It was a grey overcast morning as Unsworth rolled up to the tough away fixture at Westbury. It was the first time in 2017, and its April, that the boys had had a run out on grass. Clearly Westbury had been listening in on our What’sApp group, as they had tried to cut a circular pattern into the turf.
With the teams once again back to five a side formation, Chris sent the team out with the “Gegenpressing” style of Jurgen Klopp backed up with good passing when in possession. Roan started as he finished training last night, but there was lot of early pressure from Westbury, forcing three good saves from Alfie in the opening five minutes. Keeping the high energy style of play Connor came on came on and maintained the high press, quickly robbing the centre half and shooting narrowly wide.
Unsworth began to get right into the game with Ben dictating the tempo and following great passing and possession football between Ben, Ruben and Connor, a killer cross had the Westbury defence in a panic with their defender almost clearing into his own net.
Moments later Oscar released Connor on goal, and he was chopped by the last defender. In a few years’ time that will be a straight red, but at this age group, it was just a free kick. Ruben’s long range effort was blocked by the defence and Ben’s follow up was rising as it cleared the bar.
With their tricky number seven under wraps, Unsworth began to exert control in the final 10 minutes in the first half, with first Ben denied and then Ruben’s excellent long range effort being saved well by the Westbury keeper. Ben was denied again later.
Westbury were always a threat and several times last ditch tackles from Ben and Oscar and a great save from Alfie kept the score goalless.
Then a minute from half time, Ben played a superb pass to Connor who broke clear of the defence, and with a calm finish placed Unsworth 1-0 in front. The parents failed to hide their delight. Almost from the kick off Connor played Roan through, but a little over excited he fired wide, meaning Unsworth went into the break with a slender 1-0 lead. It was a great half of football, that was so tense some of the parents thought it had been a stressful quarter.
Roan was again on his toes after the re-start and in a scramble in the penalty area he was denied by a good save. Moments later and Westbury were level, their number 7 on a jinking run and cool finish. Unsworth were up for the battle and almost straight from the kick off a great pass from Oscar sent Roan clear, he beat the keeper to it, megged him, but was denied by a brave tackle from the centre half who then required some treatment.
The game was becoming stretched and end to end, and in a melee in the Unsworth area, their right midfielder tried to back heel it from 2 yards out – when it would have been easier to slide it in. Fair play for trying to use skills, but it gave enough time for Alfie to scoop it up.
Almost immediately, Unsworth pressed moving the ball well, Ruben on the right pulled back an inviting ball to the penalty spot where Roan was waiting, and as he later described, he “dinked it” over the keeper into the top corner. It seemed to take an age to ripple the back of the net – but it saw good team play rewarded with the lead.
Roan was switched for Connor as Unsworth maintained the press, and Chris’s instructions to double up on 7 began to stifle Westbury’s primary outlet.
More pressure saw Ruben place an effort wide, followed by a superb one-two between Ruben and Connor. Moments later the hardworking Ben was brought down in the area, and the Referee rightly pointed to the spot. Ruben very calmly placed the ball in the bottom left hand corner, and in a 28 minute second half, Unsworth had a two goal cushion.
Not long later the game finished 3-1. It was a fantastic team performance, with Oscar so solid at the back and calm on the ball, Alfie so solid in nets keeping them at bay, and calm in his distribution, even when Nat screamed “kick it”, Ben worked so hard steam was coming out of his ears, and Ruben and Connor passed well and worked so hard, and Roan chipped in with his goal (excuse the pun) and hassling down the opposition from the top of the pitch.
There were six MotM today, against an excellent team, with both sides playing good football and in the correct way, and it was a pleasure to watch the ball played on the deck throughout.
Written By Alan Kemp