Football League : |
Home Ground :
|West Herts - Division 2
Link to League table
Queens School (North Side),
Aldenham Road, Bushey,
Hertfordshire, WD23 2TY
Link to Home Ground
|6th Sept||Acorn Raiders||League||2-1 Lost|
|13th Sept||Maclay White||League||1-1 Draw|
|20th Sept||Harpenden Falcons||League||2-1 Lost|
|4th Oct||Chorleywood Lions||League||8-1 Lost|
|11th Oct||Tring Tornadoes||League||5-1 Lost|
|18th Oct||No Match|
|1st Nov||Harpenden Falcons||League Cup||2-1 Win|
|8th Nov||Maclay Blue||West Herts League, League Cup group 1 (match 2 of 3)||3-4 Loss|
|13th Dec||Hemel Town||West Herts League||2-3 Loss|
|24th Jan||Comets White||West Herts League, Challenge Cup round 1||3-2 Win|
|7th Feb||Hemel Hempstead Town Youth White||U14 Challenge Cup round 2||3-4 Loss|
|7th Mar||M1:Maclay White||West Herts League, division 2||2-2|
|7th Mar||M2:Maclay White||West Herts League, division 2||1-1|
|14th Mar||M1:Harpenden Falcons||West Herts League, division 2||0-0|
|14th Mar||M2:Harpenden Falcons||West Herts League, division 2||0-0|
A beautiful Mother’s Day saw us travel to Harpenden for our second double-header against another well-matched opponent. With John B, Simon & Ryan not available, the thirteen Nascot lads would acquit themselves well over the two matches.
We didn’t really do ourselves justice in the first match but a clean sheet is always welcome; to achieve it against a powerful team was ultimately a good guide to how far we’ve progressed in recent weeks despite the weather-induced gaps. The balance of the team means some players have changed position recently but the half time summary in match one left the boys in no doubt they had to up their game in all areas. They did this during the second half and came through a tough test on what is arguably the best football pitch we’ve played on this season.
Match two saw us ask for even more effort and we found both third & fourth gears at times; we kept the ball well, played better football and stayed strong physically in both halves. I felt we looked fitter & stronger the longer the match progressed and probably deserved more than a draw but a second clean sheet meant we hit our longest run of unbeaten matches in our history so that’s not to be under-estimated.
Credit to Paul’s Falcons; they’re a strong & able side who play the game competitively within the rules & spirit of football. And I felt Layne (ref) kept the game under control well and only stopped play where necessary.
Decided to give-up home advantage to play this double header at Maclay’s ground as I didn’t know how Queens’ would play after two U18 matches before us and it means we could kick-off earlier. With Kyran & Jamie having left (good luck to you, gents: don’t give up on football as you’re both good players); Charlie not avail, Ryan injured and Jake doing his best to make the second match after TKD, I decided to switch to a 4-5-1 formation against a strong Maclay White team who play good football in the right spirit.
The first match was very competitive & entertaining; Nascot started brightly & looked “up for it” but Maclay hit us with a goal on 10 minutes to take some of the wind out of our sails and they probably shaded the first half which ended 0-1 thanks to Lew saving yet another penalty. With Jake having made if from England TKD training, we were able to use three subs at half time and, although, Nascot spirits dropped a little lower just after the restart when Maclay netted on 22 minutes, the lads showed great spirit, attitude and skill to get themselves back into the match through some nice football & created more going forward as a result. When Jake was up-ended in the area for a penalty with around 10 minutes to play but mis-kicked his effort, I wondered how the lads would react; superbly was the answer. We went for it and got one back with two minutes left when Jake volleyed an outstanding shot into the far corner of the goal from the right-hand touchline. As time slipped by, the lads pressed, won a corner
and JR crashed home the loose ball with only second left for what felt a deserved equaliser.
The “between the matches” chat was to stay strong, keep playing the ball, stay competitive and enjoy the remaining game.
The second match saw us switch from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 to occupy the Maclay defenders some more and it initially looked like it was working very well until I made a call for a short goal-kick from Lew to Chris B which didn’t work and the ball nestled in the back of our net on 7 minutes. I wondered how we might react and was pleased with the result: focus, spirit & attitude were all excellent. Within three minutes, we were level form an unusual (if not unexpected!) source when Lew belted a drop kick from his area and the bounce took it over Maclay’s 2nd keeper of the day: cue ecstatic celebrations for the Purple’n’Black Barmy Army! Lew now has two goals from drop kicks and it gave us an extra swagger for the remainder of the half. The second half ebbed & flowed with neither side really dominating play as the other wouldn’t let them.
