News and Match Reports
Sunday 23rd March - Crosspool 6 Hillsbro Pumas 0
The last game of a long but successful season for the Crosspool Reds against a Hillsborough Pumas side battling to stay in League C. We started well, passing the ball through the thirds and creating chances. Ethan impressed playing in an unfamiliar left wing-back role and was unlucky with a left foot shot that hit the inside of the post, rebounding across the line before their defender cleared. Taylor was also causing them problems on the other flank, while Ed and Lewis in the middle moved the ball around well. We were a little guilty of dwelling on the ball further back and were almost caught a couple of times when Archie had to be smart off his line to clear. Alex's movement up front and Joe's probing from the middle saw Hillsborough on the back foot even though they had a strong wind behind them. Dylan and Ben defended stoutly at the back, frustrating their forwards with their calm authority. Our superiority eventually told when a fierce shot from Ed smacked the post but this time fell to a red shirt with Lewis putting away his 18th goal of the season. Ethan soon added a 2nd with a crisp left-foot finish into the bottom corner, rounding off an excellent first-half performance. Luke came on in the middle of the park for Lewis and slotted in well, passing the ball accurately to his team-mates and almost getting on the end of a pass from Joe after a slalom run into the area.Taylor was unlucky not to add a third from the penalty spot with the whistle for half-time being blown soon after.
The 2nd half saw more of the same. Hillsborough couldn't cope with our passing and movement and resorted to trying to kick what were mostly shadows by the time they got there! Ben moved up front to give their forwards a break and try and put some daylight between him and Archie. Joe was really unlucky after a great bit of skill on the edge of the box and a curling shot which just clipped the outside of the left upright. After another slick Crosspool move, Ed scored goal number 46 with a trademark run and finish. Taylor then scored his 16th of the season with an absolute screamer from well outside the penalty area - goal of the game (again!). Joe then made it 5-0 with a neat finish to draw level with Lewis as 2nd top scorer. Archie came out of net to play in midfield with Ethan replacing him. Alex moved into a deeper lying role and showed his class playing the ball out impressively from the back. Dylan moved further forward looking to add his name to the score sheet. We were awarded another penalty after Ed was brought down in the area and, with Ed lying on the floor injured, his mate Archie ran right past him to claim the penalty! Luckily Ed picked himself up to watch Archie smash the ball into the back of the net and draw level with Ben and Ethan with his goal tally of 4 for the season (plus another clean sheet!). His celebrations were as low-key as usual! Luke was unlucky not to add a 7th after Ed played him in with a great cross-field ball. The whistle went to signal victory number 19 for the Crosspool Reds and draw the curtain on a fantastic season for the lads which has seen them play some lovely football, rightly being crowned league champions.
A good performance from all 10 players with Ethan impressing in a new role and Ed making an excellent contribution. Both were unlucky to be pipped to the man of the man performance by Joe who, after a slow start, grew into the game, showcasing his ability on the ball, making important tackles, finding his team-mates with the ball and grabbing a well deserved goal
Sunday 16th March - Ecclesall Rangers 0 Crosspool 4
Campione Campione ole ole ole
Good teams always react to setbacks and we proved just what a good team we are with an excellent victory to clinch the Division C title. It's been a long hard season and we still have one game left against relegation battlers Hillsborough Pumas but today was all about claiming the trophy that we'd worked so hard to get our hands on. It was a bit of a nervous start with the previous days result maybe playing on our minds. Ecclesall were well up for the game and playing some good football from the back in difficult conditions. Our football wasn't as free flowing as it has been but we were working hard for each other and looked determined to get the result. We made some good chances but seemed a bit reluctant to shoot. Their keeper made some great saves and their defence held strong. We eventually got the breakthrough through top scorer Ed following a good move. Taylor and John were well in charge in the middle of the field and Ethan was a welcome addition to our back line with his no-nonsense defending ,pace and excellent reading of the game. Ed was unlucky not to score after a sweeping move from the back and a great cross from Taylor. Goal line technology was unable to confirm what most of those present thought was a definite goal (apart from Ed and the ref!) The first half drew to a close with us on top but still looking a little worried whenever Ecclesall attacked.
We spoke at half-time about relaxing on the ball and playing our football but we started much the same as the first until Joe showed great composure to bring down a high ball and finish expertly - 2-0. We now started to show our class with Lewis making some good runs down the right hand side and Joe causing problems down the left. John added a well-deserved third soon after following a good move from the back. Ben and Dylan took charge at the back with Archie sweeping up anything behind them. Luke and Alex came on and showed their class, playing some lovely football. Ed added a fourth soon after and was unlucky not to claim a hatrick with a right footer across the keeper. We started to turn the style on playing some good stuff going forward and making chance after chance but couldn't quite add to our tally.
The game finished 4-0 and Crosspool Reds were at last crowned champions of League C! Well done lads. Man of the match goes to Taylor who picked himself up after the disappointment of the previous day to put in a real captain's performance.
Saturday 15th March - Stocksbridge 4 Crosspool 0
Our first league defeat of the season and we could have no complaints about the result. Stocksbridge got at us from the first whistle, tackling hard and putting us under pressure all over the pitch. We started quite well, creating a chance from the kick off which, on another day, we might have stuck away. Stocksbridge soon got the upper hand though and began to cause us some problems at the back. We struggled to get going, maybe still basking in the glory of our previous victory, and Stocksbridge took full advantage of our complacency to take a 1-0 lead halfway through the first half. We tried to get back on level terms but the middle of the park was congested and we struggled to find the flanks. A couple of chances went begging but Stocksbridge also had chances to extend their lead. The whistle went for half-time with us trailing.
The 2nd half saw us try to get back in the game but, with a strong wind against us and a bobbly pitch, we became frustrated and tried to force the game rather than playing easy balls to our team mates. Stocksbridge scored a 2nd after a mix up at the back and then a really well taken third with their forward lifting the ball over Archie's head. We were now chasing the game and becoming more and more frustrated, struggling to get over our slow start. We created a few more chances but didn't really dominate the way we can and Stocksbridge hit us on the break after another mistake at the back.
All in all, an off day from us all and a big lesson to be learned - never underestimate your opponents. Really disappointing to lose our unbeaten record in the league but the one positive is that we have a game the following day to put things right. Difficult to name a man of the match as we were all below par but Ben just about edged John purely for his effort and determination throughout, despite the scoreline.
