Under 15 Match Reports 2016-2017
Northside Athletic 2-4 Robins U15
Excellent performance sees Robins earn fine away win
Northside were our opponents for the opening fixture of the season in an entertaining game that we narrowly won, 5-4. Since then both teams have had some good games and some good results and both have improved. So we knew this would be a tough game, with Northside looking to avenge their opening day defeat with a win on their home turf.
Regular stopper Max was away this weekend so we were enormously grateful when Ollie Mill stepped up to the plate and volunteered to do a guest spot shift between the sticks. And a very good shift it was too! If he was at all nervous about playing in an unfamiliar position, he certainly didn't show it as he bossed his area from the off, had a really confident first touch/save, distributed the ball well and communicated really well with his defenders. Special mention to Tom as well who dropped into the back line to cover for Ollie and played with a composure and assurance that made it impossible to believe he didn't play there every week.
Both sides started the game strongly and the first twenty minutes or so of the first half were fairly evenly matched. We played some cracking football, we looked solid at the back as Joe and Tom put in a very composed shift in the centre while Will and Alex snuffed out anything coming down the wing. In midfield we benefited from excellent creative play from Aaron and Tommy, playing against his old team and very much showing them what they were missing, and both working hard too to break up Northside attacks. On either wing, Ben and Woody worked hard and played intelligently to give us width in attack and stretch the Northside midfield and defence all out of shape, while up front Kyle and Ari are always threatening and today was no exception. Nonetheless some determined Northside defending kept us out, while we always had to be on our toes to deal with their attacks.
As the half wore on, Nathan and Gustavo came on, giving Northside something extra to think about and both lads immediately set about imposing themselves on the game with good effect. We were starting to gain the upper hand now and surely it was only a matter of time that we got the goal our good play deserved. But it was Northside who were first to break the deadlock with a slightly generously awarded free kick on the edge of our box. In fairness, the free kick was superbly taken, nothing Ollie or the defence could do about it. But the lads didn't let their heads drop, they just got on with playing good football and shortly before half time we levelled after some good combination play in midfield found Ari just inside the Northside box, he turned and smashed it all in one move, a superb goal to send us into the break all square, certainly no more than we deserved for a half of really good football.
Again, both teams came out firing in the second half and again Northside took the lead, as Ollie made a great save from an awkward angle but was unfortunate that the rebound went straight to a Northside player and he could do nothing about the follow-on. Having twice gone behind undeservedly despite playing well, it would have been easy for heads to drop a little but one of the best things about the lads in this game, was the way they kept their composure and self-belief. So they just reset themselves and carried on playing good football.
We got the reward for that 5 minutes later when Woody played a lovely deft ball over the top of the Northside defence for Ari to run on to and he finished calmly to once again draw us level. We had now regained the initiative in the game and never really looked back from here - some nice flowing football, combined with resilient defending put us firmly in charge of the game. So it was no more than we deserved when Nathan floated in a great corner that Kyle towered up over the keeper to nod home and put us in the lead for the first time in the game.
Ten minutes later and we wrapped the game up as Aaron picked out Ari with a terrific through ball to put him one on one with the keeper. Some great skills left the keeper floundering and Ari dispatched calmly to seal his hat-trick and 3 points for the team.
This was an exceptional team performance, all the lads played really well, worked hard for each other as a team, kept their heads under pressure and encouraged each other to the win. We were very proud not just of the football they played but the spirit in which they played it, if we can build on this in coming weeks, it bodes well for the rest of the season.
- Ari (39)
- Ari (50)
- Kyle (58)
- Ari (70)
Player of the Match
In a game full of outstanding performances, Ollie still stood out, and not just for having the guts to step up and play in goal in the first place but for how well he did - some great saves, bossed his area, always looked confident and played with a huge grin on his face!
Blunsdon FC 2-15 Robins U15
Aaron gets his goal!
After an extended run of home games, it was time for Robins to hit the road on Sunday, although with the game at our regular training base, it didn't feel that unfamiliar!
We started the game really brightly, Niall going wide to put in a great ball over the top for Kyle who finished brilliantly to open the scoring inside the first couple of minutes. Nathan was next on the scoresheet with a great strike from the left after Ben found his route to goal blocked in the centre of the opposition box and cleverly switched the ball out to Nathan to his left. The same two combined once more, after Aaron released them with a great ball out and they cut out the Blunsdon defence with some terrific 1-2s before Nathan finished calmly to put us 3 up.
Half way through the first half, with Kyle taking a well-earned rest, Ari came on in his place and wasted no time in getting his name on the scoresheet after a great through ball from Nathan set him up. Another great cross in from Niall created the next goal, causing chaos in the Blunsdon box before Ari managed to get hold of it and smashed it home. Ari nearly made it a hat-trick a minute later but a defender blocked a great shot, and Ben was quickest to react, following in to bury the rebound. Tommy wrapped up our goals in the first half after making a great run off the ball when Nathan found his route to goal blocked and played his team-mate in, good football from both players.
Max's hopes of a clean sheet were dashed with nearly the final kick of the first half as a clever through ball set the Blunsdon striker running, and despite Will and Alex's best efforts they couldn't catch him and he finished well to grab a goal back for Blunsdon, which was sportingly applauded by both sets of supporters.
