Kyle Chisholm, George Chopping-Kean, Lewis Cowper, Simon Fatimehin, Jack Gibbons, Jake Griffiths, Ryan Hill, Kyran Leech, David O'Donnell, Charlie Paxton, Jack Richards, Tom Simmons, Liam Sulaman, Lewis Tierney, Sean Weston.
Message 22nd April: If you haven't yet returned your kit audit & order form (necessary for next season), please do so this weekend. As stated, the Club will pay 13 pounds of the 25 pound cost for the team jacket but nothing will be ordered until all forms are received. If you've lost it, eaten it or made it into a paper plane, please collect another one at training on Saturday 26th & return it on Sunday 27th.
Training at Radlett Road on Saturday morning from 10:00AM to 11:30AM. Will review this once we know who's representing their secondary school at which sports and what that means for training as a squad on a Saturday.
Please let Sean know by 9:00PM every Thursday evening if you are UNAVAILABLE to train or play the following weekend. This is important!
Tue 29th April - confirmed as a home fixture at Woodside (usual pitch) v Oakhill Raiders with k/o set for 6:15PM latest. Please arrive by 5:45PM or earlier to help setup nets, etc. No ref allocated so I will be reffing - hence someone needs to run a line for Nascot.
Please note: for all home fixtures, arrive at Woodside no later than 40 minutes prior to kick-off to setup nets, corner flags, warm-up, etc.
Key: ST = Spring Trophy match.
WFLB = Blue division League match.
The marathon run of 5 games in 10 days reached its conclusion with a home match in the Blue division against Oakhill; with only ten available (& tired!) players, this was likely to be a another test in a season of tough tests - especially given Oakhill's position near the top of the table. It was also an 'interesting' evening for me as Gibbo & I had to leave by 6:30PM to get to his U13 District cricket net at Westfield; this meant I could only setup the pitch and then hand-on the other match duties to willing volunteers - thanks to all that helped. Perhaps you'll volunteer again in future matches & seasons... :-)
Dod took the skipper's role, we moved some of the lads around position-wise to get some kind of balance and we were off! From the almost 20 minutes I watched, i thought we were the best team on the pitch; we competed, tackled, passed, looked strong & fit and could well have taken the lead on at least three occasions. From what I've been told, we carried that on for the rest of the half with the 'keeper & back three playing really well to protect our goal whilst the midfield & forwards worked hard to create opportunities & keep the ball when in possession. To reach half-time with a 0-0 score and with one man less is a superb achievement that all the lads can be proud of.
As the rain fell, the second half was at least as good as the first! We continued to stay in the match and it took a speculative effort in the 44th min that went in off the post to break our resistance and, as we understandably began to tire in the latter stages, further goals in the 52nd, 54th & 57th minutes gave the result a bit of an unfair gloss from our perspective.
Credit to Oakhill's supporters as they were decent enough to pay tribute to our spirit & tenacity; the phrase I've been told was they thought they were in for an easy game against ten demoralised men at the bottom of the table and a chance to rack-up a hatful of goals. I think that's a real compliment to our lads; we rarely give-in and generally compete against all our opponents in the true spirit of football.
The luxury for me was not having to pick a MotM and have to single one man out from yet anohter huge team performance; the accolade was a committee decision and went to Jack Richards.
This weekend sees us without a match on Sunday 20th so we'll have a "relaxed" training session on Saturday 19th at Radlett Road from 10:00AM to 11:30AM.
After three Spring Trophy games in six days last week (all had to be played by Sun 13th April hence the "crush"), we got back to League action away at Borehamwood. The morning started nice & bright but clouded over as the game neared kick-off; we welcomed Dod back from his holiday and he suggested Gibbo continue to wear the skipper's arm-band. We kicked-off and competed really well; we looked composed on the ball, moved it around quite well and looked very organised in the early stages despite conceding a well-worked goal in the 7th minute. Event thought we were 0-1 down so soon, the team stayed focussed and began creating chances of our own; Tom forced the 'keeper into several good saves, JR put in some good corners & free kicks that the keeper was getting a hand to but the 2nd ball wouldn't fall our way and we had a few chances to shoot on goal but without conviction. Lewis was 'keeping well at our end and his kicking was first class behind a very solid & organised defensive quartet. Unfortunately, we conceded a second goal on 24 mins and went into half-time 0-2 behind.
The team were asked to talk more, stay organised, work the ball around and watch 'Woods skipper as he was running the game from midfield. I swapped Sean for Lewis T up front and we were off again!
Under ever darkening skies, Borehamwood played some really nice stuff down the slope and notched a 3rd on 35 mins but it was less than a minute later when a good move saw Tom streak free of their defence and plant a cool finish into the far side of the net for 1-3. Tails-up, we started to press forward with more belief and continued to play some nice stuff as the hail & rain began to fall from very dark & foreboding skies. In fairness, Borehamwood were threatening to take the game by the scruff of the neck; Lewis made one stupendous diving save away to his right to keep them at bay as well as being helped by some good tackling in front of him. Again, we conceded a well-worked goal on 45' to make it 1-4 before a fifth went in on 54' and the ref called a hlat a minute or two early as the rain began to increase.
Well done to Borehamwood; played some nice stuff in a good, competitive match and probably deserved their win. However, our improvement since they gave us a tonking early in the season was obvious to see & credit to our lads spirit & determintation. All our team played to their ability and worked hard as a unit to try to win the match; in the end, I picked Tom as our MotM for his cool finish, hard work and consistency over the season.
On to Tuesday 15th and another League game at home to Oakhill Tigers Raiders. kick-off is 6:00PM to 6:15PM so please be there no later than 5:40PM; Note that we may not have a full XI as Jake, Gibbo, & Liam are all unavailable with Charlie still injured and nothing heard from Kyle. Will try to get a ref if possible as I can only stay until just before half-time as Gibbo's District cricket net now starts at 7:00PM, not 7:30PM. It all means you're going to have to work together to get the kit back to my house & complete the admin. Ta in advance!
Our marathon run of fixture caused by the weather ruining plans meant the final Spring Trophy match of three was played on a Friday evening at Woodside. Once again, the Nascot Wood U12s took to the field of play but seemed a little subdued by the size of the task - and opposition! - in front of them. But they surprised no-one except themselves with a fine battling performance against the best team in our group.
Despite the size of some of Whetstone's lads, we gave at least as good as we got; Panthers were second-best during the early encounters & took time to get into their rhythm because we refused to give in. Before they got their first goal on 15 mins, we could have had a couple with a more luck in front of goal; we matched them tackle for tackle and pass for pass. Even after going behind, we kept plugging away, played some really good football and deserved not to go in 0-1 down at half-time.
Once again, the half-time call was for more of the same with improved talking (please can we learn to talk to each other on the pitch?!) and continue to believe in ourselves. We swapped Lewis T for Simon, pushed Kyran upfront with Tom and JR out wider for the second period.
Again, we were undone by conceding early in the half (32nd min) but showed good character & spirit to keep going and looked every bit as good as Whetstone. We continued to compete, play football, create chances and not give up even after going 0-3 down on 52 mins.
Once again, our team proved themselves to be capable, strong & resolute; they never give up, battle to the end and they can be as proud of themselves as we all are as parents. It goes without saying that they were all stars this evening but I felt Kyran stood out as he did well in two different positions tonight - good stuff, mate!
There is no training on Saturday 12th to give the lads a rest as we have our 4th match in 8 days away at Borehamwood in the League on Sunday 13th; this is now a 10:30AM kick-off so we'll be leaving my house no later than 9:40AM to be at their Aycliffe Road, WD6 ground (park in the day care centre) for 10:00AM.
After Sunday's sudden return to winter, there was a fear this would be played on a wet pitch but we seem to have had some more spring-like weather and it was quite a pleasant evening at Woodside for a match against the team that grew from Nascot Wood U8 Ravens. With many of each team at the same schools (old & new), this was likely to be a competitive affair.... The watching Nascot parent's were augmented by the manager's wife for the evening; boy, did our lot know it!! Sadly for us, Tom Franklin (one of our own from last season) was to turn the game against us as a half-time sub.
