Men’s 1s started the 8th league games of the season looking to defend their unbeaten record at home. After Jonathan got some specialised 1 on 1 training on defending shots going directly through your legs, a full changing room listened to captain Conor’s tactics session. More surprising than the whole team being, mostly, on time was the selection of a new formation featuring a role called substitute. Apparently, this role is relatively standard in the game and is used to maximise intensity by giving players small rest periods during the game, a risky strategy.
This focus on intensity lead to the game starting with Westleigh pressing hard for the first 20 minutes. Chances were not plentiful but the midfield consistently hitting the baseline and snaffling any attempts by Mansfield to escape their half. Without any clear chances it took something unusual to score the first goal. Somehow the ball broke to Damon behind their defence, who from near the baseline, and way more than his usual 2 yards, managed to slot a goal past their advancing keeper from a narrowing angle. This goal didn’t stop the pressure as a second soon followed. This time a ball hit across the D was touched by Damon from behind his back for another long distance, 10 yard, shot.
Unfortunately, that was the end of the dominance, Mansfield took to the sky as aerials was the only way to break Westliegh midfield dominance. Two quick fire goals from the Mansfield right cutting through the defence who dived in too quickly allowing a skilful player his choice of pass or shot to score. Their third just before half time came from a short. Both Jonathan and Chris got touches on it but falling between them. Mansfield reacted quickest to touch it in.
Half time, and a rousing speech by Conor again focusing on intensity, something we had lost in the last 15 minutes of the first half. We didn’t start with it though as Mansfield broke again down their right-hand side. The pregame training worked out as Jonathan came out and managed to stop the ball going straight between his legs but was unlucky in it bouncing to their only player in the d to touch it in.
Here Westleigh woke up not wanting to risk fortress martyrs record. Some would say that goals three and four where the most memorable of the game but not I as I have 0 recollection of them. Suffice to say the last 15 was all Westleigh. Going back to basics of passing and hitting the baseline Westleigh dominated.
The game finished with a flurry of cards from the excellent Tills and Martin. One for each team at different points during the final 5 gave a grandstand finish but no additional goals left the game finishing 4-4. Food at the Hoskins was as usual stunning and great to see a couple more players attending.
Next week a 1330 against Loughborough students which always is a tough game. Training Tuesday for the usual fantastic session