Pinewood Predators 2-1 AFC Reading Falcons (Great Hollands Recreation Ground)
[League – game 18 of 21]
This game had much in common with our draw with Reading City the previous week, both teams were defensively sound and it was a game of very few chances, which was won by the finest of margins. Pinewood had quite a rocky start to the season, from their first 6 matches they had lost 5 and drawn 1. Since then they have won 10 and lost only 4, and with a game against Sandhurst set for an appeal because their opponents fielded an ineligible player it looks like they will finish in a good position and gain an additional 3 points from that. It’s fair to say we could read little from our earlier game that we won 3-0 back in October.
Tactically we used the 4-4-1-1 which has suited us well this season providing we can give our lone striker the service he needs. In this aspect our opponents managed the game well, their defensive line was strong and on a short pitch there was very little space to run in behind. That said, in the first half of the game we played some of the best football the teams ever has done. The first goal itself was a lovely passing move involving Josh.S, Osamah, and then Jeremi who made the final pass and laid the ball off to Josh.R who finished well from the top of the box down into the corner of the goal. It was great passing football and a lovely finish to cap it off. The even nature of the game meant that it was enough to see us into half time with a 1-0 lead.
In the 2nd half our opponents made some tactical switches and pressed their attacking player’s right up against us in an effort to get back into the game, they only had to wait 2 minutes to get their reward for the switch. A ball down their left got their winger away into space and he finished well to the level the game. There weren’t many other chances of note in the game until a long range effort game in with about 10 minutes to play gave Pinewood the lead, a cracking strike deserving to win a game. Falcons still had a final throw of the dice, for one of the few times in the game the ball fell to Osamah and with a chance to grab a point in the final minute the Pinewood keeper made a terrific save to deny him. We then had 2 corners that everyone went up for including Jacob, with 22 players in one penalty area it was always going to be a lottery. Sadly we were unable to get a connection on either of the corners, and the game finished in a 2-1 defeat.
Jeremi took the Man of the Match award, he used the ball well when given the opportunity and played a nice pass to Josh.R to setup the goal. The team have really improved with their ability to pass the ball and pick each other out, and it’s pleasing to see that aspect of their game coming out. Looking back on the game it feels to me like one thing that has benefitted Falcons is that we started the season with a very settled team, I remember when we played Pinewood the first time the manager saying they had lots of new players and he has clearly worked out his team now and the improvement was evident. Just 3 games remaining now, Henley next Saturday and then a 4 week break to the final 2 games against Curley Park to finish the season.