A disappointing result and match for the Sharks, who lost to a good Barnes Eagles side. Although they got the score to 2-2 after going 2-0 down, they never really got going properly and were eventually well beaten by an Eagles team who just seemed to want it more. A bad day at the office as they say.
A disruption in the preparation with Alejandro calling in sick meant a change of plans and the Sharks lined up with two at the back and a three-man midfield. Martin came in for Alejandro and Phin took his usual left back role so things should have been solid enough.
With Ben taking a central midfield role, Wiktor and Jakub wide and Nile up front, they seemed to start well enough, winning tackles and moving the ball forward quite well. But the Eagles scored quite early, slightly against the run of play as the Sharks tried to pass the ball around. A loose ball fell to the Eagles who shifted it wide, and although Rory came out well, the striker rounded him confidently and shot home from an acute angle. A well-taken goal, but a frustrating one to concede for the Sharks.
There was another set back as Martin was injured in a clash and had to go off. Gabriel came in at right back, but could do nothing to prevent a second from the Eagles when a fierce shot was well parried by Rory, but bounced straight to an Eagles player who poked it in.
At this stage 2-0 seemed a bit harsh on the balance of play. The Sharks were moving the ball forward well enough and looked solid in midfield with Ben growing into his central midfield role, picking up the ball and feeding Wiktor, Jakub and Nile to good effect.
The Eagles were defending well though and we couldn’t make our good play count. There were half chances for Nile, Jakub and Ben and a round of corners that wouldn’t quite fall to a Shark in the right area.
Eventually a deserved goal did come – when Nile and Jakub combined well from a corner. Jakub crossed dangerously and Wiktor got on the end of it brilliantly to volley home.
It was a good game now – with both sides playing some good football and creating chances. Rory had to save several times with good hands and there was some great last-ditch defending from Ben, Gabriel, Phin and Jakub.
At the other end, the Sharks were creating their own problems and another goal seemed on the cards. We thought it had come when Ben picked up the ball in midfield, ran forward and fed Jakub with a great pass to the left. Jakub’s good run took him past the defender and to the goal line where he checked, turned back onto his right foot and crossed for Wiktor to slot home again with a good volley.
Unfortunately the ball had just run out of touch before Jakub has crossed it, so the goal was chalked off.
Half time came and the Sharks were right in the match. But even at this point a few heads were dropping a little and there were a few wobbly bottom lips.
But the second half started well for the Sharks, with Francis coming into the middle for Ben and creating some havoc in the Eagles defence. The equalizer came quickly as Francis fed Wiktor on the left and he evaded his man before shooting well from a narrow angle into the net. 2-2 and it seemed the Sharks were right back in it.
But it suddenly went wrong from that point on. Almost immediately, the Sharks gave the ball away again in the midfield and the Eagles broke quickly and scored a third. Heads really did seem to drop then. Jakub went in goal for Rory, Ben came onto the left wing for Wiktor, but thr Sharks never really got going again the rest of the match.
The Eagles just seemed to want the ball more and showed more determination. They scored another three goals – one after another loose ball was given away in the midfield and two more following good saves from Jakub that fell kindly for Eagles players to tap in.
It was disappointing to see the Sharks collapse so badly and to be outfought by the opposition. I think there is a lack of confidence right now; the boys need a good win to boost their morale. But they will learn from their mistakes of giving the ball away carelessly and not defending well enough.
They’ve got a friendly this Saturday against Manorcroft, where they have played some great football this season in previous friendlies. [Although it could well be a tougher game than those, since Manorcroft may well have some of their first choice players available with no league games scheduled this weekend.]
After that it’s a chance to even the score up against Barnes Eagles with the return fixture at Imber Court. They are a good side, but the Sharks have nothing to fear really – and if they play their game well and with the right level of determination, I think they could well win that one.
Thanks as usual to Kasia for the great pics.