Gibbo retained the armband as Dod's Trans-Atlantic absence continued and Nascot took the kick-off. Pleasingly, we seemed more than a match for Oxhey as we tackled better, passed the ball around and competed on all fronts. We held our own throughout and kept their strike force very quiet where it mattered around the box for most of the half; Lewis dealt comfortably with anything that came his way and the only serious threat was a thunderous drive that hit our cross bar. We managed to engineer a couple of half-chances for Tom but the ball wouldn't quite run his way to allow him to get a shot off and we had several longer-distance attempts that proved comfortable for their 'keeper.
Half-time came & went with no possible substitutions by us and instruction to continue to work hard for each other but to talk more as we were (as ever!) way too quiet. Football is a simple game; all you need to do is control a football, know where your team-mates are, listen to their advice ("man on", "knock it square", etc) and make good decisions. When you have our lad's skill & ability, that should be easy.
From their own kick-off, Oxhey's knocked it forward to "Big Tom" and he pretty much ran the show when the ball was near him. However, we kept him on his left foot whenever possible & restricted him to longer-range efforts. This half saw the ball not staying in our attacking third as much and that meant we began to tire without the luxury of subs to freshen it up. We kept pace with Oxhey but conceded a valid penalty on 40 mins when Lew C didn't quite get to the ball first. In my book, he kept his 100% record of saving penalties this season following a great diving save but was beaten by the rebound off his own ankle that 'dribbled' over the line just before he could grasp it. That seemed to dent his confidence a bit & a shot from distance evaded him less than a minute later for a cruel 2nd goal. Again, we showed great character not to give in and kept going; that was epitomised by Liam suffering a calf knock that forced him off for around 8 minutes or so. During that time, we worked even harder and Oxhey failed to take a bigger advantage but we also couldn't get the goals we deserved. The final goal was a back-post corner that drifted into the top-most corner to add a slightly unfair gloss to the result.
Feli's lads played some nice stuff going forward but our defence dealt pretty well with their threat most of the time and forced them to play most of their football out on the wings without any real threat to our goal. We couldn't quite find the right pass to take advantage of Tom's pace against their back line otherwise we would surely have got those deserved goals. It was pleasing to see all the boys on both teams play the game in the right spirit and respect each other after the final whistle. Just a shame one of the Oxhey parents didn't follow the FA "Respect" guidelines by spending several minutes at the start of the 2nd half playing inside left (five yards on the field of play) until I asked him to return to the "right" side of the touch line & then he arguing with several Nascot supporters.
Overall, I was pleased with the first game of the rest of our season and the effort all the lads in Nascot shirts put into the match; I believe we played well, deserved a better result and they can be proud of themselves. MotM was much more difficult to pick than Saturday; good performances all round with Liam just pipping his team-mates by having the showed courage to go off when injured & even more to come back on.
On to Friday 11th; our last Trophy match at home at Woodside against Whetstone. Please be there no later than 5:40PM for a 6:00PM kick-off. That means no training on Saturday 12th to give the lads a rest as we have our 4th match in 8 days away at Borehamwood in the League on Sunday 13th; this is now a 10:30AM kick-off so we'll be leaving my house no later than 9:40AM to be at their Aycliffe Road, WD6 ground (park in the day care centre) for 10:00AM.
Following the Easter break and very strange set of school holidays, we travelled to North London to play our first match in four weeks hoping to be "Up for the Cup" but it didn't turn out that way. Sadly, this will be probably among my briefest match reports....
Gibbo as skipper (standing in for Dod whilst his family were stranded due to illness) won the toss, elected to kick-off and then it all went wrong. Suffice to say what was said after the final whistle will hopefully act as a spur for our team to never play football again with as little passion, pride, effort or respect for themselves & their families. The game is best summed-up thus: we didn't compete, challenge or do any of the basics. I don't mind losing if we put in an effort but surrendering without any really is not on.
There were few bright spots; Gibbo had a great game (encouraged, organised & tried to keep his team-mates going), some of the lads put a little effort in just after the second half started but our first shot at goal didn't materialise until the 50th minute when I sent Lewis C (yep - the 'keeper) up for a corner and two great finishes by George & Tom but that was it, really.
Credit to Tony's Alex Park; they used the ball well and played some good stuff to take full advantage of our lethargy & mistakes. They played the game in the right spirit as well as by the rules; it was good to see both teams shake hands at the end & good luck to South for the remainder of their season.
That'll make Tuesday's match against Oxhey Jets & today's rearranged match (following cancellation due to snow) on Friday at home to Whetstone both "must win" if we want that semi-final place. I'm not setting targets, that's up to the lads themselves to decide after Saturday's capitulation.
A run down the A41 to Mill Hill started with it threatening to rain but ended with a reasonable afternoon's weather - and a lesson in how to play the game! We'd had a great match against Pinnacle at Woodside but with no subs, we were likely to find it tough against Andy's very slick unit. The lads were told to go out, work very hard and be sure they walked off the pitch with heads held high having done giving everything they had.
We got the game underway and the early exchanges were pretty well-matched but gradually Pinnacle got into their stride and began testing us with up-tempo football & obvious talent. We did manage to get the ball into their half occasionally for Tom or JR to have a go at their back line using their pace but we couldn't quite find the final pass. On 8 mins, Pinnacle's pressure told and they took the lead; we were now defending as though our lives depended on it but we showed spirit & tenacity. Lewis C was playing well & brilliantly saved a penalty (correctly awarded) on 15 mins but it was a 0-2 on 17' mins with the game now mainly played in our half. How we got to the 28th minute before 0-3 happened, I'm not really sure!
Half-time saw us trying to raise spirits, keep the lads heads-up and get them to mark the two Pinnacle centre-mids who were running the match like seasoned professionals! Charlie bravely decided to take a rest to control his asthma so we returned to the pitch with 10 men.
The second half started like the first finished with Nascot on the back foot; it was, therefore, a surprise when Dod collected their 'keepers clearance on half-way, took a pace forward and smacked a Beckham-esque effort (& contender for any goal of any season!) into the net for 1-3. Game on - until Pinnacle notched their fourth just a minute later! Despite our best efforts, the Pinnacle centre-mids ran the show and goals at regular intervals followed until George buried a beauty from a difficult angle to make it 2-9 on 57 mins. Two more Pinnacle strikes finished the scoring at 2-11.
Before I talk about us, a word for Andy's Pinnacle side; they were good at our place but magnificent today! I rate them as the best team we have played since we started at U8; they play football, they have talented players and they play in the right spirit. Pinnacle should be extremely proud of Andy's team, their supporters and the ref, Mick, as they are a credit to themselves, the Club and youth football. I'd even go so far as to admit I'd pay to watch 'em play!
Now, what can we take away from today? Actually, quite a lot! We didn't throw the towel in but kept tackling, running & working for each other. Every Nascot player can be pleased with what they did and how they did it; our spirit is fantastic and And was kind enough to comment on that as well as praising some individuals. For me, every Nascot lad put in 100% - you can't ask for much more than that - and that's outstanding given the quality of the opposition.
This week's MotM goes to Tom Simmons; he chases everything up front, is always looking to get on the end of a pass, works hard and troubles the opposition whenever he's got the ball.
Sunday 16th March sees us in our first Spring Trophy match away at Alex Park South. Kick-off is 10:00AM so please leave my house no later than 9:00AM to get to Durnsford Park, Albert Road, London, N22 for around 9:30AM; it's not far from where we played Alex Park West a couple of weeks ago.
A home match on Mother's Day against Omonia promised to be a stiff test for all of us: players, parents & manager. Would we perform? Before the game, the lads were told to focus on playing football against Omonia & nothing else whilst the change to a 4-4-2 system was used to try & allow us to play the ball out from the back with more options.
Omonia kicked-off and were 0-1 up in the 2nd minute as it appeared Nascot Wood were somewhere else & not on a football pitch; we weren't "at it" as requested in the first few minutes and no communication was evident. We seemed nervous and thus played poorly before eventually the lads roused themselves & began to compete. We lost George on 10 mins to a calf injury following a tackle so he was replaced by Leiws T and we switched to 3-5-2 to stem Omonia's space & time to attack from midfield. We did create some half-breaks for Tom but there was little support for him; our usual failures to retain shape & discipline coupled with not chasing back once out of position really started to hurt us. George was back on for Sean on 18 mins and we started to get some momentum but Omonia were always dangerous on the break. Lewis C took a nasty knock following another brave piece of 'keeping that just failed to keep out their 2nd on 26 mins.
