A nice evening at English Park saw FC Twenty take on title challengers Cashmere Technical. Cashmere needed a win to ensure that they were still in the title hunt come the last round of the season. It was the experienced Cashmere Technical side vs a youthful FC Twenty 11 side which Cashmere ultimately pipped 2-1 winners.
FC Twenty 11 lined up in a 4231 formation with 6 players under the age of 21. The backline that shielded goalkeeper, Daly, consisted of right back Anton Smith, the skipper Goodhall, #3 and Vannoort at left back. Two solid holding midfielders in Caitlow and Paul kept their position and rarely advanced forward leaving the attacking quartet to do their job. Starlet playmaker Clark played ‘in the hole’ as a 10 with a very fast rotating three in front of him which included Callum Smith, Bergin and promising young forward Richards.
Cashmere Technical remained in their regular 433 but saw some personnel changes from what would be their regular starting 11. Knight was in goal with the Schwarz brothers pairing in central defence. Right back was Field who held his position and on the left side of defence was Boys who was more adventurous going forward. The midfield three had Halligan as the deep lying distributor, Kelly slightly ahead of him and Matthysen the most advanced of the three who Cashmere tended to attack through. Matthysen, a natural winger, played as an attacking midfielder with license to roam about moving out wide or into the channels to good effect. Thoms started as the right winger and played quite a traditional winger role by keeping width, allowing the channels to open up for Matthysen to exploit. When Thoms did tuck in, Matthysen could end up out wide which created attacking variance. McDonald started out on the left, and White started up top as the 9, moving into channels.
Lineups (apologies to FC Twenty 11’s centre back as I could not source his name)
1st half saw a very shaky and nervous FC Twenty 11 side that was very rushed. They lacked composure at the back and in the midfield resulting in poor decision making. They would hold on to the ball when they should have played it and played it when they had more time and space. This resulted in high turnovers from the defence who tended to kick it long and the holding midfielders got dispossessed too easily resulting in some scrappy midfielder play. It looked like a side which was missing a key leader, a player to keep the ball and recycle it, perhaps they missed Canterbury Dragon, Sean Morris. Clark, who played as the 10 was very lively however, getting on the ball and trying to make things happen but most of the time the ball struggled to get to him. The front 3 worked hard and showed signs of unsettling Cashmere’s build-up play but in possession would fail at beating their man and getting any shot away. It took 20 minutes for FC Twenty 11 to finally get their first shot which came from Richards. Cashmere Technical had the work rate and had the fitness of an elite side, defending with 10 players at all times compared to FC’s 8 which you just cannot afford to do against a side like Cashmere Technical. It was a game of two halves for FC though, as they came to life in the 2nd half.
Cashmere Technical struggle to make their attacks count
It was a frustrating game for Cashmere Technical for both their players and their supporters, constantly watching chances go to waste. Creating perhaps no clear-cut chances in the first half, they did manage to create a couple of half chances, but that was it. Their 1st half goal came from a free kick sent in from Boys which resulted in an own goal from a FC Twenty 11 defender. But attacks constantly being over run out of play and multiple chances went a miss and it was a rare off day for all time MPL leading scorer Michael White. This led to Tom Schwarz start attacking more, seeing him overlap the left flank and even pop up in the opposition box at times.
The youngster did very well in the midfield for FC Twenty 11, getting on the ball as much as he could and never shy of taking on players and started the attacks for FC. His agility and ball control allowed him to skip past even the most physical and best tacklers in the league which were up against him. Majority of what FC Twenty 11 did was through Clark, he just lacked a killer ball at times or did not have an end product ahead of him. Along with his technical ability he seemed to have a good work rate, helping defend and could often been seen deeper than the two holding midfielders in his team. He did at times take too many touches and hold the ball longer than need but has plenty of potential.
FC’s 2nd half press
This, in my eyes, was the game changer. From the go they were pressing aggressively and much more cohesively than in the first half. The pace of FC’s front line had Cashmere’s defence and deep midfield very unsettled which led to some great chances from FC. Halligan was a victim of this press as he was substituted for Ogilvie in the 52nd minute. FC grew in confidence, especially Richards, and it started to look like a more even game. Richards was very lively in the 2nd half, constantly on the move up top making some clever runs even if he still struggled 1 vs 1 against Boys who was unbeatable. Ogilvie managed to sure things up in midfield as Cashmere started to get back into the game after the hour mark. But FC Twenty 11 then popped up with the equaliser in the 70th minute as Richard cut in on his right foot and hit a shot that Knight could only deflect to Callum Smith’s substitute, Michael White (of FC) to tap home to make it 1-1. Much to the admiration of Ferrymead Bays FC players sitting in the stands.
After FC’s goal, Cashmere desperately tried to grab a winner by throwing men forward. They knew nothing but a win would most definitely hand the MPL title over to Ferrymead Bays. After a constant bombardment of chances and corners, Cashmere did grab their winning goal through Tom Schwarz after a goal mouth scramble in the 92 minute. Very unlucky for FC Twenty 11 as they just had their goalkeeper taken off with an injury a minute previously. This result means there is all to play for come the last round of the 2017 Mainland Premier League.