Malmesbury Eagles v Lydiard Millicent 30th Nov 2014

What a game it was today. The Eagles were playing top of the table Lydiard Millicent, so it promised to be a real challenge. The game was played away from home on a lovely sunny afternoon and Lydiard kicked off.

Straight away you could see that the opposition were good. They started playing attractive passing football and were on top for the first 10 minutes. Ben, Mike, Toby and James at the back had to put in a number of good tackles and the team were working hard to get the ball. The Eagles started to bounce back though. All of the boys started to put in some good challenges, winning the ball and attacking Lydiard in turn. Ben went just wide with a free kick and the midfield of Jamie, Charlie and Gabriel started to out-compete the Lydiard players and stifle their passing game.

James then used more of a rugby tackle than football tackle to stop their fast striker and it was a penalty to Lydiard – the penalty was hit over the bar and the Eagles breathed a sigh of relief. It was a nicely balanced match. It took a wonderful goal to break the deadlock – good skill and accurate passing from Gabriel and Charlie fed the ball to Jamie who dazzled two defenders with his skills before striking the ball into the bottom corner, a lovely goal. The Eagles were looking the stronger team now – they were winning the 50:50 balls and putting Lydiard on the back foot.

Another nice passing move finished with Jamie free on the far post and he slotted home a second to put the Eagles 2-0 up and looking good. They were looking comfortable right until the Lydiard striker showed why they were such a dangerous team – he latched onto a long through ball, beat a defender before lashing the ball into the top right corner, giving Ethan in goal no chance of stopping it – 2-1 and the game was in the balance again.

Charlie then quite simply out muscled a defender to a through pass and showed great determination to fire in a shot from a difficult angle and put the Eagles two goals ahead again, 3-1. It was approaching half time and the chances were coming regularly now. Lydiard had pace up front though and the Eagles defence was getting caught out of position at times. A long clearance cleared the last line of defenders who had drifted too far from the Lydiard striker – he was then away running at goal. He made no mistake and drew the score back to 3-2 in time for the half time whistle. Frantic stuff, but the Eagles deserved their lead.
The second half saw Jamie move into goal. Callum was back on the pitch after being hit by the ball and Ethan was now playing on the left side. Lydiard had the benefit of the slope in the second half and immediately went on the attack. The Eagles were adjusting to the half time changes and were forced into desperate defending. Lydiard hit the bar and applied the pressure relentlessly. Kyle then suffered an injury and had to come off the field. The defence were reeling and eventually the equaliser came, with a good strike from a Lydiard player. 3-3 and Lydiard were most definitely in the driving seat.

The Eagles absorbed this passage of play with great determination and effort. Mike was having a great game, defending like a Trojan at the back, and all of the team were tackling hard and attempting to break up Lydiard’s passing game again. Ben had a good shot on goal saved and Charlie put a great cross through to Ethan, but the ball was bobbling and he couldn’t take the chance to score. Lydiard then missed a chance right in front of goal and at this stage I think it is fair to say that the Malmesbury parents were all willing the referee to blow for full time as a draw looked fair reward.

And then the final move of the game… Charlie played a through ball to Gabriel who had got behind the Lydiard defence near the half way line. Gabriel was away, running nearly a third of the length of the pitch with the Lydiard defence in hot pursuit. The goalkeeper came out to meet Gabriel but the ball favoured his left side, Gabriel though is right footed. No problem, a firm strike with the outside of the foot and the ball went perfectly into the far corner of the net. As the team celebrated the referee blew the full time whistle and the Eagles had won with the last kick of the match. What a way to beat one of the top teams in the division!

It had been a great game to watch and all of the team had played an important part in this victory. At the back Ben, James and Mike had tackled and battled relentlessly whilst Toby had run the defence and cleared the lines on many occasions. Charlie, Gabriel and Jamie had had Lydiard in disarray at times, whilst Callum, Kyle and Ethan had played with skill and determination throughout. The team should be very proud of their performance today, the parents watching nearly had heart attacks in all the excitement, so very well done.

Match Report by: Phil