Double Figures Again For Andover

Another Sunday morning arrived and yes that meant the next step in our title challenge had arrived. Newbury were our opponents and although not our usual nemesis in the form of Newbury, but its never usually an easy ride against any Newbury side.
It is also fair to say that we can consider ourselves in a title fight right now, as we are currently sitting on the top of the league and do have a 3 point lead over our nearest rivals FC Cougars. Some stats just to take in for the season to date. In terms of our league performances we have Played 7, Won 5, Drawn 1 and Lost 1. Goals for is a very impressive 39 and goals against an also impressive 8 (This including the tally from this Sundays game), so with a +31 goal difference, it shows just how well the boys have done this season at both ends.

Still no complacency could be afforded with any team, as it was shown in our loss to Thatcham Black this season. So again the boys had worked hard in training on Saturday to ensure that the push can continue and that we would come away with another 3 points on the Sunday.

Focus at training had been really getting ourselves back to the basics of football. As we have seen on so many occasions this season, the boys are solid, they have shape, they are communicating, they are using the width, they are driving through the middle, they are scoring goals and they are keeping clean sheets. So all of this is great, but as we described it at training, you might have the best house in the world, but if it is not built on solid foundations it will crumble and fold under the slightest pressure. So it was about ensuring that we have total ball mastery, the first touch and the control are there and everyone is comfortable in possession.

Now at kick off it may have looked the total opposite, the ball was the proverbial Hot Potato, nobody wanted to get hold of it and everything seemed a little rushed and frantic. So was all the work at training and pre match gonna come into play or were we about to witness the opposite?
It did appear to take Andover a little time to settle in and it was end to end, both teams had early chances, but Andover had that super solid backline to bail them out and it was one of the Andover midfielders shouting, “come on Andover, we cant keep relying on the defence to save us” that shook things up.

Suddenly a little speight of goals came Andovers way, three in close succession and it looked like finally the quality of Andover had begun to shine through, but it was to Newburys credit that despite each goal we scored, they just kept coming. Again it was solidity and a little luck maybe, that ensured that Newbury would not score in the first half, but Andover would add another two to leave the score 5-0 at half time.

Ok so as I was the referee, I can not reveal what was discussed at half time, as I always keep away so as not to show any bias when I am the referee, but I am sure that Andy would have been keen to praise the defence, praised the quality of the goals and the build up play, but would have liked to see us show more composure on the ball and to see the wingers push on and attack the wide areas more and most importantly get players into the box to really rack up the score line.
I do know that one thing that was suggested to do was to see the backline press up and try playing the offside trap. It is something that we are practicing in training and with the score at 5-0, it seemed an ideal opportunity to practice.

The second half kicked off and within a minute it was 6-0. Harry, George Barkley, Joe and Alex combined in some fantastic one touch passing football, it resulted in a lovely finish from Alex who thumped the ball into the top left hand corner and it had to be game over now for sure and it would be about how many goals Andover can score.
It seemed however Newbury had a different plan. As Andover tried to break down the Newbury backline for number 7, Newbury kept plugging away and after a 10 minute period of back and forth they broke defence down and finally they had one to show for their endeavour.

This was the point that Andover upped the anti and finally it became one way traffic. Andover flooded forward and managed to bag another 4 goals and obtain double figures. One particular goal was created with a pass of pure class from Joe. After picking the ball up deep in midfield, Joe turned and threaded the ball past both the Newbury midfield and defencive line, this was straight into the path of the on rushing George B and he slotted home. For me, standing in the centre of the pitch right behind that pass makes you realise how good it was…………Take a bow son.

So the final score of 10-1 to Andover was harsh on Newbury in some ways, as until halftime I would say that they probably would have felt hard done by. It is true to say however that at times Andover played some great football and scored some great team goals which just showed the quality that this team have. Defensively, James, Owen, Daniel and Finlay again showed what a formidable force they can be and they will be tough for any team to break down.

So who got the man of the match this week? Some great displays, George B and his Hattrick? Joe for some great hold up play, goals and assists, Owen at the back for his dominant display and reading of the game? The list could go on, but the choice of the supporters was Finlay Robinson, who after a shaky almost sleepy start, he grew into the game and covered every blade of grass in his usual determined and solid style.

Oh and here is the Roll of Honour from the game:

Goal 1 – Scorer: Joe Assist: Sam
Goal 2 – Scorer: Charlie Assist: George L
Goal 3 – Scorer: George B Assist: Isaac
Goal 4 – Scorer: Harry Assist: Joe
Goal 5 – Scorer: Harry Assist: Isaac
Goal 6 – Scorer: Alex Assist: Harry
Goal 7 – Scorer: Isaac Assist: [dispossessed defender]
Goal 8 – Scorer: George B Assist: Joe
Goal 9 – Scorer: Salem Assist: Joe
Goal 10 – Scorer: George B Assist: Joe

Well done to the boys on another great performance, thanks to Ian for running the line and also for all of you for your support on a chilly Sunday afternoon…….Trust me it is not gonna get any warmer!

Steve and Andy

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