Generally, a very unimpressive first half. I 'reminded' the team that they needed to show some pride & passion; we're a better team than they think they are most of the time and it's frustrating to watch a bunch of honest, friendly & talented players not put in the right level of effort or display a sense of "team first" when they're on the pitch. Instructions given were to believe in themselves, play as a unit, communicate effectively and win the game.
It seemed to have the right effect! Dod set Tom free and he rounded one defender before curling a beauty passed the 'keeper for 1-2; game on! Well, it was until we switched off from their re-start, allowed them to waltz through virtually unopposed to make it 1-3 a minute later and let it take the wind right out of our sails. Again, we created a few breaks and some half-chances but never really threatened concerted pressure on their goal. Our defending was good; we dealt with the majority of their breaks pretty well but we were being forced to defend in our half and not chasing-down enough in the midfield areas; this allows any opponent time to recover, attack & keep us away from their goal. Sean made way for Lewis T on 39 mins in a final change and we tried to push on but again couldn't quite make it stick. Their final goals were in the 47th & 59th minutes.
Omonia played more football in a better spirit than previous meetings (there were still 'verbals' & strong challenges around....) but I felt we conceded defeat before the game had even started. We simply have to compete against stronger teams; we managed it against Bedmond, Northwood, Pinnacle, St Albans City, etc so we must approach every match with the same will to win & play well. In hindsight, we may have missed Jake & Simon for their physical presence as much as their ability but the squad is strong enough now to cope with players missing if they believe in themselves.
Again, there were good performances from most but, for me, Lewis C was MotM for some very good stops & overall brave 'keeping.
Sunday 9th March is now a "reversed" fixture; we now play Pinnacle away at their Chase Lodge, Page Street, Mill Hill, NW7 2ED pitch with kick-off set for 2:00PM. Please be at the ground by 1:30PM; I plan on leaving my house no later than 12:50PM.
The motorway journey to N10 passed without any problems (thought there was a Cup Final at Wembley....? :-) to play an Alex Park West side that had given us a stiff test in the home match earlier in December. We really needed to win this one to re-establish some momentum after three great performances had left us without any more points
A great pitch in good condition but with a strong wind blowing end-to-end meant both teams would need to keep the ball on the deck & play some football. As we wanted to win this, we changed our usual formation to bolster the attack and started with the lads in a 3-5-2 formation and instructions to not panic, use the ball well, talk to each other and enjoy the game come what may. We lined-up with the wind behind us in the first half and were "at it" from our kick-off! After just two minutes, we won our first corner on the right, George curled over a beauty, Simon got a fabulous headed flick and JR thundered the ball passed the 'keeper for 1-0. We played some great stuff going forward until we lost a bit of shape, allowed Alex Park to break and they equalised with a well-constructed & finished team goal. I was worried: if they did that with the wind against them, how would we cope second half?! Turns-out this was unfounded; some more good Nascot play was rewarded with Dod impersonating Leigh Bromby's long throw ability, the ball bounced around the box for a bit before Tom had a shot well saved but George powered home the rebound for 2-1. We continued to impress; one piece of sublime skill & astute pass by Dod set JR free down the right wing to cross for Tom but his effort was saved. There were several more near misses from us and some good stops by Alex Park whilst they continued to break in numbers when Nascot poured forward. Luckily, our defence & 'keeper kept them out during this spell, which saw the impressive Kyran replaced by Sean on 25 mins before Jake & George both had shots saved in one attack on 27 mins that lead to Tom crashing home the loose ball for 3-1.
At half-time, we swapped to 4-4-2 with George lining-up as left centre-back to cope with an expected barrage from Alex Park but we made no further subs before the second period kicked-off. The lads were told to concentrate, communicate, work hard and continue to build on what they achieved in the first half.
Another fine Nascot move saw Tom break free, menace the goal, force a save and JR calmly slot the rebound away for a 4-1 lead in the 34th minute. Sean had the ball in the net shortly after but an offside flag ruled it out (there were a couple of those) before we swapped Lewis T for Sean on 43 mins. It was fair to say Alex Park were more "in" the second half and we relied on gritty defending to keep them out and neat, fast football on the break to pose a threat to them. On 50 mins, we gave Simon a well-deserved rest with Kyran coming back on in left midfield. We seemed to tire more than expected which lead to an uncomfortable last few minutes where Alex Park scored on 52 & 56 minutes but, in the end, we had done enough earlier to earn the win.
Credit to Steve's lads; they played some nice stuff, looked good going forward but our very strong first 50 minutes meant they had just too much to do in the final 10 minutes.
On balance, I felt we deserved our victory as we played some excellent football during those first 50 minutes, created more chances and our finishing in the box was classy. All 13 lads played exceptionally well but I felt Jake edged out the MotM award.
Sunday 2nd March sees us at home to Omonia White for a 10:00AM kick-off. We have a ref so please be at Woodside by 9:15AM at the very latest to get nets & flags up, warmed-up & ready for the match!!
The short trip to Northwood on a frosty morning gave us another game to see how much we'd improved this season; a physical & tough Northwood team had played us off the park in our home match so I was looking for a much more competitive performance.
The pitch was in reasonable condition despite the frost & was beginning to thaw; concern was it may get too heavy to play any football but, as the game progressed form our kick-off, it was clear we were up for this one. The back four looked really solid, the midfield were keeping their shape and Tom was always a threat up front. I'd always thought this likely to be a "muck & nettles" type of game so I was nicely surprised when some football broke out - from both sides. Yes, we were on the back foot but we were defending really well and not afraid to move the ball about when able. Northwood's goal on 21 mins was a superb corner routine but just about the only time Nascot's players "went to sleep" and didn't do their jobs properly with regard to marking. Not long after, JR injured his shoulder so Kyran came on in a straight swap. We did create some good breaks and unsettled Northwood's defence on occasions but weren't able to capitalise with the goal I felt we deserved from our improved performance.
Didn't really have much to criticise at half-time; it was about keeping our shape, playing with heart & pride and making sure we kept Northwood "honest" during the second half.
Sadly, Northwood scored an early goal on 32 mins when we couldn't quite clear a corner; at this point I began to fear we may get swamped but I was immensely proud of all our lads as they dug in, held their ground and battled to get back in the match. On 40 mins, I took Lewis T off, switched Kyran to left midfield & JR went back on the right. I felt we more than matched Northwood in terms of the physical effort involved and went on to create a couple of good chances of our own. Yes, we had to defend well and our back 4 were outstanding but we competed all over the pitch & I truly feel we deserved a draw out of the match on just the improvement we've made in the passed two months alone.
Richard's Northwood are a strong, combative & skillful team capable of good football. They outplayed us at Woodside but we showed we can compete with good teams and need to believe in ourselves more to get to the same level as teams like Northwood. Improving our communication & concentration are key to this; we occasionally "switch-off" and this allows our opponents chances. We play great football when we pass the ball, use what time & space is available and work hard as a team.
Once again, there wasn't a bad performance from any Nascot player and there were several very impressive ones with George being the pick of these; he marked well, got in some fabulous tackles & headers and covered huge amounts of ground. Hence he got the MotM.
Sunday 24th February sees us away at Alex Park West; kick-off is confirmed as 11:30AM so we'll leave my house no later than 10:15AM to be at Muswell Hill Playing Fields, Coppetts Road, N10 (just off the North Circular Road - played Alex Park South their last year) for 11:00AM. Parking is "interesting" at the venue!
We welcomed Mike's City North to Woodside as an "unknown quantity" - we've never played this team before and so we hoped to continue building on our recent good performances but with a better result!
Gibbo & Lewis C switched position to give Lew a break from 'keeping; we looked strong & capable in the early exchanges and certainly weren't out-played at any stage in the half. We stroked the ball around well but perhaps not often enough; we need to pass earlier to use the time & space available as running with the ball generally allows the defence to get back into position which in turn make attacking more difficult. Both teams were creating good moves and half-chances whilst our defence was protecting Gibbo very well; in truth, I thought we created the better chances to score and forced their 'keeper to work harder. On 20 mins, we swapped Sean for Kyran to combat the increasing threat down our left side; it seemed to work until the final few seconds saw City break & finish for a slightly undeserved (in my opinion, obviously!) lead.