Sunday 9th March - Norton Lees 2 Crosspool 5
A tremendous team performance from the lads to defeat their closest rivals and move within 1 point of the Division C title with three games left to play. Right from the first whistle we put Norton on the back foot, pressing high up the pitch and pinning them back in their own half. They did manage to break well on a couple of occasions with long diagonal balls down our right hand side. One of these balls saw us clear for a corner and concede a carbon copy of the goal we conceded in our last game against them. A good delivery to the near post, which our defenders failed to clear and Archie attempted to catch, sailed over him and into the roof of the net. An early setback but one which we reacted brilliantly to. Ed and Taylor terrorised their fullbacks down both flanks, while John and Joe pressured their midfield into mistakes. Dylan, playing between the defence and midfield, showed his game intelligence, finding space and feeding the players ahead of him. Lewis, playing up front, was everywhere, causing their back line some real problems with his intelligent runs and trickery. Within minutes of them scoring we equalised through Lewis after he kept his cool following a goalmouth scramble, expertly clipping the ball into the corner of the net. A second followed soon after following a good run down the line from Joe who squared for Lewis to apply the finish once again. Norton almost equalised after another long through ball to their danger man but Archie came racing out to make a great reaction save. We came back at Norton with a good combination move through the middle involving Dylan, John and Taylor which Lewis got on the end of to claim a well deserved hatrick and move up to joint 2nd top scorer with Alex. After initially struggling to contain their centre forward Ethan and Ben started to get to grips with him and we turned the screw further forward in wave after wave of attack. We could have been awarded two penalties but the referee waved our claims away, their keeper made an excellent double save from Lewis and Ed went close with a couple of left foot efforts. Taylor then scored the goal of the game with an absolute beauty after a free kick was awarded on the right hand side, about 25 yards out. He stepped up and hit a 'Gerrard-esque' shot with his right foot that flew into the top corner leaving their keeper clutching fresh air. His celebration said everything! This was probably our performance of the season and the Norton lads must have wondered if we'd slipped an extra player on at times but it was pure hard work that was giving us the edge. Alex came on to replace Joe in midfield and Luke came on for Lewis after he picked up a knock to his ankle. The whistle blew for half-time with the score at 4-1 and the lads buzzing as they came off - a fantastic first half performance.
The 2nd half saw us change the formation slightly and, while still being on top, just lose a little momentum. Luke was having a great game, spraying passes all over the pitch and really putting himself about. We had a few more chances to score but couldn't quite get our fifth with their keeper making some good saves. Alex was unlucky not to get on the end of a ball into the box and took a bit of a knock to his head. A free kick was awarded to Norton after Archie was adjudged to have handled outside his box, kicking from his hands. The Norton player struck the ball well to the right of our wall and the ball skimmed across the ground into the net. 4-2. Another setback but another great reaction from the lads showing great resilience and character. Ed pounced on a ball across the Norton Lees area and expertly headed into the roof of the net to claim goal number 43 of the season! This knocked the stuffing out of Norton and we were definitely in the ascendancy playing some lovely football and showing some real class on the ball. Ben and Ethan were rock solid at the back making some great tackles, rarely allowing their front men a glimpse of goal. Ben made a great recovery after slipping to somehow get up off the floor and chase down their attacker, applying enough pressure to force him into a mistake. This summed up the performance really. Every single player worked their socks off throughout the whole game and there must have been some tired legs as the game drew to a close (apart from Taylor who hadn't broken sweat despite covering every blade of grass on the pitch!)
A good shout from Joe at the end of the game re man of the match - it was THE TEAM! While there were some brilliant individual performances the lads' togetherness and commitment to the cause was a joy to watch. Well done lads - nearly there!
Sunday 2nd March - Crosspool 9 Dodworth 0
Just a word of warning regarding this match report. There may be the odd typing error due to concentration span issues brought about by our roving reporter's celebratory indulgences.
So, on the manager's 34th birthday, another excellent victory for the Crosspool lads, finally back on Crimicar Lane. After the surprise defeat of our close rivals, Norton Lees, this saw us take a 9 point lead at the top of the table with only 4 games remaining. The champagne is still on ice though as we need to beat Norton and Stocksbridge in our next 2 games to be confirmed as Champions.
The game started slowly on a heavy pitch with Dodworth defending well and Crosspool struggling to play their high tempo game. Their keeper made some excellent saves and our finishing could have been better but we eventually broke the deadlock after about 15 minutes through - you guessed it - Ed Willis. Ethan, pushed into left-midfield, caused problems for their right back putting in some great crosses that we couldn't quite get on the end of. Taylor carried on from where he left off last week with some tireless running and good passing. Ben and John were largely untroubled at the back although Dodworth did break with pace on a couple of occasions. Dylan, resting a knee injury, came on for Joe with John moving onto the right side of midfield. We kept the pressure on the Dodworth back line and should have added to our tally but were thwarted by good defensive blocks and excellent saves. Joe came on for Luke behind Ed and made it 2-0 after a goalmouth scramble which he followed up well with a simple tap in. Taylor added a third from a cross-cum shot after some good work from a throw-in on the right hand side. John made it 4-0 just before half-time after attacking a well-taken corner from Taylor and meeting it with his head. Archie was called into action after a swift break from Dodworth but, despite spending most of the first-half as a spectator, reacted brilliantly to a drilled shot from their centre-forward, parrying well. We came in at the break with a deserved 4-0 lead.
The 2nd half saw us up the tempo a bit with Luke breaking well down the right hand side and putting in some good crosses. Ed was unlucky not to add to his tally after their keeper made another couple of good saves. Ben and Dylan were excellent at the back, not putting a foot wrong and passing confidently from deep. Lewis and John were combining well in the midfield and playing some good balls through to the forwards. Joe scored his 2nd tap in of the day after another goalmouth scramble to make it 5-0. Ben then broke from defence to get on the end of a cross into the box and finish brilliantly with an unstoppable half-volley - goal of the game. After another run down the right hand side Luke crossed into the danger area and the ball ricocheted off their defender and into the net (the dubious goals panel have awarded the goal to Luke!). Lewis scored number 8 after impressing in the centre-forward role and Joe made it 9 with the easiest hatrick ever scored (3 goals totalling 3 yards in distance!). They all count though and this saw Joe move up to third top score with 16 goals, hot on the heels of Alex on 17. An impressive 9-0 victory and some nice words from the Dodworth manager at the end who said we were the best team they'd played by a mile, playing some lovely football. Well done lads.
Man of the match this week could have gone to a few different players with Taylor impressing again in midfield, John looking like he'd been keeping himself in trim while n Lanzarote and Ethan growing into his role on the left. However, Ben Rhodes just edged it. Having ridden up to Crimicar from Walkley on his bike (no mean feat with the wind in his face, although it was noted that he was in the slipstream of his mum and brother!), he then produced a flawless performance winning all of his battles at the back and showing his ability going forward with a well-taken goal which took him ahead of Archie. Well done Ben!
Sunday 23rd Feb - Crosspool 8 Eckington Boys 2
Another game on Wisewood astroturf as our pitch was again unfit. It's now over 3 months since we've played at Crimicar! With only 9 players available the team picked itself. Maybe a bit of complacency set in for the first 5 minutes as our passes were going astray and we allowed Eckington to unsettle us with some robust challenges. Luckily, sharp shooter Ed Willis wasn't affected, his quick-fire hatrick seeing us 3 goals to the good. This seemed to deflate Eckington and we started to string some passes together. Taylor and Ben began bossing the midfield, winning tackles and using the ball well. Once again, Taylor played a lovely though ball for Joe to finish on the volley (almost a carbon copy of his goal from the previous week). We were getting a lot of joy down the left hand side with Luke, Ed and Joe combining well. Lewis was a little isolated on the right but used the ball well whenever it came his way. Dylan and Ethan protected Archie at the back leaving him little to do other than sweep up behind them. Taylor added a 5th just before the break with one of his trademark wonder strikes to round off an excellent first half performance.
