

The Iguanas weren’t totally out of the game, and did manage some more breaks. The Wilvale keeper needed to be alert to prevent Lewis being through on goal from a nice pass from Thomas. Passes also seemed to be getting back to some form of accuracy, but Wilvale seemed to be able to anticipate our moves, resulting in a need for good tracking back from Thomas and nice defensive work from EthanR.

Then another break from Wilvale. Whilst they were pushed out wide nicely, there was a total mix-up from the high cross with zero communication between the Iguanas in defence. The ball bounced, the Iguanas got in each other’s way and the ball was in the goal once more.

The Iguanas had a half chance to pull one back from the restart, Thomas skimming the crossbar from out wide and EthanT’s follow up going over. But equally neither were Wilvale finished for the day. They broke once more and another cross from the left was saved by Oli, but he couldn’t get up in time for the follow up and Wilvale were ruthless.

The full-time whistle blew shortly afterwards, possibly to the relief of the Iguanas players.

A game very much of two halves today. The Iguanas played as well as they have done all season in the first half. They were on the ball quickly, their passing was quick and accurate, they were communicating well and they were the stronger side, on balance, at the end of the half. The score-line could, and possibly should, have been worse for Wilvale.

The second half started quickly, but ultimately the team played as poorly as they have all season in this half. Communication stopped, we were rushed on the ball, giving it away needlessly, first touches were poor and our tackling wasn’t a patch on the first half. Wilvale, to their credit, stepped up a gear in the second half, especially defensively. But the Iguanas were unrecognisable from the first half.

The team should focus on the first half and the many positives from that. Had we been able to maintain that standard, there is no way they would have been on the losing side today.

Iguana of the Match : James – a good day in defence with some decent tackling and great awareness today. Lovely pass to set up one of the Iguanas’ goals.

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Match details

Match date

Sun 30, Jan 2022