A bit of a change round in the second half, with Tom dropping into the back row to allow Ollie a run out in midfield, and both lads doing a sterling job. Also at the back, Alex and Will were fantastic, both bringing the ball out well, while working hard and staying sharp to snuff out Blunsdon counter attacks. A few minutes into the second half, Aaron played a terrific ball into Kyle who unselfishly squared the ball to Nathan for his hat-trick.
A slip in defence allowed that pacy Blunsdon striker through and he took full advantage to grab his second goal, but their respite was short lived. Nathan made a great run into the area, was blocked by a good piece of defensive play from the Blunsdon defence and squared the ball short to Kyle. Kyle had his back to goal but showed a real striker's instinct in his turn and shot all in one move, and bagged a well deserved second.
More pirouetting was on display for our next goal, this time from Ben, who turned sharply in the box and finished neatly for his second. Tommy was next up, with a great driven finish from wide on the right that left the keeper with no chance. So next time the keeper saw Tommy approaching he was taking no chances, coming out well to close him down, but Tommy was too determined and drove past him to seal his hat-trick.
Alex was unfortunate not to score after a great driving run out of the back was cut short in the area, and along similar lines Aaron had played well all game and started several of the moves that led to goals, but couldn't seem to score himself. Moving him up front, he battered away at the Blunsdon goal but couldn't find his way past a determined keeper. He did, though, succeed in setting up Ari for his hat-trick.
Tommy was in full-on poaching form today, and pounced on a half clearance to get his fourth goal of the game. Kyle came back on up front with a few minutes left, many players would have been focused on completing their hat-trick but Kyle showed great team spirit in being more determined to help his team-mate score. And finally with a minute left, Aaron pounced on a rebound from Kyle's shot to score his much-desired goal to probably the loudest cheer and biggest celebration of the game.
This was a good performance and it was pleasing to see that even with the goals flying in from all directions, the boys kept their discipline and kept playing good football throughout.
- Kyle (2)
- Nathan (9)
- Nathan (12)
- Ari (23)
- Ari (28)
- Ben (29)
- Tommy (39)
- Nathan (43)
- Kyle (48)
- Ben (60)
- Tommy (64)
- Tommy (74)
- Ari (76)
- Tommy (78)
- Aaron (79)
Player of the Match
- Niall O'Leary
- Tommy Brewster
Niall held his position well and delivered some excellent crosses in to set up several goals; Tommy showed a real poacher's instinct to grab some great goals, with several different types of finish
Robins U15 3-6 FC Calne
Calne take the honours in a great game to watch
We played two entertaining games against Calne last season so we know they are a decent side who play some good football and this promised to be a good game.
It didn't disappoint, with some good play from both sides right from the first whistle. We played a more expansive game in attack than we had done last week and we looked well organised and determined in defence. However, it was Calne who got the first goal as a good through ball and clever switch across the face of goal opened us up.
We battled our way back into the game though and the effort paid off half way through the first half as Kyle's strength on the ball and determination paid off and he drew us level. Both teams battled hard for the rest of the 1st half and both played some good football, but neither could quite create the chance to break through. It looked like we'd go into the break level until Max blocked a Calne strike but couldn't hold it and Calne followed up quickest to poke home from close range
So we found ourselves a goal down but not dispirited at half time, plenty of good play to build on in the second half. We didn't start well though and a few minutes in found ourselves 3-1 down, then struggled to get into the game for much of the next 20 minutes as Calne took full advantage of their dominance to take control of the game with 3 further goals.
The game was more or less over as a contest with a 5 goal deficit to overcome and only 20 minutes left. So it's greatly to the boys' credit that they didn't let their heads drop, they kept working and trying to play their game and as a result they deservedly started to work their way back into it.
Woody unleashed a cracking strike that the Calne defence could only turn away and Ari was on hand to bury the rebound, just reward for his hard work all game. Two minutes later and he was on the score sheet again, this time the keeper came out, Ari dinked the ball over him, a lovely delicate little lob to claim his second and the momentum was now all with us, with Calne rocking.
We pressed hard in the final 10 minutes, but Calne defended well, so while the last 10 minutes or so were all Robins domination, we couldn't reduce the deficit further.
This was a good game to watch between two teams who like to play entertaining football. The difference was in how well Calne took advantage of their 15-20 minutes of being on top at the start of the second half and to be fair they took it well and deserved the win. But plenty to be happy about from a Robins point of view, all the lads put a shift in, they played much more intelligently than last week and lots of individual challenges met. So loads of positives and plenty to build on for a side that's learning and improving by the week. Well played, lads!
- Kyle (20)
- Ari (68)
- Ari (70)
Player of the Match
Kyle worked really hard all game, tracking back when on the flank, and always causing problems for the Calne defence up front. He used the ball well and played with intelligence and determination.
Robins U15 2-5 Ramsbury
Ramsbury deserve the win against "naive" Robins
We know Ramsbury well of old, they're a team we've had some good games against over the years and we hoped this would be another enjoyable installment. We set out a simple game plan, for the lads to spread the play in attack, while out of possession to mark the key threats tightly and close them down.
So it was a little disappointing to see any semblance of a plan seem to go right out of the window as soon as the whistle blew - we went narrow and direct in attack, meaning several promising attacks were easily snuffed out simply by getting men compact behind the ball; while at the other end, Ramsbury's key danger man was allowed all the time and space he needed to attack the goal himself or set others up to do so.
Not surprisingly, naive play in attack and defence meant we failed to score while at the other end it was only a matter of time before we conceded. And so it was we found ourselves 2-0 down with 20 minutes gone.
