ROBIN HOOD ATHLETIC 3 HARTSHEAD 1
By Matt Wright
Happy new year and welcome to 2018 from all at Robin Hood Athletic, today we welcomed Hartshead to the coach ground for our first fixture of 2018.
In the reverse fixture, Hartshead in their first game in the West Yorkshire Premier on the opening day triumphed 2-0. In all honesty that day, we were well off the pace and the lads were given my views in no uncertain terms and I fully stand by them. We have made some steady progress over the last 3 month and if we continue with the same appetite to learn, improve and develop as footballers we will reach our targets.
With the reserve teams game postponed due to the weather, it allowed me to strengthen the squad with Temps coming in as well as David Ledger. My words were brief but start the game as we finished 2017.
After a positive opening 5 minutes where we were faced with a team who matched us up system wise, we exploited the areas they left exposed. All our good play was built from some good 1 and 2 touch football with dynamic running off the ball. Due to the very windy conditions, we struggled to get any distance with our transition which gave them a solid base to attack in our half. After 20 minutes and the first real chance of note, Lee Wood was forced into a very alert save, tipping the long range effort over the bar. In truth the first half was a case of running the Christmas food and drink off as we struggled to play at our usual tempo on and off the ball. The positives were that we defended our the set pieces well, the players taking their jobs into consideration and acting to benefit the team. The defence and woody have to mentioned in the first half as they were top draw, information, application, concentration but most of all taking a pride in defending. Just before the half we got possession back in our half and a nice exchange from Ligger and Widgey resulted in Corey bearing down on goal, the end result was a fantastic finish from a young lad full of confidence. 1-0.
We entered the changing room at half time understanding the conditions with a strong wing into the face, and a sluggish comeback after 4 weeks of no football…but we were 1-0 up. Nothing to be negative about, we just need to learn when it’s not going our way we must come together as a squad. 2nd half I expected a little bit more as we had now got some match football into our legs.
Early in the second half we experienced the loss of Danny Bridges, who pulled up through an hamstring strain. January is no time to try and play through hamstring troubles so we replaced him with Temps who had the instruction of settling down the midfield releasing Widgey and Declan to push a little bit further forward. We created a few half chances where in truth I would expect us to trouble the keeper a little bit more, but again we were at the right end of the field. The best of them were was a ball across the 6 yard box a little too high to deal with by our forwards, a little more care and we score. Our defence again were doing a fine job for the team giving us that natural assurance needed at the back with temps becoming a towering presence. Hartshead never gave up and got the goal in what was unfortunate circumstances, a shot through bodies was stopped by woody who couldn’t hold the ball and it was tapped home by the forward to our disappointment.
Joey replaced Chris Brown who pulled up through injury to his calf, again a strain but the last thing we needed was to lose a player long term when we had the returning talent of Joey Ritson chomping at the bit. Browny who seems to get better and better each week is now adding flair to his game with a last ditch tackle timed to perfection, which was followed by a scoop over the midfielder before he remembered he was not that player… a big hoof then brought us back to normality. Normal service was resumed as we doubled our lead through an absolutely first class cross from James Finlayson, narrowly missed by Paul Mitchel who was the furthest man forward only to be turned in by the Hartshead player. It was unavoidable due to the quality in the cross.
From this point Hartshead went even more direct in search of the equaliser, we stood firm and rebuffed any attack keeping our shape and discipline. After another spell of prolonged possession Jamie Lister broke through on goal, unselfishly passing the ball to the dynamic Declan Parker who fired home into an empty goal. Great awareness shown by ligger as ever with a solid finish to make it 3-1. Late on Hartshead had an opportunity to make it 3-2, a blocked shot from Harold the helicopter resulted in a red card which was quite harsh as in my opinion was a natural running motion. Woody saved well a powerfully hit penalty that kept the score 3-1. Spencer replaced Ligger to again maintain a solid base as he made some good clearances as we saw out the game to get the 3 points
Not the most eye catching performances, with many off colour in terms of composure on the ball but we were well deserving of the victory. We did enough and 3 points in any which way you look at it after the Christmas lay off the priority.
Whilst the performances weren’t on point the running, effort and energy put into gaining this result was second to none. The 3 points was a great reward for great efforts. May positives today though with the return of Joey Ritson, Ligger and bridges playing through illness and a fantastic performance from our rear guard. Man of the match was a close one but Corey just piped Lewis.
Next up for Robin Hood is a trip to Pool with the hope this great run of form can continue.