The half-time message was to get stuck in, close down their space when they were in possession and to use the ball better when we had it. I decided to take Sean back off, put Lewis T left-side and move JR inside with Kyran on for Simon; I'd hoped this would give us more balance to the side and a stronger "engine room" in the centre-mid.
Whilst I thought we played as well as the first half, City seemed to have had a talking to and they came out of the blocks quickly. However, we weathered the early storm & had just started to get back into our rhythm when they notched two in two minutes on 39' & 40' to take control: there was an almost audible "sigh" as the Nascot lads deflated like a hot air balloon on landing. Whilst we didn't give up, we were finding it more difficult to create space, use the ball & create chances. When we did, their defending was pretty good and they were very quick to counter-attack & catch us on the back foot. This speed lead to their last two goals on 48' & 53' minutes and, whilst we battled to get the consolation I felt we deserved all through the second half, we didn't really create enough clear-cut chances to extend them.
Mike's got a talented & well-drilled unit playing some good stuff but I really felt we competed with them and were worth a couple of goals. And credit to Peter Stopford; I thought he ref'd the game very, very well.
Again, this was a frustrating match because we didn't quite fire on all cylinders. Lots of effort, better tackling but we're still too quiet on the pitch, tend not to use the ball as well as I know (and I'm sure the lads know) we are capable of and we get drawn out of shape too often when we run with the ball. Yes, it looks fantastic - but only until you lose it & you're out of position which leave our defence "out-numbered" & under pressure. Passing the ball, using what time & space you have to its utmost and talking to each other really are simple things to do; you feel like you're playing as a team, you work harder for each other and you make the opposition 'worry' about our game rather than relaxing into their own.
Having said that, no-one played badly; the team all did their very best & can be pleased with their efforts - we just didn't "click" fully this week. The back 4 all put in great performances; I felt Ryan played one of his best games for us & just edged the other three lads out. .
The quick trip to Bedmond on a windy & cold morning was made with a little trepidation; Bedmond played us off the park in the home fixture earlier in the season so with just 12 available, I think we were all concerned how we'd perform against a well-organised, strong & talented team run by Gary & Damon.
We kicked-off and the lads obviously remembered the pre-match chat: get the ball down, use what time you have & work hard for each other as they came flying out of the blocks and Simon netted a super strike for his debut Nascot goal after just 4 minutes in the reverse of last week's slow start. What impressed me most was the level of team-work and use of time; the lads looked calm, assured footballers who wanted to show Bedmond that we can play a bit. On 12 minutes, we conceded a penalty (correctly awarded) that was well-dispatched for Bedmond's equaliser. Now would be a test for our newly-found tenacity & self-belief; the Nascot boys responded magnificently and kept taking the game to Bedmond when we were able whilst defending like purple-shirted Dervishes when we had to! The remainder of the first half passed in a blur of end-to-end football that was yet another example of two teams trying to play the right way & in the right spirit.
At half time, I decided to swap to a flat back four to cope with Bedmond's skillful forwards so Lewis T made way (after another excellent display against players a year older then himself) for Sean and we went back out with Liam, George, Gibbo & Kyran at the back, Simon, Charlie, Dod, JR & Sean in the middle and Tom as the "Lone Ranger" up front. Instructions were to continue to believe in themselves, keep working hard & use the time available to make good decisions.
Both teams continued to play football in pretty tricky conditions and the game ebbed & flowed in both directions. Bedmond took the lead on 40 minutes with a fine goal but I was really proud of the Nascot lads as they refused to wilt under pressure & continued to play football and create chances. Both 'keepers & defences were keeping their respective teams in it ad entertaining everyone watching. I was beginning to think 1-2 would be a great result given the turn-round since our first match against Bedmond when Simon got on the end of a half-cleared corner and powered the ball home for an equaliser on 55 minutes. Both teams continued to create further chances and Bedmond "nicked" all three points with a last minute winner.
Credit where it's due: Gary has put together a balanced & skillful Bedmond team capable of great football who are very difficult to beat. Consequently, they have high expectations so all the Nascot lads can take immense pride from Gary's kind & sporting comments at the end of the match - and again later on Sunday afternoon when he took the time to ring me to congratulate us again on how well we'd played & how far we'd improved in the last few months.
I was so proud of each one of our lads; I'd even suggest this was possibly our best match of the season, even though we didn't get anything in the end. We played some super stuff, everyone competed everywhere and we looked comfortable & strong. Once again, the hardest choice was that of MotM; it was incredibly difficult for me to pick just one individual after all the effort you all put in but I felt George defended superbly all game.
Sunday 10th February sees us at home to St Albans City North; kick-off is confirmed as 10:00AM so please be at Woodside no later than 9:15AM. We do have a ref allocated but it would be nice if someone could run the line for us due to my current knee injury. Thanks in advance.
With Watford's recent weather having been much less "moist" than of late, we switched the fixture from Mill Hill to Woodside so both sides could get a fixture completed and a very good game it turned out to be! With Kyle not well, Sean at a christening & Gibbo (for the 1st time in 5 seasons) not available, we swapped a few players round to face a Pinnacle side that were talented, well-organised & credit to their club.
Nascot started slowly; we were 0-2 down in less than 4 minutes as Pinnacle showed you can play good football at this level with lots of pace, movement & passing. I did begin to fear that we may be thoroughly routed but the Nascot lads dug in, started to play a bit, created a couple of half-chances and then pulled a goal back on 10 mins; some good midfield work so a raking pass put Tom racing toward goal, the 'keeper made a good stop but JR followed-up to hammer home gleefully. Tails-up, we competed for a bit longer before loosing some confidence that allowed Pinnacle to exploit space & time so we went to half-time 1-5 down.
All the lads had battled well in the first 30 minutes but they forgot some of the basics we teach: talk to each other, work as a team (chase back if you lose the ball, etc), use what time & space you have (i.e. don't hoof the ball away as though it's about to explode!) and shoot on sight. We swapped Lewis T for Simon and sent the lads back out to make a fast start, believe in themselves and give Pinnacle a good game.
We got that fast start; nicked their kick-off, sent Tom through and it was 2-5 straight away. You could see the boys visibly lift; they went ton to play some great football for the next few minutes and, when Tom raced clear after yet another great pass from midfield, the 'keeper could only parry it out for JR to smash home his 2nd for 3-5. Pinnacle then raised their game and so both sets of supporters had yet another fabulous advert for youth football in front of them: both sets of players we're getting the ball down, looking to pass it and making those passes tell. Pinnacle scored a couple of good goals before JR received a quick throw from Dod way out on the right wing, looked up to see the 'keeper slightly off his line and hit a glorious hat-trick goal to make it 4-7. We brought Lewis T on for Kryan & switched to 3-5-2 (Charlie to left-mid, Lewis T up front with Tom) to try and force things some more but the scoring was finished by another brace from Pinnacle (although Lewis C only just failed to keep out the final goal with three fabulous stops in the space of about 10 seconds!)
A quick word on Andy's Pinnacle side; he later told me it's made up of U12s, U11s & U10s that have come together this season so they'll be some unit once they've gelled and were a credit to themselves & their club as were their management & support; thanks again for a good game.
And Ed Canham refereed the match really well; clear decisions, good communication and allowed the game to flow where possible.
Only positives to take away from this match (bar the first & last five mins of the first half!). The lads again proved they can play football; what they need to remember is the basics: talk, time & toil! That means talk to each other all game long; use any time you have to control the ball & make your pass and work hard for the team. I was proud of all the lads again; last season, we may have folded after going down to two goals in the first 5 minutes but we're stronger mentally this year so we came back, dug in & played football. The MotM was well deserved by JR for his hat-trick; all the lads can be pleased with themselves as they all played to their potential.
Sunday 3rd February sees us make the short trip to play Bedmond Ajax; kick-off is confirmed as 11:00AM so will be leaving my house by 10:15AM to arrive around 10:30AM. Park in the Bedmond Sports & Social Club on Toms Lane, Bedmond, WD5 0RB. We're playing on the pitch behind the hedge, not the one immediately outside the clubhouse.