With a 2 goal deficit to overcome we seemed to remember what the game plan was and we started to spread the ball around a bit more, and it bore instant results - Kyle making an excellent run down the left before cutting in to put a great cross across the face of goal which was met by an equally good run from Nathan and a calm finish. So 2-1 and very much back in the game, back on track.
Apparently not, as more naive defending cost us once again and we went into the break 3-1 down and deservedly so. In fairness, the last 10 minutes were much better, especially at the back where we finally started to pick up their dangerous player and, funnily enough, the plan worked. A bit too late, though, we needed to do that from the start of the game, not 30 minutes in.
We started the second half much more brightly, and looked more solid at the back, although still too narrow and too direct in the final third. But some good build up play and we were certainly playing much better football. We weren't able to capitalise on it though and a lapse of concentration at the back, followed by a failure to deal with a bit of a "bobble" once again cost us dear.
Finally in the last 15 minutes we actually started to play to the plan we'd set out at the start and while it was way too late to save the game, it provided a (slightly frustrating) glimpse of what might have been. Good runs, positive attacking play, intelligent use of the ball, we ripped through the Ramsbury defence and midfield and played some terrific football.
Again, our goal came from a wide player, some great work from Niall cutting in, receiving the ball with his back to the goal on the edge of the box, and turning in one move he unleashed an absolute pearler of a shot that rocketed into the net. Great technique and a well deserved first goal for Niall in a Robins shirt.
Ramsbury deserved to win the game, they were simply a little bit smarter in the way they played the whole game, whereas we only showed up in patches. However, in those patches, especially the last 15 minutes, when we played the way we know we can, we really played some decent football. So that's an encouraging sign to take from what was overall a slightly disappointing game and hopefully a lesson learned.
Player of the Match
Aaron worked hard for the team, used the ball well and played some killer passes!
Robins U15 1-11 AFC Newbury (League Cup 2nd Round)
Time to concentrate on the League as Robins dumped out of the Cup!
Our League Cup campaign this season got off to a flying start with a comfortable win over Div 1 opposition. Our "reward" for this excellent performance (and result) was an even tougher tie against an even stronger Div 1 team!
Newbury are a strong side and they set the tone early on, with the first goal in 5 minutes, and four more following in fairly quick succession. With 5 goals down inside 15 mins, the game was effectively over as a contest, but to the lads' credit they still kept trying to play and working hard for each other.
The hard work was rewarded at the mid point of the first half when Ari played Kyle in with a great through ball, and Kyle finished brilliantly to restore Robins' spirits. That seemed to raise everyone and we came close to a second when Woody came on and after a great run down the wing unleashed a fierce shot that crashed into the side netting. While we couldn't stop Newbury scoring another of their own before half time we had at least stemmed the freefall of the first 15 minutes!
We started the second half well and in contrast to the first half, competed strongly for the first 15 minutes, some good work in midfield to feed Kyle and Ari, both of whom had good efforts on goal blocked by a strong Newbury defence or saved by an on-form keeper. Our defence worked hard to keep Newbury out, aided by a hardworking midfield, and Max was once again in fine form. But then we conceded two on the bounce, before regaining our composure and again we began to compete well.
We played some good football in this period, for example a great run out from the back by Will which was great to see. The nice thing was even though the game was now well beyond us, the lads just got on and played, no whinging, no moaning, no giving up, just heads down, work hard and play your football. We perhaps sat a little deep, played a little narrow, but we worked hard, we scrapped and fought in defence, Max pulled off some amazing saves, we worked to create in midfield and we ran and ran up front.
We conceded a few more near the end of the game and in fairness Newbury were good value for a comfortable win. They were bigger, quicker, stronger and more athletic than we were all over the pitch - you can counter a team that is superior in some of those aspects if you're smarter or play the game better, but you'll always struggle to counter all of those factors. And, let's be honest, Newbury's football wasn't too shabby either. They deserved the win and we wish them the best of luck for the rest of their cup campaign, but we ended the game upbeat and proud of the way the boys played. Sometimes you just to have to hold your hands up and say you were beaten by the better team but the attitude and approach we showed today will stand us in very good stead for the rest of the season. Onwards and upwards and time to "concentrate on the league" as they say.
Player of the Match
Ari worked his socks off for the team, especially in the second half, ran all day and tremendous workrate
Robins U15 2-1 Old Town United
Robins take the points in proper game of football
After last week's disappointment in the County Cup, it was back to League action this week and we were looking for a reaction. We certainly got one!
The lads looked up for it right from the off and it wasn't long before we were putting the Old Town defence on the rack. A great ball in from Kyle found Ari and he burst through the Old Town defence, strong and determined on the ball, to put us 1 up with just 4 minutes on the clock.
Old Town started the day in 3rd place in the League and there's a reason for that, as they showed as they regathered themselves from the goal and played some quality football. We more than matched them with some great play all over the pitch, some brilliant work from Tom and Aaron in midfield, shielding the defence and linking in with the play further up the pitch, with Gustavo doing a great job in front of them, combining well with Ari up front.
One of the reasons Old Town are doing so well this season (and did so well last season) is because they score plenty of goals and this was always going to be a tough game for our defence. Fortunately, the back line of Alex, Joe, Ollie and Will were all right on the top of their games today and did a magnificent job to keep the division's top scorer quiet. They each did their jobs brilliantly and communicated well with each other to retain our 1-goal lead. A particular shout out to our full backs, Alex and Will, who did a superb job with wide attacks and seemed to buzz about everywhere when needed, filling in to help out the centre backs as well as doing a cracking job of their own roles. Well deserved man of the match for Alex and after a solid debut from Will last week, he's stepped up to another level this week. Great work lads.
