News & Match Reports U12 Boys Red 2014-2015
Play Off Final - Crosspool Reds 1 Thorncliffe Blues 2
A bright April morning in Rotherham saw us facing the B Division Blue runners up, Thorncliffe Blues, to play for promotion to the A Division. On a bumpy and tight Millmoor pitch it looked like both the playing conditions and occasion got to us. We started poorly, barely stringing together more than three passes and found ourselves pushed back into our own half by the opposition. It looked like nerves were getting the better of us with Joe and Alex failing to impose themselves in midfield and Lewis struggling to get hold of the ball further forward. The first 15 minutes wasn't a particularly good advert for the B league with neither team playing particularly good football and barely a shot on goal - the defences were definitely on top. Zac replaced Alex, with Lewis moving back into the midfield, while John moved further forward and Joe dropped deeper into the middle. Zac's movement and pace up front gave us more options and John's effort and determination saw us getting on the ball. Ed started to get a bit more of the ball on the left but found himself up against 2 players more often than not. Luke was working hard defensively but struggling to impose himself offensively. We were, though, starting to create chances and their keeper made two good saves, one in particular from close range after a good run and shot from John. Dylan and Ben were coping at the back but, along with Archie, looked nervous on the ball and never really settled themselves during the half. Just as it looked like we'd got away with a pretty poor first half performance, a penalty was given after some poor defending saw their striker attempt to round Archie and collide with his head. It was a debatable decision but one that could have been avoided if we'd dealt with the danger earlier. Their penalty taker stepped up to drill the ball past Archie's right hand and the whistle went soon after to see us going into the break 1-0 down.
A few home truths were spoken at half-time with the point being made that complaining about the penalty decision would achieve nothing, nor would talking about anything else that had already gone. It was now time for action. Time for the lads to show what they were made of. To be fair, we did get an early response but this soon petered out as Thorncliffe showed determination and character to repel our early rally. Josh replaced Luke on the right and almost got on the end of an excellent cross from Ed which their keeper did well to deal with. Ben moved out of defence into midfield and gave us a bit more drive and bite with Joe moving to partner Dylan. We started to threaten their goal a little more, forcing a few corners and putting their defence under a bit of pressure. Eventually we got the breakthrough which our 2nd half performance deserved after Ed attempted an overhead kick and probably got enough on it for it to fall to John who took his chance well and get us back in the game. This should have been the time where we took the game by the scruff of the neck but, to their credit, Thorncliffe refused to lie down and gave as good as they got. We never really capitalised and, if anything, looked more likely to concede than score. A free-kick was given centrally which was lofted over to our right hand side to their left side midfielder in acres of space. He still had a lot to do though and cracked an unstoppable shot into the top corner to make it 2-1. We huffed and puffed to get the equaliser, pushing men forward and leaving ourselves open on the break. Thorncliffe were unlucky not to add to their tally while we didn't really threaten their goal. The final whistle ended our hopes of playing in Division A and the Thorncliffe lads celebrated their deserved victory. Sometimes you just have to admit that you were beaten by the better team.
While admitting the performance and result was a disappointment on the day we have to be proud of our achievements during the season. No doubt we missed our captain and we can feel hard done to by the league for not moving the fixture. But, we can have no complaints as we could and should have won the league with a little more consistency and character. However, what we should remember is, to go from being promoted from the C League in the previous season to finishing 2nd in B, just 4 points off the league leaders, is no mean feat. Man of the match goes to John who showed the determination and character required from us all next season if we're going to improve on this one.
Hillsborough Pumas 0 Crosspool Reds 5
What could have been the last game of the season turned out to be the penultimate following a straightforward victory against an already relegated Pumas. The result was never really in doubt with us attacking from the start and pushing our opponents back into their own half. We failed to capitalise on a number of corners and Ed was unlucky not to score on two separate occasions as he broke their back line from the left. Both Taylor and Ed caused them trouble down the flanks of a pitch that had more sand on it than Blackpool beach. In between making sandcastles John, Joe and Lewis dominated from the centre, circulating the ball well and supplying their team mates further forward. Luke threatened up front and was unlucky with a clever flick which their centre half did well to recover from and clear. Dylan and Ben both dealt with the long balls that were being played from their keeper, making sure they met the ball before it had the chance to bounce on the poor surface. Archie had very little to do but remained switched on and communicated well with the lads in front of him. Despite our relentless pressure it took a while before we broke the deadlock with their keeper making some good saves. It was Luke that inevitably started the scoring with another poacher's finish that gave their keeper no chance. Ed soon added another after a through ball from Joe which he drilled into the far right corner with his left foot. Zac replaced Lewis in the middle of midfield and held his position well, keeping the ball moving. There were some lovely moves down the right hand side which almost resulted in a third with John particularly unlucky after an excellent run past 2 of their defenders that saw the ball run away from him. The half-time whistle went soon after with the score at 2-0.
