A Fine "Friendly" It Certainly Was...Bring on the MRL!!!
The final preparations for the forthcoming MRL and State Cup campaigns began in earnest on Saturday, April 6th for CFC Boys U15s with a friendly against State Champions and National finalists Team Challenger Crew Juniors Black (Concordia Royale). The game was played in glorious sunshine at Brunswick School and the boys produced what can only be described as a Sunshine performance.
We knew that this was to be a very stiff test for the boys as we were playing a team a year older and if that's not difficult enough, the current State champs and National finalists. I think it would be fair to say there was a little bit of trepidation as to what the outcome would be and whether it would be a bridge too far for the boys at this stage, despite the excellent progress this group has made. What followed in the ensuing 80 minutes was a performance that can only be described as outstanding. The boys showed a level of desire and perhaps more importantly a level of intelligence in their play beyond our current expectations.
The game started fairly evenly with not surprisingly Challenger seeing a little more of the ball, without really threatening our goal in the first 15 minutes or so. The boys held their defensive shape very well and denied what is obviously a very good team clear chances on goal. We broke up play well but were a little bit careless in possession of the ball and perhaps didn't take advantage of good opportunities to launch counter attacks as many times as we should have done, when we did, we looked very threatening with our speed on the break.
We began to come under pressure towards the end of the first half and it was a real pleasure to watch the boys dig in as if their lives depended on it. We blocked shots with everything and made clearances under pressure and showed a willingness to defend when under pressure and not concede, in addition we showed a maturity and intelligence to our defending which can only be exciting for our future games.
The game was 0-0 at half time much to the surprise I hink of many in the stadium including the CFC parents, after all I think many expected it to be a very difficult day for us. The boys at half time were determined to not let their standards drop and with a couple of minor tactical alterations were ready to take the game to Challenger.
This is exactly what the boys did. We showed a much greater level of composure in the transition and were able to launch much better counter attacks which enabled us to have a rest defensively and get higher up the field as a consequence. We deservedly made the breakthrough 17 minutes into the second half following great work down the left side by both Jared Anderson and Lucas Munroe after yet another piece of defensive midfield play from Antonio Burgoa and Tim Hoffman, the ball was eventually played to Jordan Shalala who placed an unstoppable shot high into the top right hand corner of the goal much to the delight of the contingent of screaming CFC moms, come on dads keep them under control!!!! We restricted Challenger to a handful of worthwhile efforts which were dealt with and of course we managed to ride a bit of luck on one or two occasions but no one could deny us that luck with the amount of work and intelligence we showed. We wrapped the game up with around 11 minutes to go after great work by Jared Anderson who showed the true value for a striker in chasing lost causes, with seemingly no chance to keep the ball in play Jared chased the ball down and stole it from the defender before advancing into the box and squaring the ball for the perfectly timed run of Lucas Munroe who calmly finished in the roof of the net, perhaps the most pleasing thing was that we had spoken at half time about the importance of the wide strikers becoming much narrower when the ball was on the opposite side of the field and getting into the box on the inside of the opposition full backs, this was the perfect example of why they need to, as my dad used to tell me every time I played..."there's 10 goals a season for you at the back post if you are prepared to get in there" it's true there is.
We managed to see the game out fairly comfortably in the end and in all honesty with more composure in our passing as we got tired we could have won by more. That said it was a performance of great pedigree and one that can only bode well for the future if the boys continue to work hard. I think because of the all around standard of the performance, it would be wrong to single players out individually as there were too many excellent performances and everyone made a positive contribution including our guys who came off the bench, however I must make one, our stand in goalkeeper Josh Ailiff, he was thrust into the goal at the 11th hour and produced an outstanding performance including a fantastically brave save towards the end when he collided with the upright.
Well done to everyone concerned, not least you boys who continue to improve, move on to the next game now, keep working hard and remember if you get the performance right the result usually takes care of itself.
Enjoy the rest of the season.