Friendly: Reserves v UoB Staff by Matt T, 11th Aug 2014
Twelve months after we forayed to Patchway to start our pre-season schedule, there wasn’t much that had changed as the Reserves lined up against University of Bristol Staff. Oh… Hang on…
There was the new (streamlined) management structure, five new faces and the promise of playing in a new division on the horizon. One thing that hadn’t changed though was the reserves lining up, once again, without a goalkeeper.
Mirroring the exploits of Manager Harvo in goal for the First team, new Reserve team manager Ticko donned the gloves for his first ever appearance between the sticks. The task at hand wasn’t too overwhelming, thanks in large to a solid back four, containing Jamie, a new summer recruit, last season’s stalwarts n_MAN and Stu, as well as Ray, back from his 12 month loan spell at Saints Old Boys.
In midfield, Dan Bacon and Matt Grannan stablised the centre circle, allowing wingers Phil and Ali to stretch the UoB staff down the flanks. Another new recruit, Jordon was busy pressing the opposing centre backs and Rodders was his ever-industrious self up front – and it was from Rodders’ pressure that the first goal came. With UoB dangerously playing a high-line against Rodders’ pace, he managed to evade the offside trap and chase a through-ball towards the opposition area. A mix-up between the GK and defender saw the ball richochet to Ali on the left, who, via a clumsy save found Rodders in front of an empty net to tap in. The first substitution (of what transpired to be a record number ever made in a 90 minute match) saw Jordon take the flag from Azam after 25 minutes.
With the Hounds playing some nice possession football, the danger was always going to be dwelling on the ball and UoB nearly found themselves on even terms, but for the telescopic leg of Ticko. You honestly can’t underestimate the importance of that save, especially as the next bit of good fortune was to come the Hounds’ way. After a commanding gather, Ticko’s quick throw to Matt G was feeble at best. Luckily, the ball (moving at ~8mph) managed to evade UoB’s midfield, allowing Matt to turn and play a delicious outside-of-the-right-boot-pass to Ali down the left channel. Ali repaid the favour with a outside-of-the-left-boot-shank in to the net. 2-0 up at half-time and everyone was happy.
The second half, however, was not quite as good and will be remembered largely for infinite subsitutions and last-minute sloppiness. Changes ran amok for the second half, with Darren and Trevor both coming on to make their debuts and Gary Chivers brought into the engine room. Jamie, having impressed so much with his committed display on debut, departed on 50 minutes to start the revolving door of changes. Phil and Jordon returned, Ali T returned, Dan Bacon returned and then got taken off again, much to his chagrin. I myself was going to return, but owing to an unfortunate shin-pad incident, had to make do with 45 minutes in goal. With all the changes, it was inevitable that we would suffer positionally and tactically. UoB’s pressure finally told and they managed to send a 25 yard lob over the head of Rodders in to the net. With a new lease of life, and with legs tiring on our part, they managed to score a second goal with 90 seconds remaining – the sort of scrambled goal that went a long way to sealing our fate last season. Nevertheless, determined to get a positive result from the game, we went looking for a winner – and it came. After his free-kick was cleared, the ball was crossed in by Ali from the left, where Ray expertly timed his run and header to net the winner with 20 seconds to go.
All in all, there were a number of positives to take from the game as well as things to work on for the next friendly on Thursday.
Some of the information contained in this match report may not be truly accurate as I put all of the effort in to remembering the save I made.