The 2nd half saw more of the same with Josh and Alex replacing Joe and Ed. If anything, we stepped our game up a little as Josh worked tirelessly up front and Alex slotted into the middle with Zac playing some lovely football. Lewis and Alex both chanced their arms from long range but couldn't quite get their efforts on target. Dylan was having a blinder at the back, clearing up everything and playing some quality balls into our midfielders to get us back on the front foot. Ben moved into midfield with John being replaced by Lewis and he was involved in the move which saw Luke claim his 2nd of the match and 15th of the season (in 16 games - not bad going at all). Taylor made a good run from deep and was unlucky not to claim a goal with a shot which their keeper saved with his feet. Josh rounded their defender and was upended for a penalty which he stepped up to take. Despite it being a well hit penalty their keeper saved it going down to his left hand side. Not long after though Josh claimed his goal after some good work down the right from Joe and a cross onto Josh's head which he nodded home calmly. Our fifth came from a cracking half volley from a bit of an unexpected source. Dylan hadn't scored since a header last season against - you guessed it, Hillsbro Pumas Orange - so he must have sensed his chance to put his name on the score sheet this season and put a bit of light between him and his defensive partner. (still one more game to go, Ben!). Unfortunately, with Dylan sensing his hatrick, he turned his ankle in one of the sand dunes so had to limp out of the game. Archie had to work hard for his clean sheet coming out decisively but bravely on two occasions to thwart their attackers as they bore down on goal. The match fizzled out a bit in the last 5 minutes, despite Ben and Luke coming on to play up front and try and add to the goal tally. The game finished at 5-0 which saw us claim 2nd spot with 37 points (Won 12, Drawn 1, Lost 3).
A solid performance on a difficult pitch which confirms our place in the playoffs. Our next game will be a much bigger challenge but one that I'm sure we can face up to and overcome to claim our place in the top league. Archie had a good game today showing real authority and decisiveness at the back. He was unlucky to be pipped to man of the match though by Dylan who really was excellent - winning all his battles, playing with calm authority and showing a real touch of class on the ball. Well done Dylan. Get some ice on that ankle!
Crosspool Reds 4 Hillsborough Pumas 1
The Reds bounced back from their disappointing defeat with a convincing victory. With this being the first of a double header against Pumas from which we need two victories to confirm our place in the promotion play off finals, it was important to dominate from the start. With Archie and Dylan missing, Lewis once again put himself forward as goalkeeper, with Joe and Zac joining Ben in a defensive trio. They had very little to do though as we rarely allowed the opposition over the halfway line, pegging them back and winning corners and free kicks in and around their box. Taylor was unlucky with a free-kick from the left which he opted to take as a left-foot outswinger, crashing the ball against the bar with the keeper well beaten. Josh made some good runs from the right side, showing excellent anticipation and was so close to scoring on a couple of occassions. Ed worked hard up front pressuring the back line and taking any opportunities he could to run at their defence. John was quietly effective, breaking any threats from the opposition and recycling the ball brilliantly putting us back on the attack. Alex showed some classy touches in the centre almost playing Josh and Ed in with clever passes from behind. Completely against the run of play though, a long punt from their keeper sailed over our midfield, bounced behind the defence and ran through to their number 10, who had spent most of the first half spectating. To his credit, he came alive and raced onto the ball giving Lewis no chance as he slotted past his left hand into the corner of the net. Another cheap goal conceded and something we're going to have to work on in training. However, while some teams may have started to doubt themselves, the lads showed great character and game intelligence at a vital time in their season. They carried on playing patiently, not forcing the game through the middle but playing out wide and waiting for the right opportunities. This calm approach paid off soon after with a well worked move which saw Taylor released on the left hand side, a slide rule pass into Ed's feet and a neat finish into the bottom corner. Alex really was playing well in the middle now, starting to pass the Pumas to death with his intelligent play. Luke came on for Josh on the right hand side and, despite playing with a heavy cold, showed his class within minutes. A good ball from John was played into Luke's feet - one-touch out of his feet, quick look up, ball nestling in the back of the net. Classy finish number 13 for the Reds top scorer. Ben was also beginning to dominate at the back now, ably assisted by Zac and Joe who took it in turns to join in with the attacks.
