POOL AFC 2 ROBIN HOOD ATHLETIC 2
By Matt Wright
Pool AFC awaited us today in another fixture we are looking to gain maximum points in. The squad again had been shuffled around with the returning John Tunney, Dale Pickering and Chris Coupe. Dropping out today was young Harold the Helicopter due to his recent red card against Hartshead. Never the less this was possibly the strongest squad of the season and a squad I fully expect to be winning games.
The message was clear, Pool are in abit of trouble but with that comes an emotional swing where a goal against can kill confidence or a goal for can really rejuvenate a team.
We started the game well, we immediately put them on the back foot and established abit of possession in good areas but without a real threat at goal. Jamie Lister and James Finlayson started up from both in search of a goal to kick start 2018 for them, both were dynamic and showed for the ball to feet which really helped as an out ball. Defensively we were solid, Pool had at their disposal a huge forward who was the point of their attacks. Chris Brown, as ever was up for the challenge and really well marshalled him, limiting the threat posed by the Pool attacks. Body Language is a big thing for this group going forward, in our recent run of form our body language has been good as it creates that positive atmosphere that really drives results. It wasn’t long before we had opportunities, the vast majority of these came from our left hand side as Paul Mitchel was getting into some very good areas with only his first touch preventing us from converting. This though was a positive and great testament to Bulby who constantly gets into areas where causes problems. Corey wasn’t letting Bulby get all the glory though as he put a series of crosses into the box that really troubled the vocal home keeper.
It appeared like it was only a matter of time as we controlled the good areas of possession but Pool struck in what was quite fortunate circumstances. In maybe my bias opinion a real soft free kick was given against Browny who had used his feet superbly to get around the Forward, to meet the ball with the referee awarding a free kick for minimal contact. The Free kick struck the wall dropping to an unmarked wide man who put a ball into the box where John Tunney was adjudged to have fouled the Pool midfielder. The Pool Midfielder stepped up and fired home sending Lee Wood the wrong way, 0-1.
We speak about been positive and to the lads credit, as a group they are so resilient. Within a minute of conceding we had some possession down the left, Jamie Lister provided a ball for Corey who crossed a fantastic ball into an area where James Finlayson was on the spot to fire home 1-1. At Half time we went in on top and deserving more as we had a few chances from set pieces where should maybe have scored.
Half time was all about keeping the group calm and trusting the ability we possess, knowing the changes we could make later in the game were changes that would tilt the game in our favour. We needed to tidy up our possession and regain a certain degree of composure if we were going to go that extra yard and score goals. The final ball at times let us down, but on the whole a very positive first half and more of the same was required.
We went out for the second half and in truth were totally off the pace. The surface made the game really scrappy as it cut up quite badly, the home crowd/management really dragged down the atmosphere into what can be only described as a battle. This however is a good learning point for us as we can overcome these conditions and show that little bit of class we need to show to be at the other end of the table. Lewis, Joey and in particular Chris Brown defended well to stop shots and chances at our end. When they did get shots on target Lee Wood made 2 terrific saves to keep the scores level, woody really earning his corn and displaying an increased level of performance and game management this year.
We continued to be a threat at goal but only from set pieces, we seemed to have that appetite to score but couldn’t quite get over the line. Despite some difficult decisions made against us on the far side, we continued to defend but with a last gasp edge to it, rather than the controlled nature we usually command. It wasn’t long before we were punished as the Pool midfield cut inside and got a shot off at goal and wrong footed Woody in goal. 1-2 and in truth it was deserved.
Again our first thought these days isn’t about self-destructing, it’s about how to gain the advantage back. Chris Coupe was introduced for a tired Jamie Lister who had ran himself into the ground. Coupes brought some refreshed energy and some really tidy touches pulling the defence out of shape, and we forced a series of corners and free kicks. The equaliser came through a great ball from Declan Parker into the box which fell to Joey Ritson, who fired home like a seasoned forward..2-2.
Following this Declan then sprung into life with his set piece delivery, putting in some pin point balls that should have been converted. The best chance came from a free kick that was headed onto the post by Big Lewis Richardson, only to be pulled back for offside.
The game finished 2-2 and on reflection a very good first half was followed by a very poor second half. We went too long as it was the safe option and weren’t brave enough on the ball. On the flip side we required movement off the ball but we were far too static, resulting in these two factors going hand in hand. We have the ability to win these fixtures by 2,3 or even 4 goals, but we must learn to continue to stick to our principles and play how ive asked.
On the positive it’s another point, a point we maybe wouldn’t have taken when I first joined this club, that’s testament to the players and the mentality shift that is slowly improving.
After the results today it was a missed opportunity as we could have sat 7th now if we had have just pushed that little bit extra. The clubs shift in mentality though is clear to see, we are a progressive club and now we have a full complement of talent available throughout our club, I hope the hunger is there to finish as high as possible.
Chris Brown was immense today and seems to get better and better and rightfully won the Man of Match award. Woody, Lewis and Joey can be happy with their contribution as well. A lot of tired legs today as the squad worked hard.
Thanks for the travelling support to those who made the trip.