Team Yardley Men’s 1st Team
Opponent Harborne 4
Date March 7, 2020
Result Loss
Score 2 – 3

Goal scorers: Noor Zaman and Alex Makepeace

Yardley were missing three of their core players in this game. With the regular keeper, central defender and central midfielder absent. With the regular spine of the team severely depleted the Captain Alex expertly shuffled a few players around in his squad and set to making his team shape strong.

The game began very evenly with both teams trying to control midfield. In these early exchanges the home team was slightly getting the better of the possession but not getting into any dangerous areas. Jack’s debut in goal for the first team in league hockey was progressive and he grew in confidence with his first few clearances, getting the ball wide, out of danger. The home team appeared to be hitting the ball hard into the D looking for slight deflections towards goal. The Yardley team defended these attempts comfortably marking all the loose forwards, thus stopping any accurate flick to goal. Yardley were therefore winning a lot of 16’s. Yardley took these all as short interlinking passes. Ed the central defender talked to his defence and midfield before the game and insisted the 16s will be short passes, linking defence to midfield via short ball passes. This tactic worked for long periods but eventually the home team pressed higher, making the passes tight. But to Yardley’s credit the interlinking passing was accurate and all players were looking for space to be a short pass option.

The home team started to get more possession in the middle, as the first half wore on and Jack was called into to make some solid saves. The visitors never tested the home keeper, but did get into dangerous areas but the shots from wide angles hit the side netting. Yardley also got good crosses into the D but unfortunately the Harborne defenders snubbed out every one of them.

With five minutes in the half to go a Harborne striker collected the ball at the top of the D and fired a rocket shot at goal, Jack tipped it onto the crossbar, but unfortunately it rebounded onto his helmet and dropped into goal. Going into halftime, one-goal deficit.

Second half Yardley started the brighter if the two teams. Passing the ball around midfield, getting every player involved. The link up play from defence to midfield up to attacking areas was speedy and fluid. Stringing ten passes together in the middle of the pitch not to common occurrence against a top four team. This pressure on the ball soon lead to an early equaliser in the second half. Zach passed the ball to Jordan who slipped the ball to Noor just in front of goal. Noor calmly controlled the ball to lift it over the keepers diving body into the far corner.

The home team came back strongly gradually regaining their momentum. Yardley began to defend deep as Harborne pressed for a winner (promotion still to play for). Yardley were defending these assaults for long periods, again marking all the attacking players. Defence and midfield cleared the lines time and time again but the pressure was mounting. In between the attacks Yardley managed a few counterattacks which took pressure off the defence for a few moments. These long balls/ aerials found Noor or Jordan who both controlled the ball skilfully turning the first markers. Unfortunately, support was still deep in defence so they had to try to go it alone. Some shots on goal materialised but were saved.

The home team soon got a second, again pinging the ball into the D looking for a deflection. All the defence had pushed out but a lone striker stayed behind unmarked and as all the defence looked behind expecting the ball to roll out for a 16, it fell to the forward to turn onto the keeper, slotting it home. Not long after the retake an incensed Alex tackled an opponent on the half way line then ran to goal. He got passed three defenders and once in the D he drifted left slightly to get an angle and fired a thunderbolt beating a player on the line and keeper too. Score 2-2.

This gave the visitors a boost and everyone on the pitch worked harder to get a result. Noor started tackling players in his own half, Jahed was causing problems on their right. The whole team was lifted, but with no substitutes the tired legs syndrome began to take effect on certain players. They tried as much as they could to cover the pitch but fatigue set in. Yardley again had to defend deep in the final five minutes. But with over an hour’s play of high-quality hockey, at high tempo the team struggled to clear the lines as a 16 man continually rotating squad remained fresh ready to drive at goal. Unfortunately, with the visitors looking to hold out the final five minutes, all players dropped deep and did defend for long periods but the pressure built up and the Harborne winner eventually came. Another competitive game from Yardley against another top five team. As one of the umpires mentioned to our Captain at the end “our team performance doesn’t portray our league position.”


Categories: Match Reports