Manager: Richard Bruce
U10′s Championship League
Match Result: KPR Reds 1; Epsom Eagles 0
Team: Pip (GK), Sacha; Jack; Eddie; Ben; Joe; Jackson; Henryk; Tarun
After a two week break due to league scheduling, and dropping two points in their last game, the Reds were back in action welcoming to NSR Epsom Eagles. Having created a number of chances in the last game that weren’t converted, in addition to the usual passing drills the coaches focused the warm up on shooting – giving the parents behind the goal some early morning exercise too!
Immediately from the kick off Epsom were pressing the ball, with the first exchanges a little scrappy and neither team bringing the ball under real control. The Reds did manage to get into their stride first, with some good play down the right flank with Sacha and Ben combining well driving the Reds forward, and then the same pair teaming up again with Scaha breaking down an Epsom attack feeding Ben with a beauty of a through ball, and Ben sidestepping the Epsom defence and sharp pass to the onrunning Joe with the shot just wide. The Reds good play continued, next down the left with Jackson running at the Epsom defence at pace before cutting in wrong footing Epsom and laying off to Joe, who made a sharp first time pass to Tarun with a good shot well saved by the Epsom keeper. The Reds were started to excerpt some pressure, with Epsom conceding a number of corners and some more near misses from KPR.
While the Reds were looking to get on top, Epsom were clearly not going to allow the Reds to dictate the play, and began to up their intensity to disrupt Reds passing, resulting in Epsom creating a number of chances of their own breaking quickly when the boys play broke down – and Pip needing to make a couple of sharp saves. The game was settling into a pattern with Reds building pressure and Epsom countering – and a close game was unfolding.
KPR were creating more chances, and continued to press with Joe bursting through the middle making a neatly weighted pass for Jackson out running the Epsom defence with the shot just wide of the left post; and Sacha releasing Ben again creating danger and forcing another Reds corner. On the left, Jack and Jackson were combining well and driving forward, with a smartly taken throw in and Jack curling in a dangerous ball for Tarun again going close. Next up, Joe skipped past the Epsom defence making space for the shot – but again well saved and turned behind for another KPR corner. KPR were getting closer, but still no breakthrough!
KPR were having a good spell and were clearly looking to convert – and convert they did. More driving pressure from Jack led to another corner. Joe whipped in a dangerous ball which Jackson smartly controlled and then turned, firing off a shot from close range, well saved by the Epsom keeper but too hot to hold on to and the loose ball hit home by a very alert Tarun. 1-0 KPR.
The goal was a fair return for the the Reds first period of play, but Epsom were clearly determined to fight back, and went close a couple of minutes later with a break down the left leading to a chance from six yards only to be hit over the bar – in no small part thanks to the bravery of Pip throwing himself at the ball at the feet of the Epsom forward. And despite the good spell, KPR were now giving the ball away on occasion in their own half inviting some pressure in the face of some high intensity from Epsom.
KPR did also keep the attacking play going, with a super Joe burst through the middle and shot just wide. And from the goal kick, the Epsom keeper, having an excellent game, miscued with the ball which was hit straight to Tarun 30 yards out and the keeper stranded on the edge of the box. Tarun controlled the ball, looked up, and hit a super curler back bound for the top corner – only for the ball to rattle back off the left post. So close to 2-0! More Reds pressure came immediately from a Henryk dribbling run at pace past the Epsom defenders and sharp pass to Tarun, again with the chance well saved, and Ben beating his defender feeding Tarun for another chance.
While KPR had the majority of possession, Epsom were looking dangerous, with a number of longer balls through – including one cut out by Jackson with a header that traveled the full half of the pitch! Epsom were making KPR work hard, with Eddie tracking back well and standing strong against some fair but tough tackling, and providing neat link play and control on the right. And before we knew it the half time whistle came. A somewhat breathless first half came to an end, and while the Reds could have scored at 2, maybe 3, Epsom also could also have a scored. A finely poised game was unfolding…
The second half got underway and the pattern of the latter part of the first half continued – the Reds looking to pass forward and create chances, and Epsom having great intensity and breaking quickly. The first chance fell to Epsom with a free kick within range, but the kick found the Reds wall doing its job (thanks to Ben’s backside!) KPR responded quickly, with Henryk breaking forward and sharp pass to Ben, but Ben tackled hard to deny a Reds chance.
Both teams were looking for a goal and as the play became somewhat stretched and open, Jack was having an outstanding game for the Reds mopping up Epsom attacks with pace and accuracy of pass out of defence on a number of occasions. Eddie was also playing with real strength against some intense Epsom pressure and linking sharp passes with Joe, driving the boys forward on the right flank. The Reds continued to pass well with possession at pace, with Jackson, Henryk and Joe combining, creating a chance for Tarun with a firm strike but met with a really good save from the Epsom keeper.
As the half wore on, both teams were still searching for a goal, with the Reds showing some good physicality, intensity and passing leading to a number of corners, with a super Henryk delivery met by a Joe volley coming mighty close. However, the play remained end to end, with one of the runs of the game – nearly the full length of the pitch – from Epsom’s defender leading to a foul on the edge of the Reds box; this time the free kick going over – but another Epsom chance. Next up was more Reds attacking play, with Ben running clear and jinking past the last defender but unlucky to miscue the strike. And at the KPR end, Pip making another solid save hoovering up a dipping strike from Epsom. End to end stuff!
With the final whistle approaching both teams were still searching for a goal. First a foul outside the box lead to a Jack special free kick, a screamer tipped onto the middle of the bar by the Epsom keeper. Then as the final minutes came KPR were starting to assert themselves and looking the stronger team, with a flowing move via Jackson, Henryk and Joe snapping together passes freeing Eddie for a well struck low shot at goal, and another excellent save from the Epsom keeper, which turned out to be the final play of an action packed game.
A tightly fought contest against a team with some really good players and plenty of determination and intensity. Epsom were unlucky not to score, but with more clear chances, the Reds on balance achieved a well deserved and hard fought win. The league certainly seems to be getting even more competitive!
Man of the Match: Ben