Winning Streak Over, But Pirates Continue To Impress
(Sunday 26th October 2014)
The Pirates hopes of extending their winning run to 3 games unfortunately ended in close encounter at Skull N’Bones Park, but despite the loss the high level of performance continued, leaving plenty of confidence of further wins in the upcoming fixtures.
Plymouth Hope came in to the game on the back of 3 straight wins in the League themselves & having beaten The Pirates 6-0 early on in the season the stage was set for the Home side to show just how much they have improved in the past couple of weeks. Brad Smith replaced the unavailable Paul Millar in the centre of midfield, but that was the only change to the starting XI from last weeks win at Walkhampton. Steve Lacy & James Berntsen returned to the squad after missing the last game, both named as substitutes on the day.
Before the kickoff both sets of players observed a minute silence following the tragic death of a young Footballer a week earlier, playing for a team in Bow, near Crediton vs Thorverton.
The game got under way, Plymouth Hope sporting their usual Yellow & Green strip made a bright start, forcing 4 corners in the opening 10mins, The Pirates struggled to hold off the long ball nature of the Away sides game & on 15mins the early pressure would tell with the opening goal. One of the prior mentioned long balls found its way past 3 Pirates defenders & after a slight bobble on the penalty spot the No11 Centre Forward drilled the opener home, Keeper Jones had no chance. 0-1.
The set back seemed to awaken The Pirates from their slow start & the Football that had yielded back to back wins was starting to shine through, on 20mins forward Callum Knight & Brad Smith created a great chance to level things up. Knight charging down the Keeper from a short back pass, resulting in the ball falling to Smith, His clipped ball back to Knight who was very unlucky to see His brilliant overhead kicked effort bounce agonisingly on top the roof of the net. The pressure continued to flow in the Right to Left direction, but on 23mins a hugely fortunate sucker punch dented The Pirate charge. Keeper Rhys Jones made a super diving save from a 20yard strike but from the resulting corner the fluke occurred… The cross sailing over everyone & dropping in. 0-2.
Undeterred The Pirates got back on the front foot, Brad Smith making Manager Kris Carpenter aware that Defensively too many easy headers were being given resulting in the Home side being penned in, so the switch was made for Smith to switch to Centre Back, Nick Errington moving in to the Midfield, it would be a change that improve the structure of the side superbly. on 33mins the 1st chance came, Knight forcing the Plymouth Hope Keeper into a brilliant low save from 20yards, it was clear confidence was growing with every attack, but, once again some poor defending would cost the men in Red, a 37th minute freekick was headed home unchallenged & it was back to square one again! 0-3. The good news was it took barely a minute to fire a response, once again Callum Knight’s pace causing problems for the square looking Hope defence & as the Keeper raced from goal to close the angle His clumsy challenge blocking Knight’s run resulted in a penalty being awarded. After missing the previous FIVE Penalties the next man in line to break the run was Michael Brown, despite the clearly audible sledging Brown looked calm & composed, striding up & right footed sending the ball low in to the bottom corner: MVI_0026 His 1st ever Pirates goal. 1-3. Game on.
Before the Half-Time break The Pirates were dealt a blow of a different kind though, Adam Luckham forced off due to a shin injury, James Berntsen replacing Him, slotting in at Right Back, with Michael Brown switching to Left back & Skipper Enda Hannigan reverting to Midfield. The second half would prove to be a very different game for both sides.
Getting under way in the second period it was clear Plymouth Hope were happy to sit back & play ‘The Dark Arts’ to secure the win they craved. Constant over acting, diving & time wasting were a feature of the opening 15mins, leaving Pirates players, management & supporters growing ever more frustrated with the antics. However, the wind was very much in the sails of the Home side, Callum Knight crossing for Nick Errington to head narrowly wide on 47mins & Knight himself going close a few mins later with a low drive. on 58mins the break through came, Brad Smith played a sublime through ball directly through the heart of Hope’s back 4 allowing you know who to calmly round the Keeper & brilliantly avoid 2 Defenders on the line with His low finish, Callum Knight’s 5th goal in 4 starts for The Pirates! The scoreline now 2-3 the men in Red were totally dominant, Brad Smith glancing a header narrowly wide & Knight continuing to get chances to run at the hapless No4 for Plymouth Hope. Substitutes were made, Carpenter electing to introduce Steve Lacy on the right of Midfield & Sean Cross on upfront replacing Dan Amador & Greg Davis, the formation switching to 4-4-2, it was all out attack to get the point they deserved.
Agonisingly for the Home side the goal just wouldn’t come, despite pressuring high up the field & having a lot of the ball the final pass just wasn’t clicking, Plymouth Hope begin to get to grips with the aerial assault & with just 5mins to play the killer 4th goal came. Defenders James Ewing & James Berntsen were caught out unluckily in the Right Back position & with 4 on 2 in terms of numbers Hope converted the chance to counter & strike the game finishing goal, it was a crushing blow to The Pirates who more than merited a point for the 2nd half performance alone, but alas it was not to be. The men in Red finishing the game with 10men as Captain Enda Hannigan was helped from the pitch after taking a heavy blow to the head. As the whistle blew for Full-Time heads were down, but that only proves just how far the team have come in the past few weeks, that they now feel disappointed not getting anything from a team running away with 2nd place in the League. Onwards & upwards.
In order to sum this game up I would have to touch on the end part of the above, feeling gutted that no points came from a game against a side that had beaten The Pirates 6-0 only a few short months ago says an awful lot. The performance levels of each & every player continue to be of an extremely high standard, competition for places in the squad let alone the team is helping to improve the togetherness of the side & the introduction of training on a Monday is giving those unable to break in to the squad the chance to both motivate themselves & drive the current 1st teamers to maintain their high level performances. Smeaton Homes lie in wait in a fortnights time for Carpenter’s men, a fixture all are determined to notch another 3points from. COYP.
The Man Of The Match award this week goes to Brad Smith. Since joining The Pirates 3 weeks ago Brad has shown real commitment, drive & ability. Having many years behind Him as both a Player & qualified Coach His input to the team has been huge, driving the team on when legs are fading & lending experience during games to make changes as displayed today, He is a very welcome addition to The Pirates & today really stood out as the A+ performer. Congrats Brad.
Goal Scorers: Brown (38 Pen) Knight (58)
Jones, Brown, Errington, Ewing, Hannigan (c) Reed, Luckham, Smith, Amador, Davis, Knight.
Cross, Berntsen, Lacy.
Man Of The Match: Brad Smith