What a fantastic start to 2008 - a 2nd consecutive home win in the League for the first time in years and in one of the best youth matches it's been my privilege to be involved in. With Liam having picked-up an injury during training but making a very brave decision to not aggravate it, we started with a 3-5-2 formation against Scorpions side that had already beaten us twice this season. And they were down to 10 available for the match.
The first half started very brightly and it just got better & better as time marched on; both sides wanted to win the game, both played football, both kept the spirit of the game alive and entertained all the supporters watching - I'd even have paid to watch it!! There was just too much good stuff going on to remember all of it whilst running the line but highlights included Lewis C's improved goal-kicking, both sets of players getting the ball down down to play football whenever possible and the way all the Nascot lads worked hard for each other. It lead to goalmouth incidents, great saves & defending (Ryan cleared a goal-bound header off our line), excellent attacking (one move where Lewis C rolled the ball out to Ryan who pinged it forward for Jake to knock a first-time pass 'round the corner' to JR who found Tom with a raking pass inside the full-back lead to their 'keeper making a good interception was worthy of any football team anywhere in any competition). Charlie was injured making a brave challenge so we brought Sean on in left mid, dropped George to left centre back and continued to the end of the half.
This was possibly the simplest half-time team talk I've ever given: "second half, just do it again". The lads were told to believe in themselves & their ability and go back out to win the match.
If anything, the second half was even better than the first! The game had a cup-tie feel to it as it ebbed & flowed from end-to-end; passes found their targets, decision-making was good in all areas, good communication, cover & hard work evident all over the pitch: in short, exactly what we've been building toward in training for the passed two years. On 36 mins, we brought Lewis T on up-front for Kyle, drew another breath and went back at it. Tom was put though on more than one occasion but the odd awkward bounce along with their 'keeper & defence managed to keep him out until the 40th minute; another break along our left side lead to skipper Dod putting-over a fabulous cross that Tom headed (yes, headed!) into the far corner for 1-0. Chorleywood came storming back and forced us to earn our lead more than once; some great defending by George, Gibbo & Ryan and the superb Lewis C in goal held them at bay and when they started to tire, the midfield came back to help-out. In the last fifteen minutes, we saw some of the best defending of the match from Scorpions right-back (not one or twice but three times he stopped certain goals for Tom & Sean); Simon belting a thunderbolt onto the underside of the cross bar & Jake managing the same with his follow-up, Lewis C making a fantastic block in a 1-on-1 and several other cool bits of defending. In all that, we made our final substitution on 50' mins to give Sean a rest & bring Kyran on up front with Lewis T switching to left mid.
I have nothing but the highest of praise & respect for Chorleywood; they were a credit Nick & Russell, their club, their families but most of all themselves. They restored my faith that youth football can be played in the "right" spirit with both teams trying to win the game by playing football and not employing some of the "tricks of the trade" as seen on TV.
And a word for Aaron our ref. He helped the game flow, made good decisions and proved the best refs are the ones you don't notice.
I didn't learn anything I didn't already know about Nascot Wood Rangers U12s yesterday but I know the lads proved to themselves that they can play, they are a team, that teamwork is the best way, winning is enjoyable but winning a great match is even more so! Some of our play was outstanding in both attack & defence; the lads made good decisions at the right times; they backed each other-up all over the pitch and deserved their win. This was one of those games when every single Nascot player was a star; in the end, the lads themselves wanted the award to go to Simon. He's an U11 playing up an age group so it shows how much he is capable of and he can be very proud of his performance in his first full game for us. Well done, mate!
We train again at Radlett Road on Saturday 12th but don't yet know if we have a match on Sunday 13th as the League have to resolve two sets of County cup as well as League & Challenge Cup competitions before they can advise us. At this time (9:30PM Monday 7th), there is still no update but I will contact you all somehow as soon as I can.
The "Blue division Basement Battle - first leg" took place at Woodside on what wasn't as cold a morning as expected; think the Brass Monkeys were probably happy at that... (Younger people: please ask mum & dad to explain as they're not a 'popular beat combo' ..... ).
We lined-up with the guys that got soaked against St Albans two weeks ago but in 3-4-3 formation to see if we could create more in attack. Unfortunately, we never really got going in the first half; we did create a few half-chances but our passing & energy were below our usual standards so we did well to battle back from 0-2 down with Tom notching a good goal just before half-time & we owed much to Lewis's 'keeping for just being two down at that stage.
Half-time saw not a hairdryer but a wind machine of epic proportions wheeled out by some "Grumpy Old Bloke" to suggest the lads weren't playing too well and the lads were told not to come off the pitch until they'd won the game.........
We made our subs and lined-up again with Ryan, Gibbo & Liam in front of Lewis C; JR, Jake, Simon, Dod & George across the middle and Tom & Kyle up front to leave Charlie, Sean & Lewis T as subs. Not quite sure what I said but it seemed to have a positive effect; Nascot Wood voices were heard on the pitch for the first time as the team kicked itself into life; by the 35th minute, we were 3-2 up through a skipper's goal from Dod & Tom's second of the game and playing some nice stuff. Alex Park pegged it back to 3-3 before Tom secured our first League win in nearly two seasons with a winner.
Credit to Alex Park; they played some good stuff in an absorbing game of football played in the right spirit between two evenly matched teams - I'm sure the return fixture promises to be equally as good.
Performance-wise, the first half was disappointing as we didn't use the time we had, didn't pass the ball well enough but most of all didn't put the effort in to match Alex Park. We need to pass more accurately & intelligently, put our foot on the ball, use the time & space available and work as a unit. Too often this season, we've started well but then stopped playing; this match was the reverse where we started poorly but got better. The second half saw us passing the ball better, use the spaces that were opening-up and put in the effort & teamwork necessary at this level. Whilst I thought everyone played to their ability, the stand-out performer was Lewis Cowper: back to his best between the sticks, he was brave, quick off his line, handled crosses with confidence and threw himself around to keep the ball out of the net.
Now we go into the festive break; next match is Sunday 6th January at home to Chorleywood Scorpions (we have a ref allocated and it's a 2:00PM kick-off so please be at Woodside for 1:15PM latest) and our next training session is Saturday 5th January from 10:00AM at Radlett Road. Enjoy Christmas, have fun and come back ready to battle to the end of the season!
On a wet & windy morning, we played probably our worst-ever first half in four seasons. Whilst Dod got us back to 1-2 with an adventurous cross, there was a serious lack of teamwork, passing & control: in short, we deserved the hiding we got, there was not much we could do to change it and so, like a certain Mr Ferguson, I had to use the half-time hairdryer.
We played much better in the second half; in fact, I was really pleased how the team responded and played some good football in tricky conditions against a talented side. For the first 15 mins, we were in control and creating half-chances but not quite able to convert them. As the game wore on, our lads tired understandably but showed some character to keep battling.
There were some good performances in this second half and I've chosen Liam as this weeks WFL Starman. Thanks to George's dad for running the line; it let me concentrate on our team rather than the game as you must as a ref or lino.
As for what we do in the future, we must train more intelligently with discipline & control on Saturday to concentrate on skills, techniques, teamwork, etc and leave the competitive edge for Sunday's matches.
Having taken a couple of days to think about writing this report, the simple bit is we lost; tried hard, put in a level of effort but ultimately we didn't compete. Having said that, credit where it's due: Northwood are a very good team who stopped us playing then imposed themselves on the match. How did they manage that? Simple: they played & worked as a team.
In a departure from my usual style, instead of a match report here's my analysis of what we need to do next as coach/manager, players, parents, etc.
1. Take what we do well during training into every match. We're competitive, don't like being beaten, pass the ball, work hard, talk, etc: why can't we do this every Sunday? Do you need to re-focus & listen to what's being said in training: it's for practise technique, skills, team work, etc and then you can leave the competitive side to matches.
2. Keep your shape & discipline during each match. We're often isolated with the ball & no help because we not retaining our shape due to running out of position but walking back head down & looking 'disinterested'; everyone must work together in attack & defence as too often we're out-numbered in defence & under constant pressure; we don't use time on the ball well enough and players aren't talking to each.
