Ligers, looking to bounce back from two heavy defeats, found themselves undone by the speed and physicality of high flying Falcons. Having seen the vandalised goalposts resurrected prior to kick off, Ligers started the match at blistering pace. A skillfully developed attack down the left flank buoyed the home crowd but the muscular defending that eventually halted the move was a marker for the way the game was to develop. It did look like Ligers had the ability to build towards a victory with clever passing and good movement, particularly down that left side, causing all kinds of disarray in the visitors’ ranks. On 8 minutes and against the run of play, Falcons found an outlet ball, launching it over midfield towards Sam Bates’ area on the right. The Falcons chaser unfortunately whizzed by Sam and headed towards the Ligers goal. Matthew Barrett rushed out to close down the threat but the Falcon finished well from some 25yards to put his team ahead.
You could see Ligers heads droop at the unexpected reverse. They did manage to pull their way back into the contest and for the most part, the teams were evenly matched. But the Pangbourne Youth were much more robust in their challenges, winning first and second balls and bundling Ligers runners out of possession. It had the effect of making Ligers play the ball far too quickly, often without taking a touch to control a bobbling ball or even actually looking to see where teammates were. Up front, Ligers struggled to seriously test the Falcons’ keeper; at the back, Ligers’ lack of pace too often left their keeper rushing out to thwart Falcons sweeping in unopposed. Two further goals either side of half-time put the game beyond the reach of the home side, although the last quarter of an hour saw Ligers mounting wave upon wave of attacks. The final product just wasn’t there.
Ligers are looking at a tough season if they can’t match the more mature approach of their Div 4 opponents. Certainly the last three games have shown a marked divide in physicality and speed between Ligers and their vanquishers. That’s going to be difficult to overturn immediately, but control, communication and teamwork would lessen those short-comings.
Next week, bottom of the table Reeves Rangers come to the Riverside. It’s as good a time as any to turn things around.