When Old Town did manage to break through the back line, Max was on terrific form, some superb saves but also doing a great job on deciding when to hold and when to come out to close down a through ball. More than once, it looked like the Old Town striker had got through but a combination of strong pressure from a chasing defender(s) behind, along with Max charging out in front was enough to put the striker off and cause him to snatch at a shot he'd surely have despatched if he'd been given more time. Excellent work from all 5.
We made their defence work hard too, Ari and Kyle as always causing plenty of problems for the opposition defence but they worked hard to keep us out, despite some excellent work from both the two forwards as well as Ben and Nathan on the wings. But despite plenty of pressure their defence and keeper held firm and we went into the break with just that slender 1 goal lead.
We started the second half brightly, Woody was unlucky not to double the lead after a fantastic run down the wing and a fierce striker which just went into the side netting. Kyle had some good chances too, working really hard up front but just couldn't quite find a way past a reolute Old Town defence. While Ari dropped in behind to work with Tom and Aaron in breaking up Old Town attacks and restart our attacks. Some excellent work from all 3, hard working and real quality build up play.
Ollie Mill was unfortunate not to score from a brilliantly struck free kick that drew a tremendous save from the Old Town keeper, but it wasn't until after we made a couple of changes that we turned our slight edge in the run of play into extending our lead. The move started with some superb work from Tom closing down the opposition full back just inside their half, Tom's high pressure resulted in a minor error in controlling the ball which was all Tom needed to steal the ball and feed Kyle. Kyle whipped in a brilliant cross toward the back post where Ari lurked menacingly, while the keeper did enough to scramble it away from Ari, he could do nothing about Tommy running in to follow up as he absolutely smashed the ball into the roof of the net. Brilliant goal to cap a fine performance from Tommy, some great play and really good organisational work in talking to his team-mates.
We weren't going to get the chance to enjoy the two goal buffer though as Old Town finally got the goal they'd been threatening all game to lead us into a nervy final 15 minutes as we tried to restore the two goal cushion at one end, and hold on to the lead at the other. More magnificent work from Max and the defence, some brilliant last ditch tackles from Alex and Will, not to mention a goal-line clearance from Joe, proved enough to hold on to our lead and secure the win.
And, in the end, it was a win we were good value for although with a team as dangerous as Old Town you could never sit back and relax on a one goal lead. This was a tight game and a proper game of football, really enjoyable to watch and, according to the players, even more to play in. What was also really pleasing was to see the friendly handshakes and sincere respect between the two teams at the final whistle.
Every department, defence, midfield and fowards, and every single one of the lads put in a superb shift today and they saw today the rewards they can get and the levels they can reach when they really push themselves. This is a learning team and we have no doubt whatever they'll have learned some valuable lessons about themselves and their capacity as a team from today that will help them push on to the next level.
Player of the Match
- Alex Horhogea-Andrei
- Max McCarthy
Alex was superb today, worked his socks off for the team, read play really well and more than once prevented certain goal-scoring chances; Max again magnificent, a couple of very fine saves, but more than that, decision making on coming out of his area was terrific
Melksham Town Hurricanes (Wilts County Cup) 4-0 Robins U15
Robins fail to fire for early Cup exit
After a great start in the League Cup, hopes were high for this away game to Mid Wilts Div 1 side Melksham in the 1st round of the Wilts FA County Cup. It was a lovely day for a game, and a decent surface to play on so it was all set up for a good game.
Both teams started the game brightly, with Joe and Ollie called into service early on to deal with a couple of decent Melksham attacks while at the other end Ari and Kyle both saw decent chances well dealt with by a Melksham keeper who was to have a good game.
After those early chances, both sides settled down to their work and a good game developed. Aaron and Tom worked hard in midfield, combining well with each other and Ben and Nathan on either flank. But we were starting to create our own problems - Melksham are a big strong side, so not a good side to start trying to play direct against but that is what we seemed to want to do. Instead of playing out from the back, goal kicks were being lumped down the middle (and not suprisingly with a smaller midfield, we then largely lost possession), rather than use the width we created on the wings we seemed to always want to charge at four or five players lined up in defence. We were working hard, but not smart and we were making it too easy for Melksham to come at us.
Eventually this poor decision making was going to cost us and the breakthrough came for Melksham when Joe made a good run out from the back, but instead of releasing the ball early decided to try and battle his way through 3 players, lost the ball and they poured forward on the counter. We didn't reorganise quickly enough and a good finish put Melksham one up.
A few minutes later and we were two down as Melksham showed us how to attack with width, switching a ball across the face of goal and catching our back line ballwatching to slot home easily at the back post.
We fought back with some good attacks, but a solid defence kept Ari and Kyle's chances to a minumium while what they did get through was stopped by that in-form keeper.
We went into the break 2-0 down, but still with the game in the balance - 1st goal in the second half was going to be crucial in determining how the game went. Again, though we seemed to keep repeating the same mistakes of the 1st half, too narrow, too direct - Ben and Woody were making good runs out wide, but no-one seemed to look up and find them with the ball, instead we kept running into a brick wall.
