Encouraging signs as U21s fall to Maidenhead Utd
Lessons learnt against one of the stronger Suburban League sides
On Saturday at Longmead, the Under-21s met a good, mature Maidenhead team who played to their strengths and this proved to be effective throughout despite the efforts of our young squad.
Straight from the kick-off the ball was played down the left where a cross was driven in and poked past Ibrahim Attiah into the net giving the visitors the lead after just 22 seconds. A goal down within the first minute was obviously the worst start we could have wanted after some good previous defensive displays.
This would now be a test of character and making sure we did not crumble early on and have a heavy defeat on our hands. Maidenhead kept pumping the ball forward at every opportunity but we coped quite well with this as we tried to reduce the amount of chances that the opposition could create around our box.
We also had enough about us going forward although still with a lot to learn. It was to be the Angels that would equalise after 10 minutes, with the ball being half cleared by the Maidenhead defence, Tomi Oblere was there to strike from 25 yards out as his arrowed shot flew into the net past the despairing keeper. The boys were delighted with this and an air of excitement came about them for the next few minutes.
However five minutes before half time another driven cross was tapped home at the back post to restore Maidenhead’s lead. We went into the break 2-1 down but had some good phases of play in the final third and created chances of our own which was a positive after previous performances and shows the players are taking on board what we are coaching and confidence is coming along with the players getting more used to each other.
The second half was more about backs to the wall as Maidenhead kept pumping the ball forward and after 73 minutes, a long shot was spilt by Ibrahim Attiah, who has been playing well, that allowed the Maidenhead striker to pounce and finish for the visitors third goal.
It was the fact that the Maidenhead players were quicker to second balls and had a little bit more know-how that gave them the edge and to have the chances they did is more evidence to back this up. We spent the last half an hour of the game pushing on and pumping the ball forward in the hope that our guys could learn to anticipate the second balls and gain some valuable experience in trying to keep an opposition pinned in.
A couple of half chances came our way and with just a couple of minutes left a chance fell to Samuel Oyeniran with the goal at his mercy but he scuffed his shot and it slipped past the post. A match fit Samuel would not have missed this as more composure would have been shown and the young striker will definitely learn from this.
The end result may have been a 3-1 defeat but further lessons have been learnt. So far we have played some good sides and it will be interesting to see now how we fare against some of the teams in the bottom half of the league as I know our players have plenty of potential and individual ability, we just need to keep working together to bring a positive result.