Tadley Calleva 12s vs Andover Town Youth Blue 12s

The boys travelled to Popley for this rearranged fixture, due to Tadleys home pitch being water logged for much of the year. The Blues arrived early to try out the 3G pitch, this was the first occasion Town had played a competitive match on this type of surface. The pitch was also full size, which was great opportunity to see how the guys deal with additional space. Next year they move to the full size pitch, but with 11 players not 9.

The 2nd place in the league was at stake for this clash. Town started slowly, given away possession and allowing Tadley to dictate play. Tadley were exploiting the extra space well and looked to knock the ball over the top and turn the defence. This tactic produced the first goal, a simple ball from midfield, the Tadley forward was first to react and buried the shot. Leaving Daniel Butt in the Town goal, no chance.

The whole Blues Team were aware that the level of effort wasn’t what was expected, they seemed uncertain and not able to let their football flow. After some honest and forthright advise from the management team, the boys stepped up and started to compete. The midfield, started to battle and the defence followed suit, the front line ran their socks off. For the rest of the half, Town were on top, without producing many clear chances.

As the second half started, the coaching staff had asked for more of the same. The boys went at it with massive commitment, using the space and battling for every challenge. As the pressure increased, it looked only a matter of time before Town equalised. There hasn’t been a time when the boys have had to dig so deep and get no rewards. Today was that day, with 10 minutes to go, Tadley took advantage of Town over committing and scored their second.

The Blues continued to battle to the end, but it wasn’t to be. Tadley played the situation better than Town, sometimes it’s also not your day and the level of effort displayed should have produced an end product. Town will not use the pitch or any other thing as an excuse, it will need to be put down to experience and experience learned will only help in the future. Sometimes, you can’t just play good passing football, sometimes, you have to play direct and adjust to the situation.

To conclude, the management team and parents alike were privileged and proud, to see a fighting display from an amazing set of players. I haven’t mentioned individuals today, as the team showed a fighting spirit and determination that outweighed a singular performance. Having said that the parents choice for sportsman today was Jack Herdman and man of the match was Callum Woods, the two pocket rockets lead by example again today. Both started the battling against some big lads, not that that bothers them. It was a loss, but when you lose and leave everything on the pitch, you can hold yours heads high! We move to the next game. JP

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