Thanks to Dave of Maclay for reffing both matches and the Maclay team for making it an entertaining game; on balance, two draws were a decent reflection of both team’s commitment & skill levels.
From a manager’s perspective, I was pleased with our fitness levels, competitive edge, improvement in team work and our desire, attitude & confidence in each other. We do need to work on our finishing, composure around the opponent’s penalty box, quality when passing the ball, vision to find team-mates in better positions, and communication on the pitch. Every player can be proud of their performance yesterday; some played in positions they were not used to but looked like they’d been there for years.
Blimey – what a game! With Lewis C still not available following his recent operation plus Ryan, Charlie & Kryan all not available, we lined-up against a Hemel Whites team that beat us 2-3 in the League just before Christmas. We made some positional changes based on tactical decisions before the game and hoped for a competitive performance. Whites started faster, moving the ball well; to combat their big lad up front, we switched full backs to give Liam a man-to-man role against him and that seemed to nullify his threat somewhat. Hemel were the better team for most of the 15 minutes and earned their 0-2 lead. However, this galvanised the Nascot lads to compete and we pulled a goal back through Tom S’s finish following some quick & intelligent passing. I felt we shaded the rest of the half and went close on several occasions; the most notable being Jake’s superb free kick which their ‘keeper saved well. Just before the half finished, Nick was subbed through injury to be replaced by Simon.
Half time saw Jamie & Jon E make way for Craig & Lew T; the lads took the field with one thing in mind: we’re still in the game & have the talent, ability & attitude to win it if we play as a team.
The second half was even better than the first! The football played by both sides was breath-taking at times and played in the right spirit. I felt we created better chances & worked their ‘keeper but John B in his first game in goal for us was keeping us in it with some great stops. One move down our left side started by Liam, involving Tom F & Tom S nearly got us level and there were a few other good chances were we should have equalised. It looked like a 1-2 defeat was on the cards until a huge slice of luck fell our way in the final 30 seconds as one of their defenders unfortunately sliced an interception over his own ‘keeper.
Now we has extra time to think about. The first half ebbed & flowed in both directions as both teams fought to gain control. After the first period ended, we swapped Tom F, Craig & Lew T for Nick, Jamie & Jon E and we ‘tweaked’ positions to give Hemel something different to think about; it looked like it worked as Simon crashed home a chance in the first minute of the second period to give us the lead! Hemel came back at us and two goals in the 4th & 6th minutes of the period put them back in front. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the equaliser to take us to penalties.
Credit to Paul’s team; they gave us a great game. Hopefully will go on to win it so we can say we lost to the best team in the competition!
Phil the ref proved the best ref’s are often “not noticed”; he refereed sensibly, effectively and only stopped when necessary .Great performance, fella!
What lesson are there for us? Well, all positive! We have good fitness & energy levels, play great football, never give up and are a credit to family, Club & ourselves. I can’t fault anyone for application, attitude & competitiveness today. The only really minor area I can suggest improvement in is to show more quality, confidence and belief in & around the opponent’s penalty area when we get chances to shoot or cross: you don’t necessarily have to belt the maker’s name off the ball!
Now we have to build on today’s outstanding performance when we play Hemel again in the League.
The first competitive match since before Christmas saw us travel play Comets in the U14 Challenge Cup (round 1) without Lewis C, Jon E or Kyran being available. The 15 man quad arrived for the 12:30PM meet but the planned 1:00PM kick-off slipped around 30 minutes due to the previous match over-running (possibly through extra time). We lined-up in a 3-5-2 formation with the [plan being to compete well, enjoy our football & win the match in normal time to prevent the fun & games of penalties.
On a sloping & sticky pitch, both teams did exceptionally well to play good football with Nascot Wood being the more productive in terms of creating scoring chances; it was beginning to look like we may have to spend the next training sessions on finishing before a scramble in the Comets box lead to Simon slamming home the loose ball for a 1-0 lead on just before the 15th minute. Jamie replace Chris after 20 minutes & Nascot continued to create with several decent & half-chances going begging before Simon strode in from the right and hit a superb shot into the far corner in the 32nd minute.