3. Work hard for each other on the pitch; if you lose the ball, chase back behind the next Nascot player to cover him or find another unmarked opponent but tell your team mates what you're doing. Same goes when we're attacking; tell a team-mate to cover your position but don't forget to let him get forward next time.
4. Don't be afraid to take charge of the game, make decisions and play football; you're all capable of great things when you just let it happen but don't panic when you have the ball or it's coming towards you. You may not be playing in your favourite position; pretty much all of you (that returned questionnaires) want to play midfield or forward but that's not possible - you have to have defenders, 'keepers, etc.
5. You have to remember to get your head back into the game when things don't go as you want them to; that's always been a key measure of good players & better teams: they roll their sleeves up, dig in, keep trying things and work hard for & encourage each other. I definitely don't want to hear you "moaning" at each other, the ref or the opposition.
6. Off the pitch, I need to be able to coach & manage; I cannot do either anything like properly while reffing or running the line so parents & supporters have to help with this side of football as previously suggested. Now I'm pleading for you to help the team & myself.
7. Support the players in each game but don't coach them. Generally we're very good at this but it's my role as coach & manager (see points 1 to 5) to get them playing football how I (or we) want them to; if anyone wants to help with tactics, team selection, making subs, etc, I'd welcome it and you have all my contact details.
I really believe we have a talented team of players who are well supported off the pitch but we seem to be loosing confidence in our ability - me included. If anyone has any ideas about how to take the team forward, I for one would be more than happy to listen.
Over to all of you: it's as much your team & Club as it is mine: what do you want to do to turn things around??
Nice early start on a cold, grey & windy Sunday morning saw us zoom (as fast as the cameras would let us!) up the M1 to take on Markyate Youth in the Herts County Cup (round 2); not knowing much about them, this as a nice diversion from the League programme. On arrival, it was just as cold, grey & windy as back home and with a tight pitch that should suit our passing game. We tried to stay defrosted and asked the guys to be confident in their ability, move the ball well, keep working hard for each other & the team and to talk to each other.
Markyate took the kick-off and looked a very capable team but it was NWRFC that created the game's first chances; we should have kicked-on form their but we went one down in the 7th minute and started to show less composure and an inability to retain team shape & discipline. We created chances but were caught offside (or close to offside!) too many times for our own good. Meanwhile, the defence were getting stretched due to the midfield pushing forward; when they weren't we had seven defenders for five attackers but still didn't communicate well with each other to clear the danger. We did keep making chances during this period, even after going 0-2 down on 23', and tried to get ourselves back on track.
Half-time seemed to pass very quickly; instructions to show more discipline, work as a team, don't panic and use the ball better were given and no subs made but the starting eleven were warned changed would be made if there was no real improvement.
We kicked-off and looked more up for the challenge but the early promise was dampened when we conceded the third goal on 34'. We conjured a nice move to make space for Tom to notch our opener and get us back in the match; the bad news was this only lasted for a few minutes before Markyate scored an excellent 4th that seemed to take the wind out of our sails. Kyle went on after this goal for Sean but Markyate were now fully into their stride; moving the ball out to their wings, runners through the middle and efforts on goal with the wind now behind them meant a busy day for the back four & 'keeper. after getting their fifth, Jake showed good determination & finishing to reduce the deficit but we just couldn't create more than half-chances against a well-organised unit and they complete the scoring.
Overall, our performance was a little disappointing compared with last week's effort with just ten men against Omonia; I have no issue with midfielders getting forward but they must recover more quickly and ensure they communicate with each other so there's more shape to the team. We get exposed if we all charge forward which means our midfield is "empty" and our defence then out-numbered so we're more likely to concede goals rather than score them. Varying our attacking strategy is key; if we keep the opposition guessing what we're doing, we have more chance of winning games. We need to vary our set-pieces so we're less predictable; try changing the angle with a pass to a better-placed team mate directly in front of goal so we have a better chance of making the opposition 'keeper work. Finally, talking to team mates means we sound like a team, there's more time to put our 'foot on the ball & pass' rather than 'hoof' upfield and watch it come straight back at us!
All that said, I don't think anyone played badly or below their ability yesterday; we just didn't quite gel as a team. There was a pleasing amount of effort given by all; my MotM was Gibbo for his consistency (not just this match but through the season) in a centre-back position he would prefer not to operate in but he does so because he understands the team need someone to play there & play well. His is one of the few voices audible in every game; organising, encouraging and asking for effort. If we all do that, the game becomes much easier as we all know what to do, where to go, who to mark, etc.
Next match is back in the League at home to Northwood on Sunday 25th November; kick-off will be 10:00AM so please be at Woodside for 9:15AM latest.
The longest away trip in our schedule was pretty uneventful but we only had 10 fit players; and that was down to Sean recovering enough from illness at the last minute - well played for making it, fella! Having last played Omonia White at 7-a-side, we knew this would not be an easy game with a full Nascot squad so with just 10 it was going to need a huge team performance allied to good football played with the right attitude.
In truth, it was hard to tell which side was one less during the first 15 minutes as Nascot played some great stuff and kept Omonia at bay superbly. It was just reward when George made yet another interception, fed the ball out to our left toward Tom but it wasn't cleared which allowed Tom to hit a shot the 'keeper saved but Tom was again first to the rebound and curled a beauty into the top corner. Omonia got back into it when Lewis C did well to parry a header from a corner but the ball fell kindly for an equaliser. With no subs to freshen our legs, the lads stuck at it bravely and even continued to make the more telling attacks; with more luck in & around goal, we might have gone in at half-time with a well-deserved lead. Having said that, 1-1 at the break was a fantastic effort from all the guys.
We started brightly again in the second period and weren't content with soaking-up all the pressure; we found time to get forward when able as the boys stuck at it with real determination. With a full squad inc subs, Omonia did begin to stretch us (understandably) once we began to tire after such a monumental effort but I'm certain they never had total control of the game; we were always dangerous & capable of matching them in attack whilst we defended valiantly for the majority of their attacks. It was pleasing to see Nascot concentrate on playing football with respect for the officials, spirit and laws of the game. Personally, I feel we did enough to deserve a point today.
Today's WFL Starman was a very tough decision as all the lads deserved it; in the end, Lewis Tierney got it for playing a full match for the first time at this level and for showing courage against players a year above his actual age group: well done, mate!
As always, there are lessons to learn from each game. We always look more accomplished when we take what time we have on the ball and get our passing game going; today we had less time but tried to do so on occasions. Our decision-making on the pitch is improving all the time but we now need to bring discipline into play so we keep our shape better & reduce the opposition's space. I have no problem with players getting forward (it's the only way to enjoy the game!) but we must "bust a gut" to get back behind the ball again afterwards.
Next Sunday sees a break from the WFL with our 2nd round Herts County Cup match away at Markyate. Still not had a confirmation of venue or time (writing this at 7:25PM Sunday 11th Nov) so I'll get that added to the fixture section as soon as I hear. As this is the furthest we've reached in the County Cup, let's get as full a squad available as possible. If you can't make Sunday, that's fine; just let me know on Thursday, please.
Back at Woodside for another League match to test ourselves with; could we turn in another consistent performance but this time get the win we deserved. We stuck with the formation from last week and welcomed back Lewis C to play in goal with Charlie moving back to central defence. Plan was to keep the ball, play some football, score more goals then we conceded and work hard as a team.
We started quite brightly and created some good breaks but we couldn't get the goal we needed to settle. As St Albans got back into the game, we seemed to go off the boil and give them a little too much space, time & respect; we need to believe in ourselves more and have the confidence to compete (within the rules, obviously) to impose our game on the opposition. We went behind on 6' and then further behind on 16'; in between, it was a reasonably open and competitive football match punctuated by skill & flair from both teams. Kyran, who'd been laid-low with a bug, took a deserved rest on 20' for Kyle to come on; and we got back in the game when George controlled a half-clearance before smashing his shot beyond their 'keeper. Game on!
Half time again so us call for increased team work, more discipline and buckets of belief; we also let Lewis have a rest and switched Kyle to left side midfield, Sean went to the right and planned to move George back to defence with Charlie going to centre mid if the team needed it.