Inevitably that meant we invited pressure on to ourselves and that pressure told when half way through the second period, we couldn't clear a sustained Melksham attack and despite two excellent saves from Max, we didn't manage to clear our lines of a scramble in the 6 yard box and the ball was forced home to make it 3-0.
Credit to the lads, though, they didn't give up and we still kept pushing forward to get back in the game. As the game got more stretched though, Melksham also broke through and with 10 mins left got a fourth. After that they bombarded us and now they seemed to be able to get behind us at will - it was only due to some heroics from Max that the score line wasn't worse.
We know we can play better than this and while it's disappointing not to give a better account of ourselves, we will learn the lessons from this game and we'll bounce back. Credit to Melksham who were good value for the win and we wish them all the best for a good cup run from here.
Player of the Match
A string of heroic saves from Max in the first half kept the team in the game and in the second half he kept working hard to keep the score down; Ben worked his socks off down the left flank, never gave up and created some really promising chances
Robins U15 2-7 Stratton Juniors
Statton too strong for Robins
After our heroics in easing past Div 1 Shrivenham in the cup last week, we went into this game with confidence high. Although Stratton are top of the table for a reason and we soon found out why.
They started the game with 10 players as one player was late arriving (through no fault of his own) but it was us who looked like we were a man short as Stratton tore into us. Within the first 15 minutes we were 3-0 down as failure to clear our lines repeatedly cost us dear.
Ironically, once we were 3 down and Stratton were up to their full complement of 11, we actually started to compete fairly well, but overturning a 3 goal deficit against such a strong team was always going to be a tall order. That quest wasn't helped as first Ari, and then Alex, went off injured, one to a fairly cynical foul, the other to a pulled muscle. But nonetheless the players rallied bravely with some excellent work all over the pitch, from front to back.
Just before half time, Kyle leapt to meet an excellent corner from Ben and under tough challenge from two defenders, bounced the ball into the net off his back!
So we went into half time 3-1 down but with spirits still high, the lads all strong in saying that they could overturn a 2-goal deficit. That alone was a real bright spot to hear that confidence and determination.
But the second half started badly as Stratton launched a strong attack, Max made a great save but the ball rebounded out to a Stratton player who smashed it in from distance to restore their 3 goal lead with the second half barely a minute old.
But the lads weren't deterred and resumed where they'd left off in the first half, working hard and more than competing against a strong Stratton side. We had some good build-up play but couldn't quite convert that into clear cut chances and the chances we did have were dealt with by a lively Stratton defence and keeper. Our own keeper was kept busy too and Max had a great game against one of the strongest attacking line ups we've yet faced.
Ari finally got the break he deserved when a great through ball allowed him once again to run at the Stratton defence as he had been all game, only to see his hard work snuffed out. This time he broke through and slotted home confidently to drag us back into the game.
Sadly that was the last time we troubled the scorer, although not for want of trying with Kyle, Ari and Harry all coming close. But it was Stratton who were on scoring form today and they rounded out the last 15 as they started the first with 3 further goals to finish the game off in emphatic style.
We had a poor first 10-15 minutes and not a great last 10-15 minutes, but in between that we actually played some decent football and for the best part of an hour we competed well against a team I have no doubt will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. While there's plenty to work on coming out of today's game, there's also plenty of positives to build on and we're confident the lads will use the lessons of today to learn from and develop their games.
Player of the Match
Aaron worked his socks off all game, tenacious at left back, skillful and determined in centre mid. We never get anything less than the proverbial footballers' 110% with Aaron!
Robins U15 8-3 Shrivenham and Watchfield
Robins well up for the Cup!
This was a tough draw for the 1st round of the cup, against a strong Div 1 side that we know well from last season. We asked the lads to go out fast and strong right from the get go, and really attack the game.
We couldn't have asked for a better interpretation of those words as the lads besieged the Shrivenham goal right from the first whistle and with a little over a minute on the clock, Tommy got on the end of a brilliant ball in from Kyle to open his account for Robins. Great ball in and brilliant reactions, not to mention a tidy finish, from Tommy, and a great start to the game.
But we know that Shrivenham are a strong outfit and there was no way we could simply sit back and try to defend a 1-0 lead for 78 minutes. They say the best form of defence is attack so once again the Robins lads poured forward, and a few minutes later struck again, this time Niall's ball in finding Ari in space - Ari needs no second invitation and he smashed it home. 2-0 up with 5 minutes gone isn't a bad way to start a cup tie against higher league opposition!
Shrivenham started to recover from the shock of the early onslaught and began to compose themselves a bit and good game of football developed. Plenty of work for Tom and Tommy to do, combining well in midfield and our back line were kept busy by several strong Shrivenham attacks. Joe and Ollie M did a great job in the centre repelling attacks in front of goal, while on the flanks Alex and Aaron were working their socks off to cut out attacks down the wing. Between them they largely restricted Shrivenham to shots from distance which Max is more than happy to scoop up all day long. That's not to say they didn't break through several times though and more than once we were, as so often, grateful for our keeper's great saves.
A little shuffling of the decks saw Ben, Gustavo and Nathan join the fray and all immediately made themselves busy and had an impact on the game. Gustavo was working hard just behind the forwards and making a right nuisance of himself, as well as working hard to win the ball back when needed, nice one Gustavo, some great work today. But it was Ben who was next to trouble the scoresheet as he followed in on one of Ollie M's trademark howitzer free kicks, gambled and nipped in to tap the ball in at the far post - great reactions, great run and a lovely finish.