Half time was nice change this week as the lads were on good form; we needed to take note of any subs Comets made and remember we were now playing up the hill & needed to get to the ball first, defend all over the pitch and be committed, confident & concentrate.
Comets started very brightly but we competed well and continued to make chances when we passed the ball simply, accurately & with quality. Charlie as stand-in ‘keeper made a superb stop at the centre-forward’s feet to preserve our lead but had no chance a few minutes later when he broke free & finished well. At 1-2, Comets were even more committed and we played most of our football on the back foot and it wasn’t any less than they deserved when they equalised with around 6 minutes left of normal time. Now was when we needed to respond - and respond we did inside a minute! A good Comets attack was broken-up on our left, passes interchanged well to set Jack Richards free for a fantastic curling effort to re-take the lead. The final minutes were exciting if tense before Nascot ran out winners.
The team played well together, showed confidence and the four subs all got on and allowed legs to remain fresh by making other changes form the starting line-up. Our challenge now is to take this form into this Sunday’s away League match at Chorleywood and setup a winning second half of the season.
Well done to all 15 players & our band of supporters!
Our second of three League Cup group matches saw us host Maclay Blue of division 3 & hoping to build on last week’s first win of the season. Taking a 16 strong squad to the game & a plan to have two different starting line-ups may have proved a mistake on my part as we started slightly nervously and without the fluid passing & movement of last week. We struggled to create chances and the lads left too much space between each other so there was little support or simple pass option. We did create a few chances but went in 0-2 down at half-time following two goals in the last three minutes of the half.
The interval saw the “Hairdryer” in use.....
Second half saw the require improvement in terms of support, passing & movement and we started to create chances; some great defending & ‘keeping from Maclay kept us at bay whilst they threatened in attack. However, we were making a game of it and got a deserved goal back on 45 mins with a fine finish from Jack Richards but then conceded a third just three mins later. The guys kept working hard and notched our second of the game through Chris Boughton on 62 mins; this time we conceded within one minute to go 2-4 behind but a right side corner by Jake was powerfully headed home by Jack Richards on 68 mins.
I lost count of the half-chances (& better) we didn’t finish as well as hitting the woodwork three or four times in the second half but credit to Maclay; they had some great players in their team and earned their victory.
We now need to kick-on and play with belief, confidence & quality for the rest of the season as we can do it when we put our minds to it; we just need to talk to each other, think about movement & all the things we do well in training.
Our opening match of the League Cup campaign saw us host Harpenden Falcons; following the very close League match a few weeks back, this would be a strong test – especially given the wind & rain lashing down on Watford! With Colin kindly reffing & Owen taking the lino’s flag, we kicked-off with instructions to play with confidence, strength and quality. Seems this stuck in the lad’s minds as we played some very, very good football in a 3-5-2 formation with players in unfamiliar positions; this was a conscious decision to see what options we have in the squad.
Several times we moved the ball accurately, early & with the quality required to engineer good positions; this was possible as the lads seemed to have more confidence. Our finishing needs work but that’s an end product that we can only deliver if the other 90% is right – and we went a long way to making that possible today. Chris’s excellent left wing corner curled in to the near post gave us a lead that we held until half-time.
Second half saw five changes to increase competition for places; this didn’t quite work in a 3-5-2 formation so we switched to 4-4-2 to counter Falcons attacking strengths. This made the 11 on the pitch look better balanced and we started to compete more. After conceding a deserved equaliser and being “under the cosh” for a while, we gradually got back in to the match and I felt we deserved Tom’s composed & accurate lob from the edge of the box to take the lead again with around 10 minutes to go.
Overall, the team did enough to deserve their win. For me, the key word in that statement is “team”: this is a team that can do better than they think if they continue to believe in themselves and give me selection headaches all over the pitch. Enjoy the win, lads; hopefully, many more to follow!
With myself in quarantine through swine ‘flu, I relied on Tyran, Gary, Colin & Neil to sort-out training & match day: thanks, gents. From what I’ve heard back, the team played some excellent football in the first 15 minutes or so and took a deserved lead through Jake’s first goal of the season. The team kept trying but, with a few players out of position & missing Lew C with his ankle injury, were unable to keep that going for all 70 minutes. A valiant try but hopefully we can get some fluidity back into our play, get more communication going and start winning some matches!
