Whites Bs players arrived impressively early for this one, feeling like the early season was in the balance. 2 wins, 2 disappointing losses (for different reasons) so far. A sense that a win was absolutely necessary right here to set up the season, and also help generate the winning feeling across the club.
Structure across the back the same as the starting defence against the Westies. Justin Kanga back on the wing (having been missed the week before), Jidan in for an absent George Tan and Long up top the only other major changes. And this structure paid dividends once again with the Whites pretty much on top for the first half, although not quite as slick from the back as the Eagles pushed men high. The only real threat by the Eagles though was from the long ball, with the keeper possessing a booming kick, which continually sent the ball sailing over Kirsten and Superman at the back, and caused them to have to adjust their defensive line. But other than that things were kept pretty much air tight.
As the half went on the Whites began to run rampant through the midfield, and Long was doing his work well up top, holding up for the midfielders coming through and causing all sorts of problems. The only complaint coming from the back was “take a shot guys, stop faffing around with it”. Then out of nowehere – almost as if in response – Titus scored two absolute screamers from outside the box, almost carbon copy in terms of positioning (and in fact about the same spot he hit his first for the club – does he only score from distance?). The best came from from a run, where he beat two players and seemingly off balance hit the ball at an angle that for all money should have skewed off his boot, but somehow stayed true and swerved past the keepers outstretched dive. Two absolutely first class goals, watched from the perfect angle by this correspondent.
Not to be beaten, however, a few minutes later Jidan scored an even more spectacular goal. When Kev had said he had freedom to shoot from where ever he wanted, Im not sure he even meant from about 5 meters in front of half way with the keeper not far off his line. But from the moment he hit it it never looked like missing, and sailed over the keeper into the net. I’d have paid to see that one
The last ten or fifteen minutes saw the Eagles push up the urgency, and Titus dropped back to sit at defensive mid while last week’s man of the match Alan – who had been dispossessed a couple of times at the back – pushed to number 10 to get a little more freedom. This gave the Whites a better balance and they saw the half through.
3-0 at half time and surely this time they could afford to feel confident.
2nd half, safety first and no immediate changes as the Whites continued to grind out the result. As the half went on though the Eagles really lost structure and the Whites dominated again.
Juan took a knock and Paul K came on to replace him, Amir came on the left wing to replace Mirshat who had worked hard all game and is beginning to take better options and not always rely on his pace and trickery, while Harry’s introduction allowed Superman to push up top once again. This eventually paid dividends when Harry’s free kick lofted into the box skewed off an Eagles defender’s shin and fell straight to Superman on the penalty spot – and with John George looking on, he did his best to emulate the master’s ice-cold vein finishing, and sent the ball into the bottom corner of the net. For a moment the referee seemed to agree with the linesman’s offside call (the seemingly clueless linesman whose flag went up any time the ball went past the defensive line!) but fortunately he agreed with Superman’s pleading: he was not offside because the ball had been played to him by a defender. thank you sir.
Having said that, the ref then made what most saw as an inexplicable call as Superman beat two players in the box, before having his foot trodden on by the second. Clear penalty, surely sir? Apparently not, said the ref who claimed that the man of steel had been anything but and gone down way too easily. Come on! the only good news being that there was no yellow card for simulation.
By now the Eagles midfield was ragged and the Whites surged again and again without being able to find another goal, perhaps a little too impatient at times, and unable to take full advantage. A couple of great runs by Justin saw crosses go across the goal when a diagonal cut back was probably in order, while Amir caused all sorts of problems for their right defence without being able to find that killer pass.
While this was probably the only minor down side re the end result (it could have easily been 6 or 8 or 10 nil), the most pleasing fact is that the Whites did not concede – the first time in the league this season. Well done to all of those who kept the ship tight at the back. Also importantly, none of the sub changes unbalanced the side, and all those who came on added value to the overall result. Excellent work
Titus once again man of the match, pretty much, but also a shout out to Jidan who looks to enjoy having a little bit more time on the ball in the Bs and had a big grin on his face all though the game.
As Matt Bate put it: Glamour restored!