The first game spewed out of the fancy new ‘League Automatic Mechanism Erroneously Arranging Super Fixtures Ultra Computer (work it out) saw the 1st team head to Huddersfield to face the renamed Launds FC, who used to be Huddersfield YMCA, but for reasons way too dull to go into here, are not any more.
Huddersfield always reminds me of 2 things. The first, ‘There was a cow from Huddersfield who liked to have her udders field,’ is quite simply a great go-to dad joke. In the words of Ron Burgundy, if you think I am wrong I will fight you. The second is that awful red and black Gola away shirt Town had offa the 90’s that looked like static having a fight with cosmic radiation. Both make me smile, so I’ll admit to having a soft spot for trips to Huddersfield.
We hit the motorway in high spirits following an encouraging pre-season which included a new-found level of lots of good stuff and once there, we prepared well and revelled in the rarity of the 2 dressing rooms provided, donning the famous Mods Peru parachute kit and new, expensive feeling socks. The pitch was cut (gotta love a stripy pitch), the warm up was sharp, and all the pre match talk was of controlling our emotions to make the right decisions and how squads, rather than teams, win games.
I believe that usual match reports can give too much away. As someone who regularly scours social media and the internet for tips and tricks about how future opponents play, I’m not going to be talking about who played where, nor about our formation – if you know, you know – so instead I am going to pick out some stand outs and key moments that tell the story of the game.
As coaches all we can ask is that players listen and trust the plan. On Saturday we did both and the script unfolded largely as we all hoped. We dominated possession in the first half and Henry and Callum could only have had more space if the mayor had rocked up and presented them with a massive key and the freedom of the city.
We simply kept winning the ball back, we kept making nice little patterns and we created a few decent chances, with Mikey Hall notably marauding down the right flank, but we could definitely have moved the ball quicker than we did. The will was there and we had the better of things, with Waz putting the ball in the net but being pulled back for offside, Ross causing general mayhem for them and Clax and Zac looking dangerous from set pieces, but we had a couple of minor scares at the other end too which forced Gibbo into action on a couple of occasions – with one particularly good tip around a post as he was waiting to trudge of with his hamstring in a bag. It was a brave save on one leg and very much appreciated.
The natural replacement for Gibbo was Sam Girggs, who strode on to the field, donned the yellow shirt (which, with his physique weirdly made him look like a classic Subutteo keeper) and did a top job for the team for the best part of 65 minutes.
0-0 at half time and the need for patience was reiterated by all. Move the ball quicker, stay brave and it will come. All that running power gained on Tinsil top this summer would kick in, and that’s exactly what happened. Not too long after the break, now going up the hill, we put together a move down our right that looked for all the world like peak Barcelona, with several patient up back and throughs, lots of intelligent third man running and a bye line pull back from ‘that’ zone that we bang on so much about. Waz was in exactly the right place to finish it off and everyone immediately saw the value of training – we all looked at each other and had the same thought – this shit actually works!
We knew that having got our deserved lead we just had to keep on probing and more would come. I talk about finding something that works and repeating it, so the fact that 2 more of our goals came from crosses from exactly the same area (another for the poacher waz and one for a centre back facing his own goal (please forgive the smugness here – but it’s no secret that I bloody love these kind of goals) was really encouraging for everyone in the group. They came either side of another Claire Thunderbastard right into the top bins and we because now weren’t forcing it, we looked like scoring more. The pressing was off the scale, especially from Waz and Clax, and latterly from the beard who joined the fray with 30 to go. Imagine being tired and then having a fresh Adam Hamilton to deal with – good luck. Ross held the ball up brilliantly and brought others into the play, Clax stopped them getting out, Nathan and Callum were a cut above their midfield and Henry was our metronome, keeping us ticking and setting an example of calm proficiency on the ball. But for one lapse where a long ball wasn’t dealt with as well as it could have been and the resulting scramble allowing the hosts back into the game briefly, we defended really well, with Zac showing his class and getting more vital minutes under his belt (this was his first 90 minutes since coming back in to the group), Briggsy reading the game really well and both Charlie and Mikey slowing down their breaks well allowing us to get recovery runs from midfield to choke the space.
We played very well and we deserved the win. Our hosts said so as they congratulated us. I think we well and truly felt their udders.
A very good way to start the season. Man of the match was Waz, with 2 goals, a great assist and constant pressing like an angry wasp high on ritalin. I would hate to defend with Waz around and he’ll score a lot of goals this year playing like this.
On to next week. Let's do this again.
Now, who’s up for downing some bottles of Rose in the Klerb and snuggling up with Telf for the night to celebrate?