So we went into the break 3 up and really at half time just asked the lads for more of the same please! And again, they delivered, as within a few seconds of the restart Kyle played a lovely killer through ball that Ari latched on to and buried for his second and our fourth. Fair play to Shrivenham it would have been easy for their heads to drop at this point, but this actually just seemed to galvanise them and they went straight down the other end, pressed home an attack and scored from the resulting corner.
We were working really hard at the back and in the centre of the park to repel the Shrivenham attacks but we also had some great work going on down the flanks, both full backs putting in a terrific shift bringing the ball out, while Nathan and Niall alternated on the right, working just as hard to battle back as they did going forward. Their pace and determination caused Shrivenham no end of problems and both combined well with the central players to open up attacks. On the other flank, Harry was putting in a real Captain's shift, working his socks off to win everything, feeding the forwards and creating some decent chances of his own. He was rightly Man of the Match last week and this week he picked up where he left off.
Both teams were playing some great football and the game really ebbed and flowed from end to end, the ref commented at the end of the game that nearly the whole game was played like the last 10 minutes of a stalemate cup tie with both sides desperate to break the deadlock - great fun to watch, but it must have been exhausting to play in! A rare mistake from Max saw him not quite hold on to a Shrivenham strike that just got away from him and roll over the line to reduce their deficit to 2. The next goal was going to be vital, if they could get it back to 4-3, then possibly that sees the momentum swing more their way, whereas if we could restore the 3-goal lead surely that should be enough? Kyle stepped up to the plate once again, calmly rounding the keeper and finishing from a tight angle to restore that 3 goal cushion.
Again Shrivenham poured forward and failure to clear our lines cost us as they pulled it back to 5-3. Again, we pushed on to widen the gap again while Shrivenham looked to claw their way back into the game. As Harry dropped back into defence, Ben came out on the left flank and having scored a great goal of his own in the first now turned provider with first a cracking through ball into Kyle who still had plenty of work to do - great strength on the ball to battle his way through and open up enough space to get a cracking shot off and make it 6-3 to us. As the clock ran down, I think that was the point at which Shrivenham felt they were now running out of time and the energy to battle back into this once more but Ben and Kyle weren't done with them yet - a superb corner from Ben which Kyle headed down, keeper made a half save but unfortunately for him the ball fell to Kyle who went round and slotted home from close range for his hat-trick.
Ben, Ari, Kyle and Nathan were now tormenting the Shrivenham defence as they looked shattered and it was the front two who combined to give Kyle his "plus one" as Ari sliced open the Shrivenham midfield and defence with a superb through ball that Kyle ran on to and completed an emphatic win.
After last week's disappointing result, faced with higher league opposition in the cup this week it would have been easy for the lads to have come into the game today feeling like the underdogs and with their heads a little bit down. But this lot aren't like that any more - they came into the game bright and positive, believing in themselves and each other and they got their just rewards with a fine victory to see us through to the next round of the cup. Back to league action next week and looking forward to more entertaining football!
- Tommy (1)
- Ari (5)
- Ben (32)
- Ari (41)
- Kyle (55)
- Kyle (72)
- Kyle (74)
- Kyle (78)
Player of the Match
Robins U15 3-7 Ferndale Rodbourne Youth
Ferndale finally too much for Robins to handle in great game of football
This was a really good game of football that was neck and neck right up until the last 10 minutes when Ferndale pulled ahead and in the end sealed a convincing win.
Both teams started well and the game ebbed and flowed for the first 10 minutes, with some good play from both sides. Ben, Ari, Kyle and Nathan all pressed hard but a resolute Ferndale defence held firm, while at the back, Harry, Ollie, Joe and Woody did a great job holding off the strong Ferndale attacks.
But it was Ferndale who broke the deadlock, with a superb strike into the top corner of the net that even Max couldn't do anything about. Nothing daunted, we responded in the best way possible as Kyle got on the end of a superb Ollie Mill corner with a terrific header to draw us level.
A few minutes later and Ferndale were back in front again as Max came out well to deal with a ball over the top but couldn't quite get there before the onrushing striker who sold him and netted.
With the halfway mark of the 1st half, we made a Tom-for-Tommy swap (can't have them on the pitch at the same time - too confusing for the coaching staff!) as Tommy came on for Tom in midfield. Tom had, yet again, played a great partnership with Aaron in the centre, with Aaron putting in a great Captain's performance against his old side. Tommy more than did himself justice on his debut and can rightly be pleased with a solid debut showing.
We restored parity coming up to half time with a superb Brazilian combination as Gustavo picked out Ari with an excellent pass, Ari still had plenty of work to do, but did it brilliantly and slammed home to send us into the break all square.
So a decent first half and the half time team talk was quite simply more of the same, but within minutes of the restart we paid the price for failing to clear our lines from a corner as Ferndale once again took the lead. We levelled things out 10 minutes later as Ari set Kyle running with a terrific through ball, and Kyle shrugged off the defenders, finishing calmly to draw us level once again.
In what was becoming a great see-saw encounter, we were caught ball watching as Ferndale surged down our left, three players failed to deal with it and were caught napping as a great cross into the far post was nodded in by possibly the smallest player on the pitch. Great football, though, and a good headed finish. We were unlucky not to equalise more or less straight away as Harry finished off a great run with a terrific strike that rocketed toward goal but just glanced off the bar, and again a few minutes later as Ari's terrific shot just struck the post and no-one took a gamble to follow in for the tap-in.