The 2nd half saw Ethan push up into the left hand side of midfield and Ben dropping back to partner Dylan. Luke moved to the right, with Lewis switching to the middle and Joe playing behind Ed. We soon scored our 6th goal after a good through ball from Lewis which Luke finished well, across the keeper. Archie was unlucky, once again, not to keep a clean sheet after a deflected shot looped over his head and into the back of the net. Lewis made it 7-1 with a long range shot after a good move through the middle. Eckington scored a decent 2nd soon after but we moved goal poacher Ben Rhodes up front and he rose above everybody from a corner to head home his 3rd goal of the season, drawing himself level with Archie! The final score was 8-2 and saw us extend out lead at the top to 6 points.
Man of the match was easy this week with Taylor head and shoulders above everyone. He won tackles, found space, passed brilliantly and always made himself available to his team mates. Well done.
Sunday 16th Feb - Crosspool 6 Ecclesall Rangers 1
Thanks to the good old British weather there were no other games played in Division C this weekend. So, with Crimicar Lane resembling a boating lake, we switched to the new Wisewood artificial grass pitch and restored our position as league leaders following an impressive win over Ecclesall Rangers. The scoreline suggests a comfortable victory but, on a tight pitch, the first half was a close affair. The game went from end to end with our defensive line just as busy as theirs. We probably looked a little more dangerous when we broke but the game was fairly even when we were awarded a penalty after a handball in the area. Alex D stepped up and struck the ball well but pulled it just wide. Our attacking line up saw us pressuring them high up the pitch but we were getting outnumbered when the Ecclesall lads broke. Dylan and Ben defended well though and Archie's decision making and communication behind them meant we were never too troubled. John came on for Joe to offer a bit of protection in front of the back two and we stated to get on top. Ed eventually broke the deadlock with a good finish after a neat move down the right involving Luke and Lewis. Joe came on for Alex on the left hand side and began to cause their right-back problems with his runs. Lewis worked tirelessly on the right hand side playing some lovely passes into the forwards feet and combining well with his fellow midfielders. Then, after a couple of passes from the back, Taylor received the ball on the right hand side of the pitch and floated a lovely cross-field ball into the path of Joe who calmly side-foot volleyed into the far corner past their keeper. 2-0. Ecclesall still came at us though and were unlucky not to score after a long range shot crashed against the bar and fell to their midfield player with an open goal. Fortunately for us he shot wide. Luke carried on from the previous week and his man of the match performance with some assured play, passing well, holding the ball up well and pressuring their back line. Ed added his second just before the stroke of half time with another good finish to take us into the break with a deserved 3-0 lead.
The 2nd half saw us carry on where we had left off playing some free flowing football on a surface that really suited our style. Ed was unlucky not to get his hatrick early on but you could sense it was only a matter of time. Alex scored from a long range effort after some neat interplay through the middle of the park. Archie had to be alert off his line on a couple of occasions but commandeered his area brilliantly, coming for crosses and playing out from the back. Probably the goal of the game came after a lovely move starting from the back which saw Lewis cross in from the right and Taylor meet on the half-volley to score - a real team goal. John was his usual imperious self nipping any Ecclesall attacks in the bud and selecting his passes with calm authority getting us on the front foot. Ecclesall scored a consolation goal after Archie was unlucky with his clearance falling straight to their midfielder who hit if first time into the corner of the net. It was a real shame for Archie, Ben and Dylan who deserved a clean sheet for their efforts. Ed made sure he restored parity though with his inevitable hatrick and probably his best finish of the game. The score finished 6-1 and saw Crosspool Reds return to their rightful place at the top of the league with only six games left.
Man of the match goes to Archie although it was a close call. All of the lads played well but Archie's decision making, communication and calm authority stood out today. Well done and Happy Birthday for last week!
Sunday 9th Feb - Crosspool 17 Worksop 2
Our biggest victory of the season against a depleted Worksop side again. Not too much to say really other than it was great to see the lads play as a team, passing the ball around throughout the game rather than looking for their own personal glory. Special mention goes to Luke who scored 4 and played some lovely lay-offs while playing 'in the hole' behind Alex in the first half. Then, moving back to play centre-half with his strike partner, he looked just as assured, starting us passing from the back. A man of the match performance.
Sunday 25th Jan - Crosspool 11 Worksop 0
In absolutely dreadful conditions, with freezing rain and mud puddles covering the pitch, the Crosspool lads got back to winning ways against a depleted Worksop. Not much football could be played in the conditions but, after a months layoff, if was good to get back to winning ways in 2014. Man of the match goes to Ben Rhodes who started playing in defence then moved into midfield to grab a well deserved goal.
Sunday 22nd Dec - Norton Lees 3 Crosspool 3
Phew! This top of the table clash certainly didn't disappoint. Norton Lees, on the back of a quarter final victory against League A opposition and at their home ground, probably sensed a chance to avenge their 2-1 victory defeat earlier in the season. However, Crosspool proved they'd put their own cup quarter final defeat behind them by starting the game strongly and pushing Norton back into their own half. The Crosspool midfield was rampant with Taylor and Ed raiding down the wings and John and Joe controlling the game from the middle of the park. Norton's only way to get out of the Crosspool stranglehold was to play long balls up to their big centre forward who, despite throwing his weight into a few tackles, failed to intimidate the impressive Dylan, Ben and Ethan. We were definitely on top and managed to create a few chances, one of which Alex was unlucky to finish. On a rare break though, Norton won a corner on their left hand side. Their captain put in a dangerous delivery which our front two failed to clear and, with the ball swinging inwards, Archie was unable to prevent the ball crossing the line via his hands. 1-0 down against the run of play. Lesser teams may have folded as Norton, buoyed by their goal, started to come into the game. We soon restored parity though after a good move down the right hand side which was eventually finished by Alex. 1-1. The game was close now with both sides making chances. Dylan was immense at the back though putting some great tackles in and playing the ball into our midfielders' feet to start us on attacks. With both sides trading blows and Ed taking a knock on the ankle, Lewis came on to replace him on the right hand side with Taylor switching to the left. Lewis was unlucky with a free-kick that their defender did well to clear and made some good runs down the flank. With the half coming to its end, we once again started to get the upper hand with Joe playing some good passes behind the Norton defence but we failed to capitalise.
