Uni Whites 0 Pembroke 4
The C’s started off the season taking on Pembroke at home. They have always had strength in depth and it was going to be a challenge. In the end, the game came down to which team took its chances. In difficult, humid conditions, the first half was frenetic. The theme of the early exchanges was simple: neither team could get the ball down and stroke it around in midfield. For Pembroke, this is because they were content to have their sweeper or deepest lying midfielder spray long balls to the wings or into the channels. For the Whites, it was because we could hardly get the ball out of our defensive half off goal kicks. The visitors were restricted to long efforts on goal. The Whites were under pressure, but not oppressively so. The breakthrough for Pembroke came from an error. A ball from midfield into our left back was mis-controlled, the ball gifted to the winger who finished well.
What happened next was strange. A tactical change brought Jay on at left wing midway through the half. The Whites had just as many chances as Pembroke for the rest of the half, only better ones. Daniel and Jay both had efforts on goal that were on target, and had beaten the keeper that failed to go in. In both cases it was the lack of power that denied them a goal, with the ball being cleared off the line by a retreating defender as it rolled towards the net. There was a one on one between Manny and the keeper after their sweeper gave the ball away on the edge of the box. The keeper did well to narrow the angle, and the ball went 6 inches over the bar.
When your luck’s out it really is out, just before the break they scored again. A great finish from probably their most talented player, but the pressure on the ball in the box was less than ideal.
The second half followed much the same pattern. Matt had a very difficult game up front. He was double-teamed by a combination of a man mountain who dominated him in the air and their mobile sweeper who cut off the ground route.
The Pembroke keeper continued to be the luckiest man alive, I hope he bought a lotto ticket. There was another one on one, more of a half chance really. This time Manny closed him down, the keeper’s clearance cannoned off Manny and ran 6 yards wide for a corner. On another day it could have gone in.
The visitors scored 2 more in the second half and had a third chalked off for a rather dubious offside call (no ref again).The Whites failing to take all their chances led to the last 20 minutes being more of a procession than anything else. One only hopes we can learn a couple of things from this result. First that we need to find a plan B when the system isn’t working and second, we need to show more ruthlessness in front of goal going forward.