The big Derby match, the first of the season came upon me in my second game back for the 9s. For those of you lucky enough to of played in a derby game will know there is that extra incentive. The form book goes out the window, often style and ability with it. With a 8s team bang in form and with quality across the park we knew we would be in for a tough one.
With a potential club record of 3 women in attendance, there was extra pressure to perform. Taking the plus points from last weeks game we had confidence we could get something from the game. An exciting pre match warm up and important prematch speech got the guys in the right frame for what was ahead.
We started well, on the front foot quickly tackling for the ball when the opposition gained possession. It was a great start to the game, much similar to the previous week. Some time had passed and we were not yet to take the opportunity we had gained, then a flash of brilliance from the left hand side, Gerry took a cracking shot from distance to the near post, it flew in. A deserved lead and a delighted team knew it was only the beginning of a tough game. Immediately further pressure up the field and a back pass was, fortunately for us, cleared in to Gerry to rebound in to the goal. It showed great effort and commitment to go for the ball, there is never a lost cause at this level and it showed. The game levelled out a little bit more but the 9s were still on top. We gained a free kick on the edge of the area, at least 7 players stating their case to take it. Rory made the most convincing argument and I opted to let him take it over me, I begged him to ensure the ball on target, a catastrophic fail from him 🙂 Fortunately a nice passing move created a passing move and Gerry was in there with his 3rd. A cracking half from him.
Going in at half time we knew, or at least I did, that the game was not over. We knew the 8s would come out fighting. They were on top, we were defending well and coping with what they had to throw at us. There were about 30 minutes to go and Sam Heath had a throw in from the side line, in a move I am calling the “double flick on” occurred, disaster the 8s scored against a leaping GK with a fine header. This gave the 8s hope, and they jumped on that hope. They continued with their pressure, but further fine defending kept them at bay. With 12 minutes to go the 8s struck again….another “double flick on”, you couldn’t get two goals more similar. It was a fine tactic from the 8s.
We were under pressure, although time was creeping to the end, there was still chance for an 8s comeback. Further great defending, a cut out from Will Selfe of fine proportions stopping an almost definite goal. With the clock still ticking and around 5 minutes left we were on the counter attack; run with the ball towards the goal, play the ball out wide to the winger, both these options were ignored by Gerry who took a strike at goal from around 37.5 yards and it flew in just under the bar. What a strike, what a goal, a great goal to seal victory. Delight for the 9s, a well deserved victory.
It was a tough game, a gritty derby, with again great performances. Free-kick taking aside Rory won a lot of headers and tackles in the middle and showed another side to his game. Kevin Jackson produced some magical saves and a great command of the area, he was a key attribute to the win, a notable outstretched save late on was key for our victory. Selfe and Kelly were awesome at the back, alongisde Mike Pollard, who on nearly ever other day, at any level, would have the MoM award. Mike defended valiantly, he won some terrific headers and commanded the back line well, it was a great performance against some top quality forward opposition. But for a MoM its difficult to look any further than a man who scores great goals at crucial times and Gerry wins that accolade. Great effort from him and good play to help involve all the team in the play. Successfully buying the post match jug and he will have probably won a goal of the season accolade at the end of the season to top it all off.