The 2nd half saw Luke and Damon replace Alex and Joe with Ed moving up front. We started really well and within 5 minutes had taken the lead after John and Taylor combined to release Ed through on goal. There was only ever going to be one outcome as he cocked his left leg ready to finish and, sure enough, the net rippled as he turned away to celebrate his 28th goal of the season. We should have then gone on to take control of the game but conceded another goal from a corner, this time leaving the Norton Lees centre forward criminally unmarked in the 6 yard box. Once again the goal galvanised Norton and they were on top with us struggling to get out of our half. We were struggling to keep the ball and found ourselves getting deeper and deeper. It seemed inevitable when a corner was awarded to Norton that a goal would come. And, sure enough, we once again failed to deal with what, in fairness, was another excellent delivery. 3-2 down and looking out on our feet we had to take a gamble and go 2-4-2 with Alex and Ed up front. This unfortunately meant having to sacrifice Lewis and Luke who hadn't done much wrong and probably deserved a bit more game time (sorry lads!). The tactical switch seemed to work though and the lads showed great character, really getting on the front foot and pushing the opposition back into their own half. John decided he was going to take the game by the scruff of the neck and the rest of the team followed suit. Norton were struggling to cope with our passing and Damon's physical presence on the right gave them another thing to worry about. With time starting to run away from us, a nice move from the left was finished by Taylor to get us back in the game. We were very much in the ascendancy and looked like the team more likely to score. But, true to form, just when it looked like some form of pattern was being established, Norton found some energy from somewhere to force us back. The last 5 minutes were pretty hair-raising to say the least. Norton again delivered some dangerous corners which we - at last - managed to deal with (Joe making an excellent headed clearance on the near post). Then, following a run from their defender, John threw his body in front of the ball to block, followed by Archie making a great save. Fingernails were down to knuckles on the line for both sets of coaches as Norton gained another corner with seconds left. We finally looked to be getting the hang of defending corners though as Ethan managed to clear and the final whistle ended what was an absolutely fantastic game of football.
All in all, a fair result in a game that lit up a damp December afternoon, having more twists and turns than a snake eating a pretzel on a rollercoaster! There were some excellent performances on the day from all concerned and, while it's unfair to single players out, special mention should go to Ben who dealt brilliantly with their striker, Dylan who was a real rock at the back, John who played out of his skin and Joe who showed some real class on the ball on what was a very difficult pitch. The Man of the match award split the coaches with 1 vote going to Joe and 2 for Dylan. Well done Dylan!
2013 has been a good year for the Crosspool Reds. We should all be proud of our performances to date - 13 victories, 1 draw and 1 defeat is definitely a record to be proud of. Lets make sure we carry it on into 2014, look to improve in each and every game and training session we play and emerge as deserved League C title holders in the New Year. Thanks to all the lads for their efforts up to now. Also, thanks to all the parents for all your support during the year - it's very much appreciated. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Sunday 15th Dec - Handsworth 6 Crosspool 1
Our 13 game unbeaten run (unlucky for some) finally came to an end against A League opposition in the cup quarter final at Handsworth. "At last," the rest of the league were heard sighing, as were the Crosspool coaches who were finding the Crosspool Invincibles tag a heavy burden! All in all, a good learning experience for the lads against tough opposition, with plenty of positives to take away and plenty of improvements to be made. Once again, we started the game slowly and, against better quality opposition, were duly punished going two goals down within the first 10 minutes of the game. To our credit, we didn't let our heads drop and started to play ourselves into the game, getting the ball on the floor and passing around the Handsworth players. We created a good chance for Ed who couldn't quite get his right foot around it to finish but soon after another good move between John, Taylor and Joe saw Ed played through and finish with aplomb. Lewis made some good runs down the right but found himself surrounded by opposition players. We were just about edging it without being too creative and with the score at 2-1 the game became a bit scrappy. Alex replaced Lewis on the right and played some clever through balls which their defenders did well to clear. On a sticky pitch we struggled to break the Handsworth back line and, with the half-time whistle approaching, we started to concede possession to Handsworth. In the last seconds of the first half, after us clearing their first corner, Handsworth took another which we failed to clear and their midfielder headed into the roof of the net despite Archie getting his fingers to it. A real blow right on the stroke of half-time which we failed to recover from.
The 2nd half continued in the same vein - a bit scrappy with neither team really threatening. With the score at 3-1 and us not looking like scoring we needed to chase the game and went to 2 at the back with 2 up front. The gamble didn't quite pay off and Handsworth got on top, again scoring from a corner and then a set-piece. Luke came on to replace Joe and offer some threat up front but Handsworth were in the ascendancy and added another goal via Ben's heel. The score finished 6-1 which we could argue flattered them. However, the learning points we must take from the game are - we can't give teams a head start in a game and we must defend set-pieces better (albeit quality set-pieces). Plenty of positives to take though as, in patches, we looked the better side. We certainly shouldn't be too disappointed by this defeat and, like all good teams after a defeat, look to start on another unbeaten run.
Man of the match was Archie who made some great saves in the second half when we were under pressure. He also kept his head well despite the disappointment of conceding the most goals he'd conceded in a game this season.
Sunday 1st Dec - Crosspool 5 Eckington 0
No Match report. Scorers - Ed Willis 4, Damon Geering 1
Sunday 24th Nov - Crosspool 10 Dodworth 1
Victory number 12 for the Reds and a pretty comprehensive one at that with our largest victory of the season. We spoke before the game about keeping our standards high and reaching our peak ready for the challenging games ahead in December. Unfortunately for Dodworth it looks like we're doing just that and they must have wondered what had hit them when they came in at half-time eight goals down, Ed opened the scoring with a header into the roof of the net. He followed this up with another 2 goals to bring his season tally to 22! What was more pleasing though was Ed's work-rate from the front - he set the tone for the rest of the lads pressing high up the pitch and causing Dodworth some real problems. Taylor, carrying on from his performance last week, added a fourth and fifth soon after - one an absolute beauty right into the top corner. Then, Lewis got in on the action, after moving into midfield, with a tidy finish followed by a penalty that he smashed into the corner of the goal after Ed was upended. Luke made it eight after some good work down the right and a cool finish into the corner. Dylan and Ethan were always on hand whenever our midfield line was breached and carried out their work in a typically calm and measured way. John did the same in midfield, mopping up any loose balls and playing easy passes with precision that got us back on the front foot. Alex played some lovely through balls into the forward line and was unlucky not to get on the end of some good balls himself.
Archie was given the chance to play the 2nd half outfield but declined in favour of keeping a clean sheet. We all agreed at half-time that we would do our utmost to help him achieve it but then the Dodworth lads broke through the middle and were in on goal. Archie made a great save though and it looked like the danger had gone but their striker reacted quickly to the parry and put the ball in the back of the net. Sorry Archie! He didn't let his head drop though making another great save to his left after we allowed the Dodworth striker a clean run at goal. We regrouped though and, after a good cross from the right, Ethan scored his first goal of the season with the foot he usually stands on - his right foot! Joe added the tenth not long after and then a goal that has had to go to the dubious goals panel for the 11th. It was definitely Alex's shot and the keeper definitely saved it and it definitely hit the inside of the post, definitely bobbling across the line before definitely bouncing in off the defender. The panel will hopefully come back to us some time soon with the definite verdict. Ed almost scored a 4th after a long range shot that hit both posts. Then Taylor hit an absolute piledriver from outside the area that struck the bar so hard it was still vibrating when the dads went to put the goals away.
