Well, a first League defeat of the season for the Sharks (almost half way through) but a highly entertaining, closely contested game. Just one goal separated the sides and given the run of the play in the second half a point would probably have been a fair result on the day. It wasn’t to be, but there were lots of positives for the boys to take away.
The game lived up to its top-of-the-table billing, with two very good passing teams, committed and determined, playing out an excellent spectacle in a fine spirit. Both teams played great football and defended magnificently and it was no surprise that a single goal won it in the end.
The Sharks had most of the opening few minutes, with Gabriel, Wiktor and Francis combining well, but Waddon had some big defenders and we just couldn’t make our attacks pay.
It was real energetic, end-to-end stuff with neither side giving anything and both defences holding firm. There was some great slick attacking moves form both sides, but it seemed nothing could break the deadlock. Their keeper was big and strong and made some good saves, matched by Rory who was strong and quick himself and got his body behind the ball well to gather on a few occasions.
It looked as though it would head into the break at 0-0, when Waddon got a corner. The ball sailed across our box and somehow reached an unmarked Waddon player at the far post. He controlled it and slotted it in to give them the lead.
Second half really belonged to the Sharks – we looked much more dangerous and as they rotated their team with lots of subs, our attacks started to look threatening. We created chances, but we just couldn’t seem to get a good sight on goal. A bit more luck and we could have had a couple of goals.
As the Sharks pushed for an equalizer, we left ourselves a bit short at the back, but as usual Alejandro, Martin and Phin equipped themselves magnificently.
We were really playing some superb football by now – arguably the best we’ve played all season. It was quick, intelligent passing and was a great credit to the boys – and to Craig.
As we came into the final few minutes Alejandro stepped forward more into midfield and we really started to exert some pressure.
With less than a minute left, Alejandro picked the ball up in midfield, brought it forward and slipped it to Ben on the left wing. Ben surged into the box, held off his marker and placed a shot towards the top corner, across the keeper. We all held our breath for a moment as the Waddon keeper dived to his left and just palmed the ball away. It fell to Francis on the penalty spot, but on his left foot. Under pressure he tried to guide it in quickly with a great effort, but it slipped agonizingly past the post, just inches wide.
That was it – time was up and the fight back hadn’t quite paid dividends. A draw would have been a fair result on the overall pattern of play. It was a great game played between two very good, evenly matched teams. It’s no surprise these two sides are ahead of the rest at the top of the table. Waddon were the best side we have played this season so far and we matched them in almost every way.
In the end, they were a bit bigger than us, and their physicality probably made the difference in terms of snuffing out our attacks. But we gave them a real run for their money.
The boys can be very proud of themselves. They lost very narrowly to the top of the table team. And we’ve got the home game to come against them in the New Year, so we can make amends then.
Meanwhile it’s away to Surrey Predators who are in third place and who we only just beat 1-0 a few weeks ago. But after last week’s performance I’m confident the boys can go and get a resounding result on Sunday and continue to play their passing football.
Bring on the Predators …