The 2nd half saw Josh replace Alex and Joe replace Lewis in goal. We changed to two at the back with John moving back to partner Ben and Zac pushing further forward. The game continued in the same vein with Crosspool dominating much of the play and passing patiently through the thirds. The ball was tending to end up in the boggiest left-hand side of the pitch though where Ed struggled to wade his way through the puddles while jumping lunging Pumas! When we did get the switch over to the right it was through John, playing a lovely ball out to Zac who was unlucky not to score with a side footer that inched wide. Luke was really unlucky with a wonderful drag-turn and shot which left their defence bamboozled. The deserved 3rd goal came from a shot starved Lewis who had obviously been planning his line of attack while watching from the net in the first half. He struck from 20 yards out with the ball deflecting off their defenders head and into the roof of the net. The goal of the game came not long after though after some good passing from the left saw Taylor line up a shot and drive (with his right foot this time) onto the inside of the post and into the back of the net (they always look better when they go in off an upright!). Double figures for the season from Taylor - well done! Pumas looked a bit deflated now, especially when they saw Ben move into midfield, winning all sorts of tackles and looking to get his name on the score sheet.There wasn't much else to report on in the game although Joe would never forgive me if I didn't mention his "Nuer-esque" save (his words) from their striker in the 6 yard box! Plus, he did looked rather fetching in purple!
Ben Rhodes was voted man of the match after an excellent display at the back and then making a convincing bid for a midfield berth once we have more than 2 defenders in the side - well done Ben, good to see you back to your best! We mentioned last week how defeats can make you stronger. The way we bounced back today seemed to confirm that and all without any need for the hairdryer! These are a great set of lads that still have the opportunity to achieve something this season. All to play for in a long and competitive season!
Norton Lees 5 Crosspool Reds 2
This was a blue day for the Reds. We started slowly and paid the price with Norton taking the lead through a well taken shot. When we eventually did get going we played only in patches and struggled to break the Norton back line down, opting to try and force our way through the middle rather than using the flanks. Our usual patient probing was nowhere to be seen with us rushing passes, snatching at chances and playing nervously throughout. We conceded a soft goal right on the stroke of half-time and found ourselves going in at half-time 2-0 down with no complaints.
The 2nd half wasn't much better with us going 3-0 down not long after the break. We got one back through a well-headed goal from Luke and rallied for a short while but Norton were far more clinical that us in front of goal and made it 4-1 soon after. A missed penalty followed by another shortly after that was eventually converted on the rebound by John looked to have given us a chance to get back in the game. Soon after though a deflected goal saw Norton deserverdly winning the game 5-2 after us failing to clear our lines.
Sometimes a defeat can have far more value than a victory.We have to take the lessons from this game and pick ourselves up for the remaining two matches. It's time to show our characters and prove to ourselves, our supporters and the rest of the league what we're all about. Over to you lads.