The tireless running of the midfielders definitely gave us the platform for this victory today. Great to see Ethan off the mark as this now means that every single player in the squad has scored this season. Also, Ed's hatrick means he is now joint top scorer in the league. Not a bad day at all and a difficult decision to make on man of the match. After a long deliberation Dylan Smith gets my vote. He's not put a foot wrong all season and gets on with his game in a quiet but efficient manner which sometimes goes unnoticed. His reading of the game and willingness to attack high balls today, along with his composure and steady influence sees him just edge the rest of his teammates out. News just in from the dubious goals panel - it's been awarded to Alex Darke as a reward for all his hard work on the left in the first half (plus their defender didn't want to claim it). Well done Alex!
Sunday 17th Nov - Beighton Magpies 2 Crosspool 8 (Cup)
The Crosspool juggernaut rolled on towards the cup quarter final with an excellent victory against B League opposition. We got off to a good start pressing Beighton back in their own half and squeezing the game with a high defensive line. Ed made some great runs down the left hand side putting in dangerous crosses which nearly resulted in us taking the lead. On the opposite wing, Joe got in on the act and our first goal came after a good run down the right which he squared to Ed, whose mis-kicked shot fell to chief poacher Alex to finish first time and give us the lead. Taylor added a 2nd soon after with a close range effort and then a third from long range which he later admitted was a cross (obviously not a striker then!). Joe's trickery on the right was causing Beighton problems and, after another jinking run, he was brought down in the area for a penalty. Archie ran the full length of the pitch to take it (well, he definitely thought about it!) but Ben was having none of it. He stepped up and crashed the ball into the top right hand corner giving their keeper no chance - 4-0.Ben Rhodes on the scoresheet at last! Just Ethan to go now. Luke came on for Ed on the left hand side and carried on where Ed had left off, running at their full back and showing his trickery. Beighton almost scored against the run of play after a low bounce beat Ben, allowing their striker a shot on goal which hit the bar. Dylan came on for Joe with Lewis moving into midfield after a composed display at right back. The back three were largely untroubled and we went into the break with a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Alex and Lewis made way for Ed and Joe at half-time and, with the manager's team talk still ringing in the player's ears, the Crosspool lads went out and promptly stopped playing - so much for inspirational words! Beighton showed their B-league quality punishing our lapses in concentration with two well taken goals. This gave Beighton a bit of confidence and we started to look shaky, rushing our passes from the back. However, Taylor and John soon got a grip of the game in the middle and calmed us down a bit. Dylan was also a calming influence at the back making some timely interceptions. We soon got back on the front foot and Ed was unlucky with a couple of headed attempts, one of which hit the upright. Luke picked a knock up on his foot and came off for Alex. Ed finally got the goal his performance deserved after a strong run at their defence, cutting inside to finish with his left foot. Taylor then rounded off a dynamic performance with an excellent finish to get a well-deserved hatrick. Ed added a 2nd after an incisive through ball from Joe. Then John scored the 8th following some neat combination play in midfield and a strong finish. We finished the game on top, creating more chances with Ed hitting the bar again, just missing out on a hatrick. Ethan, Lewis and Dylan looked solid at the back giving nothing away to the Beighton forwards and starting our passing moves from deep.
A very satisfying performance against a team from a higher league who, with all due respect, we outplayed for much of the game. Taylor's inspirational performance, just about covering every blade of grass on the pitch, earned him the man of the match award. A tough quarter final tie awaits us at Handsworth next on the 15th December (keep the diaries clear!). In the meantime it's back to the league and protecting our unbeaten record.
Sunday 10th Nov - Worksop 2 Crosspool 9
The longest journey of the season saw us travel out to Manton to face bottom of the table Worksop (thankfully we only have to travel there once this season). The lads did themselves and all of their parents proud with an impeccably observed minutes silence on Remembrance Day. We started the game on the front foot with Lewis and Joe combining well down the right hand side. Joe had the beating of their full back and knocked a couple of lovely balls in the box waiting to be attacked. We failed to get on the end of them though but the third run and cross was met by Alex with a finish which their keeper was unlucky not to save. To be honest, the opposition struggled to cope with our attacking play and we added to the opener not long after through Ed, Joe, John and another couple from Alex (hatrick!). We went into the break 6-0 up without really having to play that well although we all applied ourselves well to the task in hand. Lewis held his position really well at full back, joining the play when we attacked but racing to get back whenever it broke down. Ben and Ethan were their usual solid selves and Archie was quick off his line. Joe and Ed swapped wings halfway through the half and Ed was unlucky with a run inside where he just had one touch too many. Taylor and John got through bags of running in midfield despite finishing 1st and 3rd, respectively, in cross-country the previous day.
We changed things around a bit in the 2nd half with young Archie coming out to take on the player manager role in the middle of the park, replaced by Ethan. John and Joe dropped into defence, Ben and Lewis pushed into midfield and Ed and Alex swapped places. The changes seemed to disrupt us a bit and Worksop came at us attacking down their right hand side. They scored a good goal on the break that Ethan couldn't do much about and then scored again after Joe was unlucky to clear, getting a knock to his head for his troubles. The 2 goals against seemed to wake us up a bit and we decided to start playing again. Ben was unlucky with a couple of runs from midfield. Taylor played a perfectly weighted pass through to Archie who was unlucky not to score. Then, Ben got his first goal of the season. What a goal. He buried it in the far corner. The keeper didn't stand a chance. Until the ref blew her whistle to say it was a penalty - unlucky Ben! Ofcourse, his team mates only thought it right that Ben should take the penalty after being so unlucky. And Ben lined the ball up to take it, stepped back, cleaned the mud off his boot, looked up at the keeper. Then Archie stepped up and blasted it into the net! Not a bad penalty to be honest, with the keeper rooted to the spot. Archie wheeled away and slid across to the touchline on his knees in celebration. Strangely enough, Ben didn't join in! Lewis added another with a slalom run through 4 or 5 Worksop players. Not much football was being played if we're being honest although there was one move which started from Ethan with slick passing from front to back which we were unlucky not to score with. We saved the best till last though with a nice little move through the middle rounded off by an unstoppable long range finish from Alex for his 4th.
All in all, a good result and we can only beat what is put in front of us. Definitely some room for improvement though and we will have to improve next week as it's B League Beighton Magpies in the cup away. Man of the match was Joe who started brightly on the right, contributed well from the left and played well at the back. Unlucky Alex - maybe next time!
Sunday 27th Oct - Eckington 1 Crosspool 5
A decent performance in difficult conditions against 3rd placed Eckington Boys. We started a bit slowly but were awarded a penalty soon after the start when Ed was upended in the area. Ed dusted himself off to take the penalty but, despite hitting it well and in the corner, the keeper guessed right and made a good save. We carried on attacking but were caught by the Eckington offside trap on a number of occasions. When we did mange to breach their line the keeper made some good saves from Ed, Alex and Taylor. Eckington looked dangerous on the break although John did his usual job of protecting the defence. Whenever the Eckington team broke through our midfield barrier Ben, Ethan and Lewis were on hand to mop things up. Archie was largely a spectator though as we probed the Eckington back line carving out some good chances. Sharp shooter Alex Darke eventually made the breakthrough after a trademark run and cross from Taylor down the right hand side. Luke came on for Joe and almost made an immediate impact hitting a well-timed shot to the keeper's right which unfortunately came back off the post. Joe came back on up front with us reverting to two at the back and added a 2nd following up well after a good move down the left which Ed smashed against their keeper.Further chances were carved out as the half wore on but we failed to add to the scoreline before the half-time whistle.
