Our first fixture of 2019, away to Champion Sports Weymouth in the SWCYL Gary Else Cup, brought some much needed game time.
Having finished 2018 in the right manner it was important to get back to the same level of match play as soon as possible, which we did.
Controlling the ball well with good pace of passing, we put our hosts on the back foot as we probed the pitch to break the lines. Although we had good ball possession, Champion kept it tight with a good shape and energetic defending.
As the game developed the chances started to come; Coppin and Franco tested the goalkeeper with a number of opportunities that the keeper was equal to. Dodd and Purser also teased their markers and managed to get some half chances, but again the keeper stood firm.
Then came a timely reminder that we weren’t pressuring Champion enough and they countered! Winning a free kick from the attack they subsequently hit the crossbar and registered their first opportunity. This didn’t curtail our advances but did act as a reference point on defending from the front and distances between the lines.
With such a good display from the Champion keeper it was looking like a perfect finish would be required to pass him. Coppin’s approach play was on-point and while his strike wasn’t the cleanest it was on target, wriggling through the keeper’s hands to open the scoring.
Before the interval, Champion posed a couple of counters that again caused a level of concern as their strikers’ pace and purpose gave Sandford, Mead and Salter some need to manoeuvre to check.
In the second half it was a case of using the same approach play, pressing on the loose ball and seeking more clinical finishing.
Champion changed shape for the initial minutes and got behind the flank midfielders as they looked for a quick reply. Byrne and Biggs kept the middle reasonably well managed, but the full backs had to be alert with three attackers staying high and receiving early long balls. Once Westbrook and Popaj gauged our hosts’ intent they ensured we didn’t concede space and settled into commanding the ball for good periods. Credit to Sandford, Mead, Popaj, Salter, Westbrook and the rest of the team for keeping a clean sheet.
Coppin went on to complete his brace with an elusive run and a composed moment to evade the keeper’s lunge to pass the ball into the net.
Mahdy then replaced an injured Purser, with one of his contributions putting the ball into a great area for Franco. With a first time effort Franco steered it narrowly wide of the post. Mason then came on to replace Mead who was also suffering a touch of pain with a slight injury. This was Mason’s first game since his injury in mid November, so this gently eased him back into game time.
In all, a reasonable return to action. General play was good, we had a few moments that required timely decisions and we kept a clean sheet. Being a touch more clinical in front of goal will yield more reward in future games.
Champion Sports Weymouth 0 Team BTC 2
Man of the match:
Will Westbrook, who didn’t put a pass astray all game.