Stocksbridge 1 Crosspool Reds 5
Back to winning ways for the Reds with a third win of the season over Stocksbridge. We started the game looking like we had a point to prove after 2 recent defeats and Stocksbridge struggled to cope with our movement and passing. We were relentless from the off with Ed setting the tone up top, forcing their back 4 deep with his pace and intensity. Luke and Lewis patrolled the wings, pinning the Stocksbridge full backs in their own half, while Taylor and Joe prompted in the middle. John swept anything up behind this attacking quintet keeping us on the front foot thoughout. The goal was inevitable and Ed set it up with a fantastic cross which he wrapped his left foot around giving sharp shooter Luke a simple but clinical finish. The second followed from a corner after the perfect delivery from Lewis into the front post was met by Joe with a clever run and glanced header into the roof of the net. Stocksbridge looked a little shellshocked but tried to respond through their lone forward who looked lively. Ben and Dylan were more than a match though and Archie was alive to anything over the top making excellent decisions whenever required. Our third goal soon followed - another break down the left hand side which Ed again teed up for Luke who made it look easy with a smart finish. We changed things around with Zac and Alex coming on for John and Ben and this disrupted our flow a little. Stocksbridge got themselves back in the game with a good finish from their midfielder to make the score 3-1. Josh replaced Luke on the right hand side and almost made an immediate impact with a good run down the flank and a shot which their keeper did well to save. The half-time whistle went with Stocksbridge working hard to get back in the game and Crosspool realising the game wasn't yet over.
We talked at half-time about making the pitch bigger with our wide players when we had the ball and this seemed to have an effect with Alex and Josh both working well down the flanks and causing the opposition problems. We did struggle to break their defence down though with the substitutions once again disrupting play and us struggling to get our rhythym going. Taylor's work rate was brilliant though and his bravery on the ball shone through with him taking quite a bit of stick but standing up well to it. Ed was unlucky to be blown up offside when through on goal. Alex and Zac's class shined through as they contributed towards some lovely moves in the middle of the park. Archie had to make a sharp save from a low shot which took most by surprise apart from him. Ben came on for Joe in the middle of the park and looked to be enjoying himself playing further forward - he was unlucky not to score with a shot from just outside the area which didn't quite have enough power on it. Stocksbridge looked like they were more or less punched out now, with John moving into defence and imposing himself on their striker in his usual imperious way. Taylor finally got the goal his game deserved and the 4th goal the team performance deserved with a fine run through the middle and neat finish. Then to top off an excellent performance, Zac beat the offside trap with a well-timed run, carrying the ball from the half-way line into their area and finishing smartly with a right foot shot into the bottom left corner. The final whistle went with the score at 5-1 and a well-earned 3 points.
There were some excellent performances today with all the lads involved playing their part. Ed looked really sharp up front and contributed brilliantly, stretching their back line and setting up goal chances for his team mates. Taylor just edged him to man of the match though with another classy but determined performance and a well taken goal.
Crosspool Reds 2 Chesterfield Town 3
This was always going to be a difficult game with three of the squad missing against a vastly improved Chesterfield team and so it proved to be. The game started fairly evenly with both sides cancelling each other out in midfield. Ed was lively up front and Joe prompted from behind, almost playing him in behind on a couple of occassions but their keeper was alert to it. We were tending to try and play through the middle and Josh and Luke found themselves a little isolated on the flanks. Chesterfield were putting in some robust challenges which the referee did well to control but we looked a bit initimidated by their physical presence. John was the exception to this, putting himself about in midfield and cleaning up at the back whenever our defence was breached. Dylan and Ben had quite a bit of defensive work to do as Chesterfield started to get on top and dominate in the middle. Chesterfield's superiority was confirmed around the 20 minute mark when they played a neat ball into the right channel and their wide man finished well, shooting across Archie and into the far corner. Josh and Luke swapped sides and Lewis moved up front with Ed moving back into midfield. This, and the shock of going a goal down, seemed to revitalise the Crosspool lads and we started to get on the front foot. Josh was unlucky with a run into the box which their defender managed to clear with a last ditch tackle. Chesterfield were defending their lead well though and we were struggling to break them down. Just on the stroke of half-time a good move through the centre resulted in a free kick after Joe was dragged down by their defender. Lewis stepped up to take the free kick and rifled it into the net via a deflection off the wall. A great time to score and we went into the break on equal terms.
