Grenadier's Tie Kingwood
By Mike Larkin
This weekʼs game was against one of our tougher opponents, a young Kingwood team with strong midfield play and high work rate. An early start time, one hour lost to time change, and playing on the brick like surface of field 17 appeared to make the task a little more challenging. However, all players were dressed and ready for the kickoff with minutes to spare. That is more than could be said for our opponents who had a little trouble getting the team together for the 9:00 am start. We waited a few minutes and they had enough players show to make a game.
We started with our usual lackluster pace and had a hard time breaking down their midfield, despite the fact they only had 10 players. They kept the midfield packed so that we could not get many good thru balls to the forwards. The first 15 minutes they played hard and limited our attempts at goal. There were a few very good chances, but we failed to convert. Bayron seemed to have the touch of a bricklayer and missed a few opportunities one v. one with the keeper. Eventually, they had 2 more players show to give them a full side with one sub. Once they got a full squad the game became much more even and both teams saw chances bounce of the post and the crossbar. Their midfield play continued to get stronger thru the first half and we spent a lot of time defending our goal. By the end of the half score was tied 0 – 0.
In a brilliant coaching move, Yanche chose to have Flaco and Fernando play in the central midfield to counter their youth and energy. Flacoʼs quickness and creativity along with Fernandoʼs stout play and sound ball distribution gave us more control of the midfield. We began to connect better thru the midfield to the forwards and played much of the first 20 minutes in their half of the field. The goal we desperately needed finally came when Ned received the ball on the right side of the goal and crossed a ball over to an unmarked Flaco streaking in from his midfield position unmarked. He calmly gathered the ball and buried it, making it 1 – 0 to the good guys. Minutes later we had another beautiful chance from the same spot when Fernando crossed to a wide open Ned on the opposite side of the goal. Ned sent a beautiful header toward the opposite side of the net, but was denied when the keeper just got a pinky on the ball to send it wide. This seemed to wake their side and they upped the intensity for the final 15 minutes. We were soon in a defensive shell trying to withstand their repeated attempts to score the tying goal. With about 5 minutes remaining in the game they finally managed to get the break that they had been trying to get by keeping their forward on Stevie Spencerʼs shoulder for most of the game. A fluke header over Stevie and Todd sent their forward alone against Fernando and he easily finished with a low shot into the net.
Everyone played hard throughout the match and several people deserve recognition. Flaco and Fernando in the midfield during the second half really caused problems and gave us some confidence that we could turn the match. Fernando Prado in goal recognized early that Kingwood would be trying to play balls over the top and kept a high line to help Stevie and Todd keep their speedy forward under control. Osman for his continual physical battle with their outside midfielder. He was a douche that hacked at ankles and shins for most of the game until Osman decided he would give him a taste of his own medicine and he didnʼt like it. And finally, Stevie Spencer for taking on the role of sweeper in the absence of Alex. Not a role he normally plays, but he managed to limit Kingwood to just one goal for his first time starting at sweeper.