U12 TIGERS GROWL BUT EAGLES SWOOP FOR VICTORY
Tigers impress but Eagles’ second half is too good
Tigers put in a great first half performance but three second half minutes put Windsor in an unassailable position. Much of the opening half hour was evenly balanced: the visitors had a very quick attack and two big, composed defenders, but they struggled against Tigers’ industrious midfield and Gabriel’s pace. Toby and Joe , whilst not necessarily picking off the first and second balls, were able to scramble well enough and did a fine job of pushing the Eagles away from goal and forcing them in to shooting far too quickly. Matt was his usual calm self at the back, easily smothering anything on target. Further forward, Sam was troubling his marker and John’s skill on the ball was creating space for Hayden and George. Frazer was stepping in to nick through balls and set Gabriel away in front of him. So it was somewhat disappointing when Windsor grabbed a twelfth minute lead, breaking down the inside left channel and beating Matt low down to his right. Nevertheless, Tigers were unbowed and within a minute a lovely move through the midfield found Gabe breaking into the penalty area and a burst of pace and exquisite finish levelled the scores.
Ilyas and Rufus now joined the fray and Ilyas showed a previously unseen physicality, pressurising Windsor's defenders to keep Hearts in the visitors’ territory. Half time arrived with Tigers looking comfortable and Coach Wallis very pleased with the 30 minute performance. Sadly, it then unravelled.
Within seconds of the restart , Windsor ripped through the Tigers’ defence and charged in to the lead. Within seconds of the restart, Windsor ripped through the Tigers’ defence and charged into a two goal league. As a rout now looked on the cards, fortunately Rufus grew into the game and began to dominate and block Windsor’s breaks down their right. But further in field Tigers seemed to be running out of gas. Hayden and Gabe were not receiving any ball due to George and Frazer being over run in midfield. A fourth Windsor goal on 36 minutes was compounded a minute later by Matt leaving the field with a head injury after a six-yard box collision. George took over the gloves proving himself to be an able deputy, pulling off several good saves and showing great bravery to take on the occasional one v one. John’s return to midfield created an escape route out of the Tigers half and possibly the best move of the whole match. Rufus robbed an opponent on the edge of his box , slipped a pass to Frazer who found John on the edge of the centre circle. Taking the ball left, John returned the ball to Rufus out wide, Rufus found Hayden and his lovely through-ball saw Gabriel’s shot deflected for a corner. Sadly, that was as close as Tigers were to come in the second half, whilst Eagles nicked a fifth.
As so often in this disappointing season, Tigers were not as far off the pace as the score would suggest. Improved physicality, particularly of Sam and Ilyas, much better line holding by Joe and Toby and the industriousness of Frazer and Hayden definitely impresses. Perhaps the squad has been undone by a lack of team work in between fixtures and, to various degrees, a lack of speed and fitness. The boys continue to enjoy themselves, and that’s all that matters.