With the wind against us and getting stronger by the minute the 2nd half could have been a backs to the wall job. Credit to the lads though as they carried on where they had left off, taking control of the midfield and moving the ball around the pitch well. Our third came after Luke made another good run down the right hand side, this time crossing for Alex to add to his tally. Alex almost grabbed his third with his left foot after a good run and cross from Ed. Eckington did come into the game a little midway through the 2nd half and we were struggling to clear our lines with the winds in our faces. Their pressure eventually told when they scored a good goal from distance which gave Archie no chance. Once again though, we showed our character and looked a little annoyed that Archie hadn't got his clean sheet, grabbing the game back from Eckington. John rounded off an excellent performance with a run from the middle of the park past two or three players and a strong short which hit the post again. John refused to take no for an answer though and followed up his own shot with another to make sure he was on the scoresheet - 4-1. This looked like it was going to be the goal of the game until Taylor stepped up and got the goal his performance deserved. He broke from midfield and hit a thunderbolt into the roof of the net which gave their keeper no chance. We carried on carving out chances with some good interplay between Lewis, Joe and Ed and were largely untroubled at the back. Just to emphasise the point Ben executed his own version of Higuita's scorpion kick when clearing a ball from defence ( check it out on on youtube lads!).
All in all a good win in difficult conditions that worsened as the game went on. Some steady performances from the whole side with Luke, Alex and Ed deserving praise. An outstanding performance from Taylor who it was great to see back on the scoresheet but he was just edged out for Man of the Match by John who, once again, showed great maturity in the middle of the park holding his position well, breaking at the right moments and covering for his team mates whenever needed.
Sunday 20th Oct - Crosspool 8 Dodworth 3 (Cup)
With our previously perfect pitch resembling a ploughed field after the lacrosse team had messed it up in the rain on Saturday you couldn't help but feel that there could be a cup shock on the cards today. We definitely went into the game as favourites against a Dodworth that we'd previously beaten 7-0, that only had 8 players. But, the ghost of Ronnie Radford (Google it lads!) loomed large as Dodworth took a deserved lead inside the first 5 minutes. They almost got another soon after and this seemed to wake our lads up a little bit (although not much). Joe hit the bar after some good interplay down the left hand side with Ed. Dodworth were looking dangerous on the break though as we pushed for an equaliser. We did manage to pull one back after some good work from Luke down the right hand side which gave Joe a simple tap in. Lewis moved into midfield with us going to 2 at the back and we started to get control of the midfield. Ed was causing problems down the left hand side although most of our attacks were going down the right where the pitch was heaviest. Luke could have done with a pair of wellies rather than boots! We took the lead though after Ed hit a powerful shot which the keeper could only parry and Joe managed to follow in for his 2nd goal. We went into the break with a 2-1 lead but really needed to step things up in the 2nd half.
Taylor came on for John in the 2nd half with Ed and Alex switching places. Dodworth continued to show good character and equalised soon after the restart with a well taken goal. We restored our lead soon after though after Luke set Lewis up for a good finish. Dylan picked up a knock and was replaced at the back by John. Ed scored our 4th and then added another with a great first touch out of his feet and finish across the keeper into the bottom corner. Lewis scored a 6th after a weaving run and unstoppable finish into the roof of the net. Taylor was really pulling the strings in the middle now and Alex was spraying some lovely passes across the pitch from the left. Ed scored his hatrick with an even better touch than his previous goal and finish to match after some great build up play from Taylor again. Archie came out of goal to play up front with Ethan replacing him. Lewis scored his third after another jinking run from midfield to make it 8-2 and then, in the dying moments of the game, Archie's moment of glory arrived. He dinked the ball through the defender's leg, ran through on goal, looked up, pulled his foot back, looking composed and ready to score. And his old mate Joe stepped across him and robbed the ball off his toes sensing his own moment of glory. Needless to say, he fluffed it! Just about summed up our performance really. Dodworth scored an excellent and well deserved 3rd in the last minute to make it 8-3 at full time.
Not many contenders for man of the match today although Taylor impressed with his 2nd half performance, grabbing a couple of assists while John did well in midfield and defence. Hatrick man Ed just edged it from hatrick man Lewis. Definitely not a classic and the most goals we have conceded this season in a game. We will definitely need to improve in our next game against Eckington and start playing as a team a bit more. On the positive side, we've progressed through to the next round and face Beighton Magpies from League B on 17th November.
Sunday 13th Oct - Stocksbridge 2 Crosspool 4
Victory number 7 for the Crosspool Reds although they were made to work hard for their win by the Stocksbridge lads. Once again, we were put in the driving seat by sharpshooter Ed Willis despite being put under pressure early on by the Stocksbridge forwards. Dylan Smith had to make a great last ditch tackle which was timed to perfection just as their lively forward lined up a shot. Ethan and Ben also had to be on their toes on a couple of occasions to stop threatening attacks. Slightly against the run of play, Ed picked the ball up on the left wing, cut inside and fired a cross-cum-shot into the top corner leaving their keeper grasping at thin air. Like all good strikers, Ed convinced his team mates afterwards that it was definitely a shot and, with the form he is in, it's hard to doubt him! We started to take control of the game after taking the lead and attacked well despite a heavy pitch that wasn't really suited to our passing game. Ed claimed another goal after a shot that was deflected off the Stocksbridge defender and his third hatrick of the season followed soon after with a sweet half-volley into the roof of the net. We looked like we were going to run away with the game, creating chance after chance but their keeper was in fine form making some great saves from Taylor and Lewis. Alex and Luke came on for Ed and Lewis and looked sharp, playing some neat passes to their team-mates. However, just when it looked like we had the game under control, a shot from the edge of the area squeezed through our defensive line and, with Archie unsighted, just managed to creep between his legs and into the back of the net. Stocksbridge had their tails up and we started to look a bit sloppy in possession giving the ball away too easily. Just before half-time, after a good run from midfield, the Stocksbridge player evaded a couple of our tackles and finished well into the top corner.
Our unbeaten record was looking under threat as we lined up for the 2nd half with Lewis replacing Dylan and Ed replacing Joe. Stocksbridge were kicking down the slope and looked confident after their late 1st half rally. However, our lads showed great character with Ethan and Ben defending like trojans and John everywhere in the middle of the park. Taylor started to get hold of the ball and make some threatening runs and Ed and Alex combined well creating chances that we were unlucky not to put away. We eventually got the goal that our pressure deserved with another goal for Alex D after some good work down the left from Ed. This knocked the stuffing from the Stocksbridge lads and we really got control of the game with John and Joe showing great composure and maturity keeping the ball patiently. Taylor was unlucky with a shot from the edge of the area which their keeper tipped onto the bar. With the heavy pitch taking it's toll there looked to be some tired legs out there but Ethan ran himself into the ground despite taking a knock. His desire to win spread throughout the team and whenever anything got past him, Ben and Dylan were at hand to mop things up. Archie came off his line to good effect on a couple of occasions, handling the slippery ball well. The game finished 4-2 and was probably as hard as we've had to work for our 3 points this season. We showed great character and team spirit to ride the Stocksbridge comeback and regroup in the 2nd half.
