The unseasonable warmth for April persisted through to today's second round of the junior soccer season, and left its mark on the match-up between the Albion Park Under 11 Red tam and their cohorts the Albion Park Green team at the beautiful Terry Reserve for this week's match.
Down a pair of twin velociraptors in Belle and Claire Kadwell for the match the Reds got some top up value from the lending of Lachlan from one of the other Albion Park teams, as well as the addition of Zali Middleton. Both players helped to handle the workload on a warm morning for both teams.
Early on it felt as though the Reds were all still asleep. There was none of the usual energy and drive, and a lot of standing around and not willing to do the hard work to get the ball. Fortunately on a couple of occasions Indy Middleton and Jack-Ryan Eberwein were able to shut down some attacking raids that looked dangerous, and cleared the ball up to the forward line. Ky Van Helden did some good swerving in the mid-field from these deliveries, while Zali continued to be the live wire up front, never stopping and attacking at every opportunity.
The tough beginning was broken wide open by Indy, who stole the ball again and then make a big break himself down the right wing before getting the ball in to Noah Black, who made a great pass to Zali who was unmarked, and she crashed the ball home to open the scoring at 1-0.
Lachlan showed his own skills not long after, beating three opponents down the right before slashing a shot that passed right across the face of goal to just miss scoring. From the restart however Zoe Middleton forced a mistake from the defense before passing the ball to Noah, whose strike was not 100% but managed to go through the legs of the keeper to make the score 2-0
The team had started to get themselves moving now, as Brock Young found space down the left side before passing in to Noah, whose shot was wide of the goals. From the goal kick however Zali blocked the kick perfectly, and on the rebound slotted the ball home for her second goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Green team however was also coming to life, and from a goal kick at their end they managed to get past a slightly lax defensive unit to get the ball to the other end, where they scored a goal past keeper Josh Peters, who did his best to save by was beaten by a great strike, and the score at half time was 3-1 to the Reds.
The second half opened much better for the Reds after Coach Shane Black and CEO Andy Middleton had instructed their young changes on what was required. Ky took a ball early on from halfway, and found his way through the defenders to put the ball in the back of the net and extend the lead to 4-1. The Greens replied with a goal of their own to keep the pressure on. Some great work from Josh in the mid-field and then a perfect pass to Ky's feet up forward brought another goal for Ky and made the scoreline 5-2.
Some indecision in the backs and perhaps some exhaustion setting in (all of the kids were red in the face and puffing hard by this stage) gave the Green team several chances to score. Jack Tate in goals was busy, and made a great fist of his job. he made one excellent save to deny the Greens a goal, and then made a diving full length save against a cracking shot that should rank as save of the season, only to have his opponents sneak the rebound past him to make the score 5-3. With the defensive line too high when a great break was made it left Jack stranded, and despite his best efforts the Greens scored another goal to bring the game back to 5-4 and now it was very tight.
A good play between Josh and Brock saw the ball go out, with Brock making a great throw back to Josh who ran down the right wing almost to the flag, before making a perfect pin-point cross into the centre past three defenders to where he found Noah, who controlled the ball and then placed the ball into the back of the net for a terrific goal that extended the lead back to 6-4. These three combined again not long after, with Noah in the centre making a run before passing perfectly to Brock on the right, who then composed himself with a short run before blasting the ball home for a great individual goal, and the score was a more comfortable 7-4. This didn't stop the Green team, who again forced a goal from nothing at the other end to get the score back to 7-5, but time was against them and that was the final play of the match.
All the kids did well in tough conditions, but Zoe Middleton deserves special mention for her work rate. She didn't always get much of the ball, but she was in position all the time, and ran forward to present herself but got back quickly when the ball changed sides. She worried the ball off her opponents terrifically well.
Player of the Day was awarded to Indy Middleton who again showed great defensive skills (although his eyes wandered to the other match a couple of times) and continues to take his chances to make big runs through the centre and down the wings before getting the ball to his teammates in the scoring positions. Great work Indy.
A short break ensues for the school holidays, but the kids have already shown they should be in for a great season, especially if they keep listening to Shane and Andy's advice.