Town Hit By A Tornado

Another seven days passed just like that and again we had arrived at Match day. After Thatcham Harriers last week, things we hoped would be different. The opposition had changed slightly, from Harriers we moved to Tornadoes, but it was another Thatcham side standing in our way, notoriously a bogey side for Andover.

Training was focused on the continued work on stamina to help us last longer in matches, but we took some lessons from last weeks draw and worked on our possession, passing, first touch and movement. Lots to work on in two hours, but fingers crossed the boys could take this into the game.

Line up was solid at the back, with the impressive partnership of Owen, Daniel and Finlay sat in front of James, Jonty taking up the CDM role in the absence of George L who was sunning himself in Bulgaria, CM roles were given to George B and Harry, width provided by Charlie and Isaac and the front two of Joe and Alex. Salem was the only option on the bench, but with his versatility, we had options.

As the game kicked off, Andover were straight on the front foot. The pressure was all on Thatcham. Andover used the width and on the odd occasion looked down the middle, it was looking promising. The Thatcham Coach commented to me, this is not looking good for us!
I know Andy and I felt comfortable with the display for the first ten minutes, but all of a sudden everything changed.

Andover reverted to launching the ball forward and it started to go down the middle, exactly as the week before, the ball started to come straight back at Andover and now the pressure was on both sides.
The problem as we pointed out last week is, if the ball keeps coming back, it tires the boys out quicker, they find it harder to chase the ball, than to keep it and eventually it is likely that the pressure will eventually take its toll and lead to a goal for the opposition.

During this too and fro period, Andover did find the opening goal. A ball that had been carried down the right by Charlie, was cleared by the Thatcham defence. The ball landed with George B, who simply drove at the Thatcham defence and after appearing to have been driven wide, cut inside unchallenged and as the goalkeeper advanced, he kept his composure and rounded the keeper to slot home. 1-0 Andover, but it had taken such hard work to gain this advantage.

After the opening goal, Thatcham and Andover both looked to probe, but Andover had stopped doing the things that had seen them look so strong in the first 10 minutes. The width was no longer being used, the ball was not being retained, but the biggest problem was, the boys were tired and unable to chase back. Owen, Dan, Finlay and James needed to be at their best as the pressure was really building.
Unfortunately, that pressure was going to take its toll eventually and it did. Thatcham scored the equaliser and now the Thatcham coach said, Do you know what, maybe we can get something out of this game after all!

Halftime came, just when the boys were looking done, they trudged off looking deflated and tired already. It was time to see if we could turn this ship around. We reiterated the messages from training. We had to retain the ball better, we had to use the width, make our passes count and also ensure that we are stronger in the challenge.

Now for those that witnessed the next 30 minutes of football, I think you will agree, Andover just did not return to the pitch. The team that we know can play so well just seemed to struggle, huff and puff but to no avail! The pressure just came in wave after wave of attack from Thatcham and to their credit, the Back line tried and tried to deny Thatcham a goal, but like I said earlier, if you keep being put under pressure, the likely hood is that this pressure will take its toll!
The pressure that came from Thatcham was too much and They beat down the door another two times, leaving the final score at 3-1 to Thatcham.

It was clear that at the end of the day the boys need to use this as a valuable lesson. It is harder to chase the ball than to keep it, they have to learn to retain it. The boys need to make their passes count, they must learn to not just pump it long in a hit and hope style. They need to work on their stamina, when you are tired, it makes it more difficult to make clear decisions and your first touch just is not there. They have to keep their shape, if one player does not track back, it leaves a big hole and the better sides take advantage.

Lots and lots to work on moving forward, but to leave this on a positive note, Andover again were hard to break down and to their credit, defensively looked strong for most of the game. Owen, Daniel, Finlay and James all tried to keep Thatcham at bay, which was the reason that our Man of the Match was given to Daniel.

The hardwork begins again on Saturday at training, with the return match with Thatcham Harriers this Sunday. So lets start with a clean slate and see if we can get back to the team performance that we saw in game one of this season.

Thank you all for your support and I guess we will see you Saturday.


Steve and Andy

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