We were to rue those missed opportunities as an uncharacteristic slip down the left allowed Ferndale chance to steal the ball and with no-one closing the player down he ran through to score, giving Ferndale a two goal advantage for the first time in what had been a very tight game. With just under 15 minutes left on the clock, there was still plenty of time to claw our way back into it, but whether it was tiredness or simply heads dropping (or a combination of the two), we seemed to lose heart a little at that goal and allowed Ferndale two further goals to make the scoreline a distinctly unflattering one from our point of view. That said, Ferndale were good value for the win so no hard feelings on the result, well played and good luck to them for the rest of the season (apart from the reverse fixture, obviously :) )
This was a good game of football and we contested it fiercely for all but the last 10 minutes or so, so although it was disappointing the way we dropped off a little toward the end, we more than played our part in what was a very good contest. Two officials from the League had stopped into watch and complemented both sides on the quality of the game and the spirit and manner in which it was played. Plenty of learning points for our lads, and plenty to work on in training but also plenty to be pleased about and a lot to build on. Next week we have Div 1 Shrivenham in the Cup so that will certainly be a stern test but if we can keep playing the football we have been so far this season, we'll give a good account of ourselves. Well played lads, didn't get the result today but you're doing well already this season and plenty more to come!
- Kyle (12)
- Ari (32)
- Kyle (51)
Player of the Match
Several candidates for Man of the Match today, two more very good performances up front from Ari and Kyle, and a strong performance in midfield from Aaron all made a case for Man of the Match, but in the end it had to Harry - an excellent performance in several roles and he put 100% into all of them, never let his head drop and worked his heart out for the team. Great work Harry!
Robins U15 9-2 Stratton Youth
Robins celebrate back to back wins at home
Last week, we started the season in the best possible way with a home win and this week the mission was to build on that as we faced a team new to us in the shape of Cirencester-based Stratton Youth.
We started the game brightly again, with Kyle and Nathan giving us pace to burn down the wings, while Gustavo and Ari linked up really well up front with a combination of flair and strength in front of goal. We took a little bit longer to open the scoring this week than last, although in fairness 3 minutes isn't too long to wait and it was certainly worth waiting for. A lovely clever flick-on from Gustavo set Kyle running and he beat his man to play a cracking ball across the face of goal that Ari ran on to and prodded home. Brilliant combination play, creativity and timing, a really well-worked goal.
Tom and Aaron picked up where they left off from last week with what is looking like an increasingly flourishing midfield partnership, solid in defending when we're out of possession, full of creative flair when they win the ball back (as they usually did today). And it was Aaron's clever flick that played Ari in for our second, although Ari stil had plenty of work to do, using his strength well to create space for himself to get a great shot off.
The next goal came from perhaps a slightly less expected quarter as we won a free kick just inside the opposition half, inside the centre circle. Ollie Mill stepped up to take it and unleashed an absolute worldy, that sailed over everyone and dipped just under the bar to put us 3-0 up after 10 minutes. Ordinarily I'd say I doubt we'll see a more impressive goal this season, but with the way this team are playing, all bets are off.
It wasn't all one-way traffic though and our back line of Harry, Ollie M, Joe and Alex were on top of their game to snuff out those attacks that got through a vigilant and solid midfield. Some excellent work too from Harry and Alex as attacking full backs, bringing the ball out from the back and working hard to create opportunities for our forwards to get in behind. Superb work lads!
It was a pleasure to see Ben take his bow for the season, and he quickly made his mark on the game, working hard on the left and linking up brilliantly with Kyle, Tom and Harry down the left side of the pitch. That left Kyle free to move up front and he quickly made his mark, latching on to a brilliant ball from Ari, to open his account for the game. And it was Kyle who got our final goal of the first half, as he got on the end of a great Ollie Mill corner, and scored with a clever overhead kick. Tekkers!
We were delighted that we scored 5 goals last week - this week, we'd scored 5 in the 1st half. Understandably, confidence was high as we went into the break.
Stratton are no mugs though and they proved they weren't just here to make up the numbers as they drew first blood in the second half within the first two minutes of the restart. Fair play, plenty of teams would fold faced with a 5-0 deficit but Stratton proved they're made of sterner stuff and they pushed and probed for a second, asking plenty of questions of our defence. Aaron and Woody had dropped into the back line to help out Joe and Ollie M, and all four worked really hard to restrict Stratton to just the one. Not to mention some excellent play from Max, who's proving week on week he's not just a very good shot-stopper but also a very clever keeper, making some very good decisions today as well as some terrific saves.
Nathan had a great game today and it was his corner that set up our next goal, as he found Kyle at the back post, couldn't quite get it under first time, but Kyle doesn't give up and he had a second go at it, this time a really clever little back flick from a very awkward angle to complete his hat-trick. Excellent work from both players, and the hat-trick the least Kyle deserves for an excellent display today.
From good combination play our next goal was a case of sheer individual determination as Joe won the ball around the halfway line then jinked, barged and weaved his way through half the Stratton team to inside their area where he fired into the corner for a great individual goal.
Nathan was brilliant today, working really hard up front with Kyle and then Ben, and doing everything right but it was starting to seem like the final shot just wouldn't go in as they went wide, saved by the keeper etc etc. Credit to Nathan though, he didn't get dispirited or let his head drop, he just kept going and eventually his reward had to come! Everyone was delighted when he picked the ball up wide, cut inside, feinted his defender to carve out the space to get a shot off and buried it for a very well deserved goal. Nice one Nathan!