Loosing Lewis Cowper to a suspected broken ankle on Friday meant we lost a key part of our ‘spine’ and this meant playing some of the lads out of their preferred position. Some of the football we played was very good or better but we struggled to contain a powerful & competitive Lions outfit. Thanks to Craig & Gibbo for donning the ‘keeper’s shirt & glove for a half each; I felt they did really well and weren’t at fault for any of the goals.
In general, this goes down as a blip in our early season form; the squad need to pull together, work hard in training, improve the basics (communication, quality of pass, use time on the ball, retaining possession, etc) and that will bring their confidence levels back up. The boys really need to believe in themselves; they are all good players with talent & ability but need to develop that collective hunger to win matches.
Another glorious September day saw us make our home debut at Queens’ school; with a squad of 18 this season, this was the first week when the “15 match squad maximum” was used with Charlie not available, that mean Jamie & Simon were rested. We lined-up with Lew C in goal; Ryan, Gibbo (captain) & Liam at the back; Craig, Jack, Nick, Chris & Kyran in midfield and Tom S & Lew T up front. Our subs were Jake, Jon E, John B & Tom F. With me refereeing, Gary & Tyran kindly took charge of the subs bench and Neil ran the line.
Nascot kicked-off and the early indications were the two team were well-matched & a competitive match on the cards. Both side battled well, used what time they had on the ball and went forward at every opportunity. The half was evenly-contested; a change in the 17th minute to bring Tom F on for Lew T and Jake on for Craig seemed to spark Nascot to greater heights and we played even better; that lead to Tom S’s 3rd of the season with a neat finish following good work through the middle to allow Jake time for a final pass. Nascot were slightly on top at this stage but not able to find the final pass or hit the target accurately; both keepers & defences were kept busy and refused to let anyone passed. The matched ebbed & flowed right up until the last kick of the half when Nascot failed to deal properly with a corner, a scramble followed & Harpenden got a deserved equaliser.
Half-time saw the usual advice handed-out: talk, use the time, pass with more quality and hit the target when able to shoot. We also decided to use the subs regularly to keep us on our toes & not too tired as the weather was warming-up nicely.
If anything, the second half was better than the first; neither side was prepared to sit back & watch so the football was end-to-end, competitive and played in the right spirit. Great saves, good moves, tackles, passes, heading – it was all on show! Harpenden scored a great second goal on the break and began to look even more dangerous as a result. However, Nascot dug-in, battled hard all over the pitch and created numerous good chances: we hit the woodwork, forced their ‘keeper into a series of fine stops and moved the ball around well – but without converting our better opportunities. In the last few minutes, a flurry of Nascot attacks saw an accidental handball in the box, one corner almost forced home and with the final corner of the match, Lew C almost hit a super volley but it rose over the bar.
Credit to Paul’s Harpenden team: they’re a great bunch who play the game well & in the right spirit.
What can we take away from today? There’s not that much to improve on but we simply must talk more to help & encourage each other on the pitch and use the time we have available to better effect. That and taking a little more time & composure in front of goal to hit the corners of the goal and not shoot at the ‘keeper! It really was a great performance and it’s clear the lads are enjoying their football in a competitive League this season.
A straight-forward trip to Berkhamsted for a match against Maclay; we travelled with 13 again but a different-looking set of personnel meant some playing out of position against a big Maclay side. On a great pitch in pretty good conditions, it turned into a very good match with both sides playing some fine stuff in the right spirit and wanting to win the match. We changed to a 4-4-2 setup to help the lads who were playing out of position; we looked well balanced and able to support each other as hoped. Once again, a keenly-fought first period saw us go one behind but Tom replaced Lew T just after the goal and a good move through the middle ended with him sweeping the ball home inside the box for the equaliser.
The half-time talk was again fairly standard: good start, great effort & energy but still need to talk more & to use what time was available to play the ball with more quality.
The second half was perhaps a little scrappier than the first due to a pick-up in the breeze but both team again played football with some style; chances were being created at both ends & both team were getting the ball forward quickly to keep the pressure on the defences. Several “nearly moments” in both penalty boxes meant the match finished even – probably the best outcome in fairness!
Key performers for us were Lew C back between the sticks; a great display from Simon dropping to centre back for most of the match; Chris looks like he will be a very good player for us and good debuts from Craig & Nick. The rest of the lads did very well to keep a good Maclay side at bay. Thanks also to Colin for running the line & Gary for warming the lads up before the match.