U11: Chipping Norton Swifts vs Yarnton Blues
By Luke Newman
Swifts' U11s early season struggles in their new format continued, as they let a convincing scoreline slip in their league game with Yarnton Blues at Greystones.
From their last home game at Greystones, against Charlbury, Swifts have made a slight shift in their shape, and formation. They opted for a 2-1-4-1, giving support to Ben Seward, who was a lone defender on that day. This time around; it was both Seward and Daniel McAndrew who sat in front of Oliver Hayes as the defensive duo. Jacob Kedward played in a defensive midfield role, acting as a screen for an attacking four from right to left of Theo Petrosanu, Alex Goode, Joe Walsh, and Oliver Edwards - who were all supporting Beau Lawrence, the lone striker. From the bench, both Henry Clements and Tom Sayers made appearances, the former being introduced to the action in the first half.
It was the visitors, Yarnton, who settled down the quickest after the first whistle - and created the first couple of half-chances of the game. They were moving the ball quickly around the edge of the box, and pressing forward wherever possible - but couldn't find a through pass to take the initiative early on. Instead, Swifts found a way through with their very first attack on the Yarnton goal - Oliver Edwards picked the ball up deep in the left corner of the pitch after a Yarnton attack; he could only punt the ball upfield to relieve the danger. Beau Lawrence did well to hold the ball up for Swifts though, and after exchanging passes with Oliver Edwards again, Lawrence drove forward with the ball for all of 40-50 yards, terrifying the visitors defence, before the ball was spread wide to Theo Petrosanu. His cross-come-shot sailed over the head of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Suddenly, Swifts found themselves ahead, and their confidence sky-rocketed.
The game was now a fairly even one. Swifts had come out of their shell, and were starting to play the type of football that many have seen them play in the past. Both sides were just lacking that final pass until with 10 minutes of the first half to go, Swifts found another. A brilliantly worked goal, started and finished by Jacob Kedward - he won the ball back for his team just ahead of the halfway line before playing into Theo Petrosanu, who took two touches, worked the ball onto his right foot, and looked to fizz a cross into the box. Again, the cross was testing for the Yarnton goalkeeper, who parried into Beau Lawrence in front of goal. A brilliant last ditch tackle from the defender prevented Lawrence from tapping the ball in, but instead, it fell back to Jacob Kedward, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner and doubled the Swifts lead, with his second goal in as many games.
Soon after, still within the first half, Swifts had scored again. Henry Clements, now off the bench and on the right wing, spun in behind the Yarnton back line to run onto a throw-in and was clear on goal - he cut the ball back to the edge of the box for Joe Walsh, whose first-time effort on goal was blocked by a mixture of defender and goalkeeper, with the loose ball again dropping to Theo Petrosanu, who doubled his tally for the day with a comfortable finish on the rebound.
Swifts continued to create before the first half was up - a gorgeous move between Henry Clements, Theo Petrosanu and Jacob Kedward sent the latter clear on goal, who shot just wide. Another good move saw Henry Clements have his cross half-cleared, before Theo Petrosanu clipped the outside of the right hand post. Swifts were threatening to run away with the game.
The half time team talk asked for much more of the same. Swifts seemed to be cruising in the latter stages of the half and as mentioned, it looked only a matter of time before they finished the game off comfortably. However, after Yarnton scored immediately from the kick off of the second half - their number 8 skipping past 3 players before forcing a brilliant save from Oliver Hayes, only to see the rebound fall straight back for a tap in - the confidence of the Swifts team somehow evaporated into thin air.
Suddenly they weren't making tackles, their passing wasn't anywhere near as positive or precise, they weren't making runs in behind, they weren't creating chances. Suddenly they looked shaky at the back, they weren't marking their opposite numbers; and they somehow allowed a game firmly in their control slip, as Yarnton found a way to come away from Greystones with a result.
A harsh lesson for Swifts; but one they will need to learn from quickly, and if they do, it will make them much stronger. The quality is there, the application sometimes, isn't. An unfortunate circumstance, but if Swifts can find that level of focus week on week, they will be a force. The team will hope to build on the positives, and perform again next week, when they face Combe Junior Sports at Greystones (October 6th).