Falcons are yet to start the season with a win on opening day, and will have to wait until our final season next year if we are going to manage it after a frustrating morning in Woking against Meadow Sports. There was an incredible sense of Déjà-vu around this game, last time we played at Loop Road on the 12th January, we had the better of the chances and found ourselves on the end of a 1-0 defeat and history repeated itself again.
Tactically we used the 4-3-3 we’ve been working on in pre-season. Pushing our wingers much higher up the pitch and we had a lot of joy pressing higher against the Meadow defence. We’ve signed 5 new players to the squad and we were able to give 4 of them their debuts, Reece and Harry slotting into the defence, and James and Freddie giving us midfield and attacking options.
Meadow started very strongly and for a good part of the opening 10 minutes it felt like they dominated possession, but once we settled down we started to create the better chances. Louie struck wide after a ball over the top from Josh. Bentley had a good chance when his pace took him into the box but his finish was agonisingly wide of the post. The most clear cut opportunity came when a good ball in from Josh on the right saw Matt head the ball round the keeper only for the keeper to take him out and the ref pointed to the spot. Josh stepped up; he had never missed a penalty in a league game, scoring his last 3, but unfortunately that 100% record didn’t last as the penalty went wide. Louie had another chance with a header but couldn’t direct it on target, and the teams finished the half locked together at 0-0.
One feature of playing 45 minute halves is we now get 15 minute half times, which meant once the team talk was done, we actually had quite a bit of time before the game restarted. We talked about being more clinical and taking our chances but much of the focus was about keeping up the good things we were already doing.
We had as many chance in the 2nd half, Cam had a long range effort cannon of the bar when it looked for a split second like it might drop in. Freddie played a good ball to Jeremi who couldn’t direct his shot on target from a wide angle. Dan had a chance, stealing in at the far post, but Meadow defended for their lives to keep it out. James then went on a great run, bursting into the box, sliding a shot on goal but it just clipped the outside of the post and out for a goal kick. After all those chances there was that nagging feeling it might not be our day, and so it proved with 10 minutes remaining Meadow slotted home a loose ball in the box to snatch all 3 points.
Despite the result it was a performance to be proud of, and if we can build on that and improve the goals and the wins will come soon enough. I really felt for the guys, they deserved more than they got and I try to shake off defeats quickly but this one hung around in the back of my head for a bit longer. Some good shouts for Man of the Match, Elliot was excellent both on the right wing and filling at left back, Reece slotted very comfortably into our back four and dominated the opposition striker. James was the player who took the award, his energy and drive from both midfield and right back were outstanding and he was so close to a debut goal as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the team try again next week at home against Crookham.