And in testament to the great never-say-die spirit of Stratton, they were the next ones to score as their striker made a spirited run that we couldn't seem to cut out, then found a path through defence and keeper to slot home for their second. Not likely at this stage to alter the course of the game, but no less than he deserved for a determined display all the way through, in a game in which our defence were not in the mood to give him any opportunities.
There was still time in the game though for Ari to finish off his hat-trick, and again no less than he deserved for another really impressive display, in equal parts hard working and creative, flair and strength. That's his second hat-trick in as many games, it's a good job we don't follow the professional game in giving players who score hat-tricks the matchball, we'd be out of match balls already!
This was a superb display from every player today and the 3 points was just reward for a very good display of entertaining football. It's a pleasure to watch and, judging from the lads' smiles as they left the pitch, pretty good to play in as well. Love it!
- Ari (3)
- Ari (8)
- Ollie M (10)
- Kyle (17)
- Kyle (37)
- Kyle (54)
- Joe (60)
- Nathan (67)
- Ari (78)
Player of the Match
Another superb display from Kyle- pace, guile and goals, each one different, each displaying a different aspect of a very gifted technical player. A skill only matched by his workrate and willingness to work for the team which was superb throughout
Robins U15 5-4 Northside Athletic
We hoped for a better start to this season than last and we couldn\'t have asked for a much better start as in the first minute a good through ball found Kyle and Ari in space, both lads chased it down and Ari got there first, striking it sweetly to put us 1-0 up in the first minute. Terrific work from both lads.
Max played really well today, some good saves and some very good decision making, he owned his area and did a great job of acting as a \"sweeper keeper\", coming out to clear when needed. It was from one of these clearances that our second came, as Max strode out, won the ball, spotted Kyle in space and picked him out with a terrific long pass. Kyle still had plenty of work to do, but a great run got him into space in front of the Northside goal and he finished calmly to put us 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes!
We played some great football today, Tom and Aaron bossing midfield and setting up some great attacks, with Harry working hard on left wing and Nathan and then Gustavo also doing a great job on the right. Some of the creative attacking play was really good and Ari and Kyle were both working their socks off to open up the Northside defence more than once, but just couldn\'t quite do enough to extend the lead.
Of course, we weren\'t going to have it all our own way, Northside had some good attacks of their own and our back line of Woody, Ollie, Joe and Alex all worked hard to keep them out. Alex is proving a revelation at right back, some excellent work from both him and Woody in the opposite side full back role.
We only had one sub today whereas Northside nearly had more subs than our whole team, which brings it\'s own problems of course, but did mean they were constantly able to bring on fresh legs. That and the extra 5 mins each way we\'re playing this season took it\'s toll toward the end of the first half and we couldn\'t quite react quickly enough to some excellent attacking play in front of our goal and Northside pulled one back.
We started the second half brightly, with a slightly rejigged formation which saw Gustavo working well alongside Ari up front. We again put the Northside goal under pressure with good work from the attack and more good creative play from Aaron and Tom in midfield, while Kyle and Nathan gave us pacey outlets on either wing. The pressure told as a Northside player decided to try his \"hand\" (literally!) at being an extra keeper and we were awarded a pen which Ari efficiently dispatched to restore our 2-goal lead.
Northside didn\'t let their heads drop though and a few minutes later our failure to properly clear our lines saw them claw one back to reduce our lead to 3-2. Time for a quick reshuffle as Nathan now went up front and that quickly paid dividends as he latched on to a great cross in from Kyle and tidily dispatched to restore our two goal cushion. Again, Northside proved their resilience and pushed on to fight their way back into the game, again our failure to clear our lines cost us as a half clearance rebounded off a Northside shin and into the net. Credit to the Northside player though, it might not be the tidiest goal he\'ll ever score but the point is you have to get into those positions.
So back to 4-3 and there was still plenty of incident to come in what had become a thrilling game. Alex and Harry were both doing a brilliant job of playing as modern attacking full backs and it was on one of Harry\'s surges forward that he fed Kyle who in turn picked out Ari in space, then a neat half turn, a run, a dribble and Ari sealed his hat-trick with a good strike from just inside the area. Surely now we had this in the bag?
Not quite and again fatigue started to take its toll as Northside pushed forward. With 3 minutes left on the clock, the ref awarded Northside a free kick some distance outside our area and the Northside player struck as sweet a free kick as you\'ll see in many a Sunday, it sailed over our wall and into the top corner, a genuine worldy and one you could only step back and applaud.
Everyone dug deep to protect our one-goal lead for the final couple of minutes, Joe even had a run out from the back into the opposition half, but it was now a case of sterling defending from the whole team as we saw the time out. The final whistle was greeted with cheers from the Robins fans and sporting applause from Northside as we started the season with a hard-fought win.
Every player played superbly today, they all had to dig deep to see out the game, and that resilience and determination was very pleasing to see. The attacking play was at times a real joy to watch, some lovely creative play and in the end we were good value for a win against a side we know will always give us a good game. The result, and more importantly the performance, bode well for what promises to be some exciting football to come this season.
Well done, lads, excellent start!
- Ari (1)
- Kyle (9)
- Ari (pen) (57)
- Nathan (63)
- Ari (69)
Player of the Match
A fine league debut for Ari, scored a hat-trick, played really well all game, linked up well with Kyle, Nathan and Gustavo, constantly busy up front, great game!
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