Winning End To The Season For Superb Pirates
(Wednesday 15th April 2015)
Taking to the field on a bright sunny evening at Victoria Park this was the final competitive game of The Pirates season & after some hard graft & battling qualities it would be a winning end to the season. Despite coming in to the game as the underdogs playing against a side in the Division above them the men in Red put in arguably their best performance of the season & despite a nervy final 15mins, were very deserving of their win, in truth it could & should have been a more comfortable.
Brad Smith was named Captain for the 1st time for this game & Manager Kris Carpenter had chosen to make a few changes to the squad & starting XI as well as giving a couple of players new roles in the team. Michael Brown & Enda Hannigan were moved to fullback roles, with usual Right Back James Berntsen moved in to one of the holding roles along side Nick Errington, ahead of those two saw Chris Stephens given the nod, with Callum Knight also returning on the left hand side attacking role, Sam Bruty remained the target man up front. They were changes that would pay off!
The game got under way at 6:15pm, The Pirates kicking from left to right in the 1st half, lining up in the now customary 4-2-3-1 it was clear AFC Friary we confused early on as a speedy start from the away side left them puffing hard! On 5mins came the 1st opportunity, Chris Stephens swinging in a left sided corner finding the in rushing Brad Smith who’s header was well tipped away by the Home keeper & narrowly out of the reach of James Berntsen who was on hand looking for the 2nd ball rebound. The next clear chance would come for The Friary, a cross coming in from the right was smashed goal wards by the centre forward but Richard Johns making a truly superb reflex save tipping the shot brilliantly over the bar at the near post to keep the score at 0-0.
The game went in to somewhat of a lull for the next 15mins both teams exchanging possession, The Pirates forcing 4 or 5 corners, with Friary largely relying on counter attacks, something messes Smith & Ewing were comfortably seeing off, then on 27mins came the breakthrough. Callum Knight playing a long cross field pass in to the path of Sam Bruty who’s clever flick on was taken on the chest by Nick Errington on the half turn 25yards from goal & without another thought in His mind the Midfield man crashed a looping volley goal wards, seemingly gathering pace as it went, the ball nestled perfectly in the left hand corner, out of reach from the despairing dive of the Friary keeper. 0-1.
Hot in the heels of Errington’s terrific goal The Pirates could smell blood, immediately getting back on the front foot from the restart, playing some exceptional Football in the process & after a solid 10mins of pressure the reward would come. With 39mins on the clock Sam Bruty saw the opportunity to pressure the Friary full back in to a mistake in the left back area robbing Him of the ball & after taking a touch to compose Himself delivered a perfectly weighted cross to the back post, where Callum Knight was waiting, launching Himself at the ball & heading home from 10 yards out, a superbly crafted & taken goal, it was 0-2. There was even chance for Enda Hannigan to test the Home side’s keeper once again before the break, but a good save denied the 3rd goal. The Referee Roger Cole blew His whistle shortly after, at the break The Pirates were in control, 0-2 up.
The 2nd half got under way, no changes for either side, Pirates Boss Carpenter reminding His side at Half-Time that the game was far from won at this stage, with that in mind the men in Red pressed hard to grab a 3rd & killer goal, Callum Knight got a shot away after a good ball from Stephens which was well saved & Knight Himself turning provider a minute later crossing for Errington who again saw his effort well blocked by the keeper. The pressing continued on into the 60th minute, Bruty & Millar both unlucky not to get in on goal in the lapsed period of time, just before the turn of the 60th minute Chris Stephens game was over, a pulled thigh muscle forcing Him off, Aaron Reed was his replacement. A minute later came a hotty disputed decision, Callum Knight was chopped down racing towards goal, from the touchline a penalty appeared to be the decision, but after reviewing a freekick was the award, inches outside the box, from the resulting kick Errington’s shot was blocked.
Despite the heavy pressure & numerous chances that 3rd goal just wasn’t coming for The Pirates & on 67mins came a warning shot that the game was no way over yet, Friary really should have pulled a goal back from a right wing cross to the back post & a free shot on goal but the Striker blazed over! Only a minute later though they would notch, a similar ball over the top from the opposite side of the pitch got the centre forward in on goal, Brad Smith very unlucky not to make the interception & despite James Ewing’s best efforts to cover the speed of the pitch helped the bounce & the forward raced clear placing a low shot under Johns from 12 yards to make it 1-2. Game on.
Stung by the goal back The Pirates were forced back on their heels, the time to dig in was clearly now, Enda Hannigan & James Ewing in particular making some superb slide tackles & headers in the efforts to clear the attacking Friary forward line, with the game on a knife edge Carpenter made the change to take off Michael Brown, who had had a very good game, moving the more experienced James Berntsen back in to Right Back & bringing Sam Bruty back in to the holding position to see out the game, Sean Cross, making His 23rd appearance of the season was Brown’s replacement, taking up the forward role with the instruction of chasing down every lose ball he could. The Pirates were doing a great job at holding the lead, on 79mins could even have got that 3rd killer goal, once again Callum Knight was the architect, setting up Aaron Reed, who’s ferocious drive was well saved, despite that 3rd goal not arriving the men in Red saw out the remaining time, some excellent leadership from Brad Smith marshalling His defence along with the ever talkative Richard Johns got The Pirates over the line, ending the season in the best possible way, WINNING!
Errington (27) Knight (39)
Johns, Brown, Smith (C), Ewing, Hannigan, Errington, Berntsen, Knight, Stephens, Millar, Bruty.
Reed, Cross, Lacy.
Match Sum Up
Short & sweet match sum up on today’s game, BRILLIANT! From back to front the whole team were superb, fighting for each other, encouraging each other, playing as a unit & playing some really excellent Football to boot! Ending the season with such a good result will only fuel the players looking ahead to the 2015/16 campaign & watching performances like today I say BRING IT ON!
Man Of The Match
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to The Team! Whilst it could be seen as a bit of a cop out I wanted to award the whole team the MOTM award this week, from the 1st game of the season to the last the Boys have all been superb, a pleasure to work with in truth, yes there have been some down periods, but many more more up’s overall, Yes there are a few special mentions today for Captain Brad Smith, Nick Errington, Callum Knight & Paul Millar who were all superb, but singling out just one in amongst such a good team performance would be unfair in truth, so, congrats ALL! COYP!
Man Of The Match: The Team!