Wow, what a finish…so close, just to get pipped on the buzzer!
But we’ll get back to the finish later. I will say though I am super proud of the boys resilience and the fight they showed today.
Two boys played their 50th games for the Rovers today. James P and Matthew G – both boys are progressing at a rate of knots in their football journey over the past couple of years and will hopefully play many more games in the green and gold. James and Matty were our captains.
We kicked into the wind in the first quarter and not long in Ollie Mc got a knock to the head, so needed to take a 20-minute break to be observed. This put us back to 17 players, but the boys continued to give it their all. The midfield were working hard, led by Matty G but well supported by Sidney, Thomas, Peter and Nate.
The backline was under pressure but Jake was leading from the last line of defence, James P was off to a really good start, and Ollie and Geordie were also defending stoutly. We worked hard, but conceded three goals – two whilst we were playing one short.
The best bit of play that for the quarter saw James C at half forward pass the ball to James B who got a handpass out to Jack Mc who took a shot but was only able to register a point. Great linking play by the boys.
A couple of minutes into the second quarter saw our numbers even up and we took control of the game. James C was on fire in the middle getting the ball down to Sidney, Jack Mc, Peter and Mitch. Sidney was in everything – he showed a fearless attack on the ball, chased hard and contested everything – he also got a tonne of the pill. Thomas continued his great form out of last week and was in the play all day.
Up front Niko had a great patch, almost conjured a goal and chased hard when we didn’t have the ball. Bailey M was putting his light frame on the line down back. All this hard work started to pay dividends.
Nate was rewarded for a great tackle on the half forward line before Thomas took the advantage, played on and kicked our first goal. Not long after James C, who was dominating the hit outs, gained possession in a pack at centre half forward, pushed his way through and sent a long bomb through the big sticks. We were on fire now and we closed the quarter out with a great snap by Ollie Mc from deep in the forward pocket. He centred the ball but it took and enormous off-break and bounced through for a goal (that was one back after we were on the receiving end of a similar St Bedes goal in the first quarter).
At half time there was nothing in it – we trailed by two points but had all the momentum. We talked to the boys about sticking to their man and being extra accountable as we kicked into the wind in the third. The boys went out and ran hard. We continued our second quarter domination of the general play and were rewarded with a couple of goals.
These goals were created with some inspiring teamwork – not individual efforts. We looked dangerous across the centre and particularly slippery through half forward. There were several efforts involving our forward line combining – James B, James P, Thomas, Nate and Matthew all in the play. Our first goal came from a great James P handpass to a running Jack Mc who passed the ball out in front of Matty G at centre half forward. Under pressure, Matty forced the ball forward before James B collected the ball, put in a nice sidestep around his opponent and kicked truly – great Rovers team footy!
In a similar fashion, the next goal started with James B (who was having a cracking quarter) getting the ball to Jack Mc, who was running St Bedes ragged, he passed the ball to Matty G. Matty was under some fierce pressure, but moved the ball forward to Nate who picked up the ball and kicked truly. We could see enormous belief and confidence coming out in the boys now.
Stef had moved to centre half back but was all over the ground showing great accountability and getting into plenty of the play. James C continued his great game and was pushing himself to his limits. Mitch and Geordie were like rocks down back and Bailey S was sent down back to provide some strength in the contest, which he certainly gave us. Jake and Robbie rounded out a very solid and cohesive back half.
Ollie F ran hard on the wing. I’ve used Ollie all over the ground this year. He is proving to be a terrific utility. I know I will always get a full effort, a never say die approach, never out of the contest. By the end of this year I am sure Ollie will start to realise just how much potential he has. The wing is new to him and the last two weeks he has been super impressive.
At three quarter time we held a handy two goal lead. We went out full of confidence, however, St Bedes had received a rev up and came out to play. They push relentlessly into their attacking half – assisted by a wind that had turned around on us. Thomas rounded out a terrific game again. No bounces today but a lot of tackling (I think he may have led our tackle count) and disciplined work, underpinned by hard running.
Peter fought out the game. He has been a great addition to the club and also provided lots of run today. I put him down back early in the last – again a position unfamiliar to him but without complaint he took the challenge head on and then moved back onto the ball late to try help us get the ball forward.
The defence repelled attack after attack. Jake continued to work really hard, James B continued his great form down back, clearing the ball. Mitch, Stefan and Nate worked tirelessly across the half back line all quarter. Bailey S went onto the wing and played with a real defensive mindset. The onballers continued to do their best to help the defence clear the St Bedes attacking moves. Matty G, Sidney, Ollie M and Jack Mc gave it their all.
With 20 seconds to go we were five points up, St Bedes received a free kick that they were able to convert. The boys can feel desperately unlucky – they gave it their all and I’m very proud of them. We are making head way and now grading is over and the ladder is reset I’m looking forward to working with these boys on the season again.
Keep your chins up boys, stick together – I’m proud of the support and encouragement you gave each other after the match. This is a great sign of team focus. Our goal is to be the best team we can be – we are on our way.
Special mention to Max B and Jack W who had commitments that prevented them from playing in our game this afternoon. They both made themselves available this morning for the U13’s who were short. Well done boys.
Coach – Damo
Hampton Rovers – Best Mates!
BTW – Boys make sure you touch your football 100 times each day!!