The man of the match award goes to Ethan who gave his all and defended superbly. His passing and positioning were excellent throughout. Running him extremely close was Mr Consistent, Ben Rhodes, who has been brilliant in every game this season. Well done to the both of them and the rest of the lads for a spirited performance!
Sunday 6th Oct - Dodworth 0 Crosspool 7
We got off to a flying start pressuring the Dodworth midfield into a mistake from the kick off. Ed latched onto a through ball from Taylor and expertly slotted into the bottom corner within 30 seconds of the start. Dodworth looked a little shell-shocked as we launched wave after wave of attack refusing to let them have a minute on the ball. Alex, Taylor, Joe and Ed were real pests while John swept up behind leaving little for the back line to do. Whenever the ball did breach the pest line though, Lewis, Dylan and Ethan were more than a match for their forwards, quickly getting us back on the front foot. The inevitable 2nd came soon after with another cool finish from Ed. Soon after, Lewis scored a 3rd after a well-worked short corner from Alex and Taylor. Ed scored his hatrick with a rare headed goal following a good cross from Joe on the right and was substituted afterwards for Ben to give the Dodworth back line a bit of respite. However, Alex D replaced him up front, with Ben slotting into the middle of midfield. Alex soon added to his season's tally with another excellent finish to make it 5-0. Damon came on for Taylor and showed his commitment to the team with a lung bursting run back to help the defence out on one of Dodworth's rare breaks. The football we played in the first 20 minutes was excellent although a bit of complacency slipped in as the half wore on. Ben looked dangerous from the middle of midfield though and had a couple of chances to get on the scoresheet but the score remained 5-0 at half-time.
The 2nd half saw Dodworth showing a bit of character and Crosspool looking a bit sloppy but we picked things up as the half wore on, with a great passing move down the right hand side finished by a chipped finish from Damon into the top corner and the goal of the game. A 7th came after a long cross from the right which looked to have missed out our attackers only for Joe to hook his left foot around it and finish well. Archie was desperate to keep his 2nd clean sheet of the season and made his thoughts known to the manager about how many defenders should be playing! There were a couple of late scares but the final whistle went without the Crosspool goal being breached. Well done Archie!
Man of the match was Lewis who was composed at right back, joining in the attacks and getting back into position whenever our moves broke down. He scored a well-earned goal and put some good tackles in, combining well with Alex and Damon down the right hand side.
Sunday 29th Sep - Crosspool 6 Ecclesall 1
Easily the best performance of the season so far for the lads. After an early setback, with Ecclesall scoring a scrambled goal, Crosspool took complete control of the game, dominating the midfield. Throughout the team the passing was excellent with Luke linking the play between the midfield and forward line. The equaliser looked inevitable and came after a neat move down the right hand side. Alex Darke peeled off his defender and slotted his 2nd goal of the season into the bottom left hand corner.A couple of knocks to Ed and Taylor saw Ethan and Joe come on but this didn't disrupt our performance. Soon after the equaliser, following an impressive run and cross from Lewis, Alex added to his tally with an excellent finish which gave their keeper no chance. We were causing their defence all kinds of problems with our movement and some clever interplay between Alex, Lewis and Joe almost saw a third goal. In defence Ethan impressed, holding his position well and knocking some nice balls into the channels. Just before the half-time whistle John capped an excellent first half performance with a great run and finish into the right hand corner. 3-1 at half-time.
We continued where we had left off after the the break with Ed recovering from his knock to replace Lewis in the middle of midfield. Ethan, Ben and Dylan were largely untroubled at the back although they showed good composure on the ball when required. Joe and Luke were making some good runs down the flanks and one of these eventually saw our fourth goal come. Luke collected the ball inside the area and clipped a lovely finish into the corner of the net. The chances were coming thick and fast and Alex almost got a well deserved hatrick after a lovely move involving Ed and Taylor. This might have made the trip back from the Sunderland match a little better but it wasn't to be!!! The fifth came after Joe gambled on a cross from the right hand side which he met at the back post for a good finish. Ed added a sixth with a powerful finish into the corner and had a couple of other chances to add to his tally. Archie watched on as we applied more pressure and Ben almost scored the goal his performance deserved after a strong break from the middle of the park. The score ended 6-1 with Ecclesall counting themselves unlucky to meet us in such good form. Definitely the standard that we should be looking to maintain.
The man of the match award goes to John Lowe, who dominated the middle of the park and kept possession brilliantly. His pass selection, running with the ball and workrate were very impressive. Ben was unlucky once again to see one of his team-mates perform so well but his consistency will surely see him pick up the award soon.
Sunday 22nd Sep - Crosspool 2 Norton Lees 1
Another win for Crosspool Reds against a well organised Norton Lees team. We started the game well, with some patient passing in midfield and looked composed on the ball. Alex and Taylor made some good runs down the wings and John controlled the game from the middle. A good move down the right resulted in a fizzing cross-field ball from Alex which Joe laid off for Taylor to finish coolly. 1-0 up in the first 5 minutes. Following the early goal, we became a little disjointed and allowed Norton a foothold in the game. Their centre forward looked a threat, with his pace and power but Ben handled him well assisted ably by Dylan and Ethan. Archie made a great one-handed save from a long-range Norton shot and had to be quick of his line to prevent their forward from scoring. Dylan played some good balls out from the back and we also had our own threat with Ed looking dangerous on the break. Lewis came on for Alex on the right hand side and made some good runs down the flank. Norton though were starting to edge it and Archie had to be alert off his line on a couple of occasions. Somewhat against the run of play, we extended our lead through another Taylor goal following a shot from Ed which was well saved by their keeper, then another shot from Joe which was again saved. Taylor though made no mistake. We looked to be moving towards half-time with a well-earned 2-0 lead when, from our own corner, Norton broke down the left-hand side to score just before the whistle.
The 2nd half was a back to the walls job, with Norton winning a number of corners and pushing for an equaliser. Our defensive line, once again, proved difficult to break down. Ben was immense, his positioning and organisation vital. As the game wore on we were struggling to impose ourselves, giving the ball away cheaply in midfield. Luke tried to restore some calm with his neat touches and we did create a couple of chances that could have killed the game off. Unfortunately we failed to finish them although their keeper made some excellent saves. There were a few heart in the mouth moments as Norton pushed further for an equaliser but Archie, once again, was excellent off his line whenever they broke through our well-disciplined back line. With the final throw of the dice Norton's forward broke through but Archie was there again making a brave dive down low and taking a heavy knock to the knee. He dusted himself down though and saw out the last couple of minutes for us to take the 3 points.