A good start again went unrewarded before St Albans took a level of control. Whilst we never threw the towel in, our heads did drop when they got their third & fourth goals; after the third, we swapped George & Charlie as planned to change the game a little. Gradually, we got our heads back up and began to show the belief, pride & confidence we should always have in ourselves. Tom got our second with a great finish before Sean finished calmly into the far corner to setup a nervy three minutes of added time but we could quite turn-over a now-panicky St Albans - specifically their supporters, judging by the abuse the ref was now getting! Why is it some teams can't play to the spirit of the game as well as the letter of the law? Referee's will make mistakes & won;t please everyone with their decisions but they'll allow a fourth goal that, whilst over the line & unquestionably a goal in his opinion, wouldn't have been given by other "home" refs from certain teams - even at 7-a-side level....... Back here at Planet Football, the Nascot Wood U12s once again proved they have the ability, attitude & talent to beat any team they play; all they need is to believe it and then work as one team to make it happen.
WFL Starman today went to Dod for another "skipper's special"; several of the team are playing well consistently and are contenders for the award each week but Dod continues to drive the team forward through his "I'm not going to be beaten" attitude and is setting high standards for himself & his team-mates.
With my coaches head on, we need to improve our finishing & tackling throughout the team to take us on to the next level. Making that happen, along with increased fitness levels, improved teamwork, better decision-making and greater communication, will really move us forward as a team.
Next match will be at away to Omonia White on Sunday 11th November with kick-off and venue both TBC. If it is in Enfield with an 11:30AM kick-off as scheduled, then we'll need to leave Watford no later than 10:10AM to get there on time. We're already without Charlie, Kyle and probably Jake for this match so please let me know ASAP if you cannot make the game or training on Saturday morning.
First Sunday with "proper" football weather and we went back to face a very good Chorleywood team for an afternoon kick-off: would we have improved since the League Cup match four weeks ago? With Lewis C & Jake not available, it meant players out of position and a chance to experiment....
As with all good teams, we may just have stumbled across a formation & way of playing that suits us pretty well! We not only competed with Scorpions but played some very nice stuff, looked much more solid and proved dangerous going forward. Players were taking lessons from training on to the pitch and using them to make better decisions to keep possession of the ball. Work-rate from everyone was first class and there was no 'fear factor' from having been hammered a month ago. We created some good chances in the first half and could well have got to half time on level terms but two good goals in the last 7 minutes meant we went in 0-2 down whilst Kyle replaced Lewis T (a good display on his first start - well done, mate) after the first.
Half time saw us ask the boys to keep playing the same way but have even more confidence in themselves & their team. We went back out unchanged and again played very well and Tom scored the goal we (& he!) deserved on 41'. We stayed at it and kept things interesting until a three goal burst from Chorleywood took them to a 1-5 lead; just bedfore this, Lewis T came back on for Sean before Dod was forced off with a nasty (but accidental) hand injury that saw Sean back on for the last few minutes. Would we buckle? Did we heck! We got our heads up, worked hard and two more finishes by Tom saw us able to walk tall.
A quick word for our opposition: great club, a good team well managed & supported and a real pleasure to see competitive football played in the right spirit. And I thought the ref, Paul Phillips, was excellent; made the right decisions, ensured both teams knew what was happening and helped keep the game flowing.
MotM was a tough decision today as it could have gone to anyone. In the end, the lads nominated Tom & George as contenders; Tom's already been "WFL Starman" (& bagged several hats full of goals so far!), so I decided to give it to George for a very strong performance allied to some fine football.
As with every game, I learn things (both positive & negative) about our side; today's lessons were that we one again proved we are a very capable team when we play to our strengths and we are still improving with every match we play. What we need now is to improve our "decision-making" in matches, work on supporting each other and to sharpen our finishing - we may well have won this game if we'd taken a little more time in front of goal or slipped a pass to someone better-placed. I know everyone wants to score goals but you can't score if we're not making chances and that requires team work: you have to play for the team's benefit more than your own.
Next match will be at home on Sunday 4th November against St Albans Rangers with kick-off at 10:00AM; please be at Woodside by 9:15AM.
Today saw George & Lewis T available for selection for the first time; welcome to Nascot, lads!
Home again for another match likely to test us to the limit after Borehamwood beat us in our final Spring Trophy match last season. In what was probably our best start to a match, we were two up through very good goals from Liam & Dod and playing some great football as a team; passing was accurate, movement off the ball superb and the effort everyone put in was fantastic. Sadly, we seemed to lose a little self-belief as time went on which allowed 'Wood back into the game; after their first goal, we started to lose tackles we had been winning and there were signs of us beginning to panic rather than play football & keep the ball as we had in the first 15 minutes. To go in at half-time 2-3 down wasn't really a fair reflection of the way the match had gone until then; we deserved to be level at the very least so I decided to send the starting XI back out unchanged.
Another good start was negated by conceded two goals in two minutes that took the wind out of our sails and meant we resorted to less accurate passing with the ball spending more time coming back at our goal too soon after we cleared it. Despite 'Wood missing a penalty they had three attempts at and JR then slamming home a very composed penalty following a clear handball, we kept battling but couldn't recapture our earlier composure that allowed us to play football. Sean & Lewis T came on for the final 15 minutes and put in all they could just as Kyran & Kyle had done.
In the end, there was no disgrace in having lost to a capable side (if with a touch more arrogance than confidence and a readiness to "discuss" every decision) because we all put in 100% effort this week. What we must do is believe in our ability and not make the mistake of leaving the middle of the pitch empty of purple shirts. When playing against teams with a big (and he was!) midfield/forward, we must learn to keep the ball away from him to give ourselves a chance to retain possession; there's not much point in 'lumping' it straight at him all the time so go for the wings as we have players capable of winning the ball in the air and on the ground. We also need to work on our fitness - mental & physical - so we can compete for the whole match and not fade away after 45 minutes or so.
MotM was Lewis "The Cat" Cowper in goal; some good general 'keeping allied to great saves to keep the score down.
Next match on Sunday 28th October see us back to face Chorleywood Scorpions. Please note venue & time still to be confirmed (Monday 22nd Oct) but likely to be at Chorleywood Manor House grounds (entrance on the right hand side opposite the cricket pitch on the A404 between Rickmansworth & Chorleywood approx 1 mile west of J18 M25) for a 2:00PM kick-off; if so, please be there for no later than 1:40PM.
First home League game of the campaign saw us with a tough task against a Bedmond team who have always been a very strong side, well-drilled and capable of playing good football: all the things we aspire to and are more than capable of achieving. From kick-off, we were positive, looked able to complete and created two good chances before Bedmond got their first on 5 mins. Our ref is always happy to admit when he makes a mistake but, as he saw it, the Bedmond forward was onside when the ball was played and it came off a Nascot player on the way through.
Being a ref is a thankless task, particularly in the 4th season of said role coupled with coaching, managing (both of which you're not allowed to do whilst refereeing) & administering the team; perhaps it's now time for others to take the whistle on a rota basis?? We have 10 more home games to play in the League (inc Sunday 21st) where we may need to supply a ref.......
Right; back to the match! There was no doubt about their 2nd less than a minute later and they then established a one-way route to our goal. However, we did get back into the game following a nice couple of passes & JR's long chase followed by calm finish. We stayed in the game for the next 10 minutes but 3 goals in the last 5 minutes of the half sealed our fate.
Half-time saw us try to rally the guys and change from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 to improve our balance and ability to defend. Whilst we started well again and created a few half-openings, we didn't trouble their back line as much as we could so the one-way traffic resumed. Some superb work in defence by the team kept the score down until fatigue set it and we again conceded three in the last nine minutes.
Not really much to say in summary. I hope the lads will realise they need to show more attention & discipline in training so they're better-prepared for matches; we'll concentrate on first touch, getting our heads up to look for a quality, controlled pass (to lessen the 'Big Boot & Watch Where It Went' approach) so we keep the ball and learn to talk to each other during the game to help our movement, covering & teamwork whilst trying to concentrate for the entire match. As we keep saying, we are a capable unit when we do the basics well; we didn't yesterday so we gave the ball away too often and let Bedmond have too much time to construct attacks.
MotM was well-earned by Dod for a superb captain's display; tackled like a demon, ran for the whole match and never gave-up trying to make things happen.
Sunday 21st October sees us at home with a 10:00AM kick-off against Borehamwood Youth. Please be at Woodside no later than 9:20AM to setup nets, corner flags, etc.
