After the squads most recent trip to Nottingham to play in the second round of our league fixtures I think its fair to say that despite the fact results did not go the way we would have liked this weekend was important as it gave us more time to integrate the style we want to use with our squad. Additionally, illustrating valuable lessons we need to take note of, grow from and move forward with for the rest of the season and beyond.
Coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Aspire a week prior in the cup left the team disappointed but excited as we knew if we could get off to a strong start and impose ourselves early like we did in the aspire game we would put ourselves in a great position to pick up points throughout the weekend and move up the table. Our weekend started off with an early kick off against Northern thunder a great team who always make a good title charge. Offensively we did not truly get going in this game whilst our defence was caught out resulting in us going into halftime 3-0 down and ending the game with a 4-0 loss However this was not the time to be down to dwell and fall apart as we had two more games in the day we had to prepare for. In our second game we played St George’s knights a team well respected around the league for their stern defensive displays and how they manage games. The team had a much better flow to our play and broke the deadlock with a free kick which was passed with pace to split the defenders and Myles slotted it home. We saw out that game with other good attacking phases of play, securing the 3 points was big for the squad especially against a team which was near us in the table even if it is at this early stage of the season. Our last game of the day was Teeside, a newly promoted team built up of experienced players. The team were able to start the game strong and craft chances together threatening their goal however could not put it in the back of the net. The feeling at half-time was happy in terms of chance creation but there was a clear emphasis on being critical in-front of goal in the next half. After a mental error we found ourselves 1-0 down with under 10 minutes on the clock. A disappointing result as the final whistle blew with the score staying 1-0 despite the team battling and creating chances until the end to try and get some points from the encounter.
As Sunday morning came around the team seemed well rested and ready for a day where we faced up against 2 teams that played different styles of football whilst both were effective West Brom who we matched up against first is a team that loves to share the ball shifting defences as well as using sustained pressure in the final 3rd to break teams down to get their goals - they decided to set most of their attacking plays in motion once they got the ball to the corners of the pitch. There were phases of play where we were able to capitalise on good passing sequences to push up the field although it did not materialise into goals and we were not able to keep them out with the game ending 6-0 as mental errors, miscommunication mixed with West Brom’s passing being crisp lead to the team who one the league last time out pulling away with the 3 points.
The other team we faced, Villa Rockets, are a team known to be strong in a tackle, skilful on the ball and lead by a couple of players who have loads of experience in the game. The Oaks started the game strongly creating chances getting all players on the field involved in play and getting success from Villa’s goal kicks as we were able to retrieve the ball quickly resulting in us getting more opportunities to put the Villa defence under pressure, unfortunately before halftime another mental error crept in and was costly due to Villa getting a 1-0 lead just before the halftime break in play which some would say was against the run of play. The group at halftime were energised and adamant that we just had to keep the pressure up, move the ball and the chances would come for us to get back in the game. We did well to create chances to score although we were not able to convert them and take points from the game. This being said the attitude displayed and the way we moved the ball left us feeling like it was something positive to build on and that we may have deserved something more from the game. Even though the result wasn’t in our favour it can be said that the Villa game may have been the best game of the weekend in terms of imposing the way and style we wanted to play.
The season is still quite young and there are many more twists and turns to come to see how the league standings end up. The results may have not been what we would have dreamed of however there were encouraging signs that the team can build on the play from our last game to keep putting more points on the board and hopefully climb up the table. We certainly have the players, coaches and the community to do it and now we have until March to continue to put the hard work in and be ready for our next set of national fixtures. There are still exciting times ahead for the team once we reflect and grow from the weekend just past and learn from the stuff we did successfully as well as the amendments we can make to put ourselves in a position to have more successful outcomes. One thing is for certain it is always a pleasure playing in the Blue, Black and Gold.
Written by Kyle Alexander