Not the best performance but another win seeing us extend our lead at the top to 5 points without having really played that well yet. The good thing is, once we click we're going to be very difficult to beat. The man of the match award goes to Archie Waterall who made some great saves, was excellent off his line and showed his bravery at the end. Ben ran him very close with some fantastic defending and a real will to win.
Thursday 19th Sep - Crosspool 4 Hillsbro Pumas 1
Third win on the bounce for Crosspool Reds against a much-improved Hillsborough Pumas side. As expected, Pumas came out fighting and very much got in our faces. The game was a real battle and we had to earn the right to play our football. Credit to the lads though, they took everything Pumas had to throw at them in their stride and slowly started to show their quality. It took a while for the breakthrough to come but it eventually came through the Puma's nemesis (otherwise know as Ed Willis) after a great dribble and finish following some neat build up play from Taylor and John. Ed added another to his tally soon after, making Pumas wish they'd never had the misfortune to cross his path with another well-taken finish. Fair play to the opposition - they didn't let these setback affect them and started to apply their own pressure with Archie having to be alert off his line and Ben, Dylan and Lewis having to make some important tackles. Just as it was looking like Pumas might get back into the game, Crosspool broke from defence clinically - Joe finishing off a great team move with a first time finish into the bottom left corner. The first half finished 3-0 but the lads came off the pitch knowing they were in a game. The 2nd half continued in the same vein with Pumas getting stuck in and Crosspool trying to string some passes together in the final third. The Pumas keeper made some great saves from Luke and Alex and they took some encouragement from this. We lost our shape a little and allowed Pumas to get a foothold in the game without them really threatening our goal. However, a good through ball to their number 10 saw Archie once again come off his line to clear. This time though, the luck was with their forward, as the ball ricocheted off Archie onto his leg and left him through on goal - 3-1. Pumas tried to throw the kitchen sink at us but we were riled at not keeping our 2nd clean sheet of the season, attacking their goal with menace. Our 4th goal came after a period of pressure with Lewis McConnell getting off the mark after a great move down the right. This took the wind out of the sails of Pumas and the game petered out a little as we took the three points and went top of the league (with a game in hand).
Man of the match goes to Taylor who narrowly edged out John and Ben with a commanding performance from the middle, creating chances and making chances of his own through his skill, speed and determination.
Sunday 15th Sep - Hillsbro Pumas 0 Crosspool 5
A good result following a slow start to the game. We started with a new defensive line-up, with John dropping back to centre-half and Ed and Ben playing left and right full back. This tactical masterstroke didn't quite work out as expected (!) as we looked a little nervous at the back and in midfield, probably not helped by the blowy conditions. We did start to get on top as the half progressed though and began to play out well from the back, driving the ball down our left side. We were caught a few too many times by the Pumas offside trap, possibly due to us taking too long to play through balls. Despite all this, we looked the more likely side to score. Alex and Joe were unlucky with a couple of half chances and their keeper did well to prevent us getting on the end of a couple of decent through balls from Taylor, Luke and Damon. Archie had to be quick off his line on a couple of occasions to prevent the Pumas forwards from getting in on goal. Damon and Luke were unlucky to be substituted, with Dylan and Ethan coming on and us reverting to a more familiar back-line. Just before the break, we won a corner on the right-hand side which Ed whipped into the danger area and Crosspool's hero from last week bullet headed into their net. 1-0 to Crosspool at the break and Dylan Smith top scorer!
Lewis McConnell came on in the 2nd half replacing Ed, with Taylor moving onto the left-hand side and Lewis playing on the right. We started this half strongly and were very much on top with Pumas struggling to get out of their own half. The wind played a part but John and Joe also began to take a hold of the game in midfield with Ben, Ethan and Dylan winning any long balls played up to their big man. Lewis made some good runs down the right hand side, putting some dangerous crosses into the box which Alex nearly got on the end of. Ed came on for Alex up front and showed everyone why the manager had started him at left back by scoring 4 absolutely cracking goals! Dylan's place at the top of the goalscoring charts was no more, so he had to revert to helping Archie and his other defenders keep their first clean sheet of the season - just as important by the way! Ed's 4 goals were real classy finishes and for those that would like to know more about them, Ed will be more than happy to run through them at training this Tuesday! Special mention must go to his second though which was a great team goal, following some excellent work down the left-hand side from Taylor, finished by a nonchalant flick of the left boot into the top corner. Damon replaced Joe in the middle of midfield and looked sharp, combining well with Luke who replaced Taylor on the left. Joe came on for Ben at right back and Ben eventually gave Ed a well-earned rest and the chance for some touchline adulation from his fans!
The most pleasing thing about this performance was the way all of the players did what was asked of them for the team, without anyone trying to play as an individual. Despite the last 15 minutes being quite comfortable, nobody started to take their foot off the pedal and everyone continued with the right habits. Another man of the match performance from Ed whose 4 goals made it difficult to give to anyone else. However, Dylan and Ben did really well at the back and John helped us take charge in the 2nd half. Another good result. Well done. Keep on winning - let's make it a habit!
Sunday 8th Sep - Crosspool 2 Stocksbridge 1
Our first game of the season on the new pitch at Crimicar Lane, against a good Stocksbridge side who narrowly missed out on promotion last season. We started the game well, quickly blowing away any pre-season cobwebs, taking control of the game and creating chance after chance. However, as the first half went on and more of the chances went begging, it was a case of deja-vu from last season when Stocksbridge scored a goal against the run of play, after we failed to clear our lines from a hopeful ball into the box. We kept on pressing and creating chances with the bar and post saving Stocksbridge on a couple of occasions. Eventually we got the breakthrough our play deserved when an Alex D shot from just outside the box proved too hot to handle. We hit the post again after Joe got his head on the end of a cross from Taylor. Despite our dominance scores were still level at half-time.
The 2nd half saw more of the same. John Lowe was winning everything in midfield and Ed and Taylor were pinning their full backs into their own half. Again we failed to show that little bit of composure in front of goal when the chances arrived and Stocksbridge began to take some heart from the missed chances. About 5 minutes into the 2nd half Luke came on for Joe, with Taylor switching into the middle of midfield. With around 10 minutes remaining, after another bout of pressure from Crosspool, the ball fell to Dylan Smith in the right back position. Dylan took a touch, getting the ball out of his feet early, and hit an absolute pile-driver into the top corner of the Stocksbridge net to make it 2-1. Definitely an early contender for goal of the season! Stocksbridge began to push for the equaliser but, apart from one lack of concentration, our back 3 of Ethan, Ben and Dylan, managed to keep them at bay. Archie was largely untroubled but when called into action looked assured. Luke had some nice touches and made sure we kept the ball well with John tackling anything that moved in front of him. Stocksbridge were unlucky to have a goal disallowed for offside in the last 5 minutes, although the referee definitely got the decision right. The final whistle eventually came and the Crosspool lads celebrated their well-earned victory.
A good start to the season, with a performance that we can definitely improve upon. The man of the match award goes to the birthday boy - Ed Willis, run very close by John Lowe. Well done Ed and Happy Birthday. Three points and a new bike - what more could you ask for?!