The short trip to Hemel for a 10:00AM kick-off against Tigers was full of hope for us; having completed our WFL League Cup matches and been placed in Blue (division 3) for the coming League season, this would be a pleasant change and a good chance to gauge our improvement. With 12 available, it also meant we had a sub for only the second time this season: luxury!
With a very good line-up on paper, we took the game to Tigers from kick-off; we took a deserved lead as 8 minutes through Tom's first of the day due to some good passing, strong running off the ball and a host of near misses or good work from Tigers' keeper & defenders. We continued to press, play good football and create chances almost at will; three more goals from Tom in the 14th, 19th & 22nd minutes were just reward for his finishing skills and the team playing well. We then switched off and allowed Tigers back into the game and they capitalised with a deserved goal on 28 minutes. This stung us back into action and Sean (on since the 18th minute for Kyle) netted his first for Nascot Wood in the final minute for a 5-1 half-time score.
Half-time meant a chance to gee the boys up again and ask them to play as they had for the first 20 or so minutes: as a team! Kyle started the second half for Kyran and we started quickly with Sean's second of the match followed by Tom's fifth both inside the first five minutes of the half. With the score at 7-1 to us, I decided to test the boys by changing things round position-wise: Gibbo replaced Lewis in goal, Tom took a well-deserved rest so Kyran could come back on, Lewis went to striker with Sean and the rest of the team took shape thus: Jake, JR & Liam in defence; Dod, Kyle, Charlie, Kyran & Ryan in midfield. Pretty immediately, Lewis hooked in his first on 44' then did it again on 47'. When Tiger's got a deflected second on 55', Tom came back on for Liam for the final few minutes.
All in all, a very good performance. Loads of positives: good passing, excellent movement off the ball and some good finishing meant we won the game well. That said, we missed too many good & half-chances so we'll need to work on those at training along with learning to retain our shape & discipline whilst improving our ability to talk to each other & concentrate for the entire match as we need to work hard for each other from first to final whistle. With new players like Lewis & George itching to get involved, the future looks good right now!
MotM went to Sean for a strong performance and his first two goals for Nascot.
No confirmed fixture in the WFL next week; we may have either a friendly or our first Blue division match so details will follow once received. See you on Saturday at training.
Another afternoon kick-off meant a light lunch for the lads and a journey to Chorleywood for the first time; shame about the traffic!! With Ryan having to miss the game through injury, we were already down to 10 fit players against a Wood team that handed us a lesson last season with a heavy 1-6 home defeat in our first ever 11-a-side fixture. how would we compare against last year's performance?
On a compact pitch, we managed to compete and stay in the game; with Gibbo marshalling & encouraging his fellow defenders extremely well & Lewis having a super game between the sticks, we even managed to play some nice stuff to engineer some not-quite-half chances for Tom up front. Eventually, Scorpions quick football, ability to keep the ball & extra man told as we conceded four goals in the last 9 minutes of the first half. The team were asked to talk to each other more, try to control & pass the ball (as they had done at Bushey last Sunday), retain our shape & discipline and mark men at set pieces. Out we went with heads up but the Scorpions hit us for an early fifth before Tom chased-down a couple of good passes & early through ball to finish classily for 1-5. Sadly, this seemed to sting the Scorpions into action and, despite a few breaks, it was pretty much one-way traffic as they began to control the match; great determination from Dod kept us all fighting until Tom latched onto a great pass from Gibbo to notch his second of the game.
From my perspective as linesman, coach & manager, there were some very good individual performances; Dod & Tom battled tenaciously for everything, Gibbo was by far the most vocal player on the pitch & showed an ability to control his team mates and the rest of the lads gave their all for the cause. With the parent's vote for the WFL Star Man tied between Tom & Dod, I decided to award it to Lewis in goal; he kept us in the game & the score well below what it may have been through some great saves, intelligent work coming off his line and his superb kicking gave their centre backs a thorough working over.
Next Sunday (7th October) sees us journey to Hemel Aces Tigers at Belswains School, Barnfield, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9QJ for a Herts County Cup match. Neither kick-off time or venue confirmed (now Wednesday 3rd at 0830) but their web page (Hemel Aces) shows kick-off as 0930 at Belswains School, which will mean leaving Watford at 0840 latest - ouch!.
Something of a local derby for us so a short trip to Bushey's pitch on a pleasant afternoon held lots of promise for us after yesterday's battling display whilst out-numbered against Gadeside. Two evenly-matched teams set out to play the game in the right spirit and to play some football; with Dod back in midfield and Gibbo at centre half, we looked pretty strong and were able to break-up the Hawks' attacks whilst starting our own from deep. Some great headers from all the back line & midfielders really set the standard and we pushed-on from there. Lewis was called into action and made some good blocks as well as racing off his line to gather loose balls; the only surprise was a great finish from Tom after a good move was or only reward in the first half.
The plan was "same again" for the second period and Dod scored an excellent goal in the first minute to increase our lead and, whilst Hawks got forward whenever they could, our defensive work was first class. Tom notched his second from another fine pass before JR finished our scoring to make the game safe. About the only disappointment was our berk of a linesman (i.e. me!) urging the lads not to concede and give Lewis a clean sheet; kiss of death as Hawks crashed home a great goal in the second minute of added time. Oh well: lesson learned!! A great game by both sides; well referreed and played mainly in the right spirit with the main difference being our determination to play as a team & our finishing skills.
This was a superb team effort with everyone contributing all they had and then a bit more to the cause. There were a number of WFL "Star man" candidates but the award went to Charlie; he worked really hard and that included being brave enough to take 10 minutes out in the second half with a mild asthma attack and even more courage to come back to help his team.
Next Sunday (30th Sept) sees us make another short trip to Chorleywood for what is now a 1:00PM kick off (not 2:00PM) for our final League Cup group I match.
A Challenge Cup match when you have a full squad is always going to be difficult against a team from last season's U11 Red (first) division even if they are in the process of rebuilding but when you only have nine players available, it gets even tougher! Consequently, I decided to give Lewis a break from 'keeping and let him have a run-out up front whilst trying some of the lads in less familiar positions in case we have to do so during a game later in the season.
Overall, I was really pleased with the whole performance; we tackled well, tried to get to the ball first and even played some nice football at times. Gadeside were always likely to make their two man advantage tell (especially with a number of subs on the sidelines) but we really stuck at this and battled right to the end; the team worked hard to restrict Gadeside to long-range efforts that Gibbo dealt well with but Gadeside showed their undoubted class at times. It's just possible they all wanted to score in the second half and so they over-played at times which helped us stay in the game. Indeed, after a tough first half, we came back out and "lost" the second period by just 1-3 whilst making a few half-chances as well. Credit goes to all the lads but JR narrowly pipped the rest to the WFL "Star man" award.
The spirit & teamwork shown in this match will really help us over the rest of the season.
Our first match of the season saw a superb fighting display from the U12s against a team that beat us 0-6 in a friendly last season. We played some good football at times, were strong in the tackle and worked really hard for each other throughout the game. After going behind on 3 mins, we picked ourselves up and stayed in the game through teamwork (and good work from Lewis in goal) before a great finish from Tom on 22 mins made it level. However, Colney broke away to regain the lead just a minute later but a fabulous through ball from Liam set Tom away on 27 mins; he still had lots to do to score and hit a fantastic curling shot beyond their 'keeper to send us to half-time at 2-2.
The second half saw Colney pushing hard from the kick-off but we weathered the storm and got back into the game. We were rewarded on 47 mins when JR burst into the box and was pushed from behind; he dispatched the penalty with aplomb for a 3-2 Nascot lead. A series of substitutions through injury followed that may have disrupted our rhythm and two goals in three minutes by Colney meant we went home with no points but heads high. The supporters were brilliant as well and have been asked to nominate the MotM (now required by the WFL) rather than me make a decision; this week, Lewis & Dod had great games but the vote went to Tom for his hard work, great running and two classy finishes.
We definitely deserved at least a point today and proved to ourselves that we can compete, we can play and we do enjoy our football; last season was incredibly tough in a hugely competitive U11 White division - we were probably at least one division above our true level - so we have to keep battling in this season's matches but the attitude, skill & team spirit are all there.Come on!