The 2nd half saw more of the same - Chesterfield were strong, direct and committed and they were causing us problems at the back. Going forward we weren't as fluid in our movement and the passing wasn't quite up to our usual standard so we were struggling to create chances. Dylan won some important headers and Ben worked tirelessly making important interceptions at the back. Once again a long ball was our undoing though as Archie came to clear and the ball dropped to their right midfielder who struck it first time against the post. Unfortunately it dropped into their onrushing striker's feet who side-footed into an empty net to make it 2-1. Lesser sides might have crumbled but to the Crosspool lad's credit the goal got a positive reaction and for the first time in the game we took control, passing and moving in their half. Luke was starting to get a bit more of the ball in their half and contributing to our attacks. John's contribution was already excellent but he topped off a fine performance with a fantastic goal. Picking the ball up in the centre circle he beat 3 players with a mazy dribble, played a one-two with Josh and beat another 3 players before cooly slotting the ball into the net. A great way to open his account for the season and get us back in the game! This would normally be the time in the game where our fitness and control of the ball started to count but Chesterfield came back at us pushing us further back towards our goal. They got a corner on their left hand side which took a wicked deflection off Ed's shoulder and looped up over our front two defenders. Their number 3 rose to meet it with a strong header and we found ourselves behind again. This time the equaliser didn't come and the rest of the game was played out without much incident or real urgency from the Crosspool lads with the score ending 3-2.
A disappointing result which, unlike the week before, was about as much as our performance in the game deserved. Ed worked tirelessly up front and in midfield and Ben was strong at the back but John was by far our best peformer. There were some positives in the game such as our character and determination when going behind and special mention should go to Ed who showed great sportmanship in telling the referee that he'd mistakenly given a corner - it was nice that one of their supporters recognised this after the game. The league is now out of our hands but there is still 2nd place to play for with the outside hope that Millmoor slip up in their remaining 3 games. We have to pick ourselves up now ready for another tough game against Hillsbro Pumas next Sunday.
Millmoor 1 Crosspool Reds 0
Well, that makes it interesting! Our first league defeat of the season against our closest rivals opened up the battle for Division B Green with Millmoor moving 6 points clear, having played 2 more games than us. It was a bit of a slow burner with both teams looking a little nervous to start with. The plan was to try and get at Millmoor down the wings and this worked to some extent with Taylor putting two good crosses into the box which we couldn't quite get on the end of. Millmoor were causing our back three some problems though with long balls which we struggled to clear and we weren't really getting hold of the ball in midfield. We switched to a more familiar 2-1-4-1 and this made the difference with John making the extra man in midfield, giving Lewis and Ed licence to attack down their flanks while Zac made some good lay offs into the path of Joe and Taylor. We were starting to get on top, creating a few half chances which on another day might have fallen more kindly in the box. We were missing dead eye Luke though who was carrying a foot injury and had to watch the game from the bench. Alex was also away so another source of goals was missing. Dylan and Ben gradually began to get control at the back after a shaky start and, as the half came to its end, they looked like they'd never been apart. Millhouses were starting to get frustrated as we began to show our superiority but the score remained level at the halfway mark.
The second half saw Josh replace Zac up front and make an immediate impact. He showed real determination and energy up front, pressuring their defensive line and setting the tone for the midfield players behind him. We really started to dominate with Joe putting himself about in the middle and playing some precise through balls for Josh who might have been on the scoresheet with a little more luck. Lewis was unlucky not to finish after a good run in the box, beating two players only to shoot tamely at the end of his run. Ed worked tirelessly down the left flank putting a fantastic cross into Josh who couldn't quite connect with his head. Millmoor didn't really have an answer to our relentless play other than the punt up to their forward which Dylan was dealing with brilliantly. Archie had to race off his line to clear up a couple of times but was never really under any pressure. Taylor and Joe worked a couple of short corners brilliantly and, with better delivery, could have created a golden opportunity for the lads waiting in the box. More chances went begging and we were probably guilty of trying to force the game, commiting players to attack and looking to get the 3 points. There was a strong penalty claim when a shot from Joe struck their defender on the hand in the box only for the referee to wave play on. It would have been harsh had it been awarded to be honest but we were beginning to get frustrated and maybe started to play a little impatiently. The ball just didn't seem to want to go into their net as we created chance after chance with Luke looking on in agony! With 5 minutes left and the game looking like it may end in a draw, we failed to deal with another long punt from Millmoor which fell to their forward with him just managing to poke it over Archie and, despite Ben's best efforts, it bounced into the back of the net. We pushed hard for an equaliser with time running away from us and it looked like we'd got it after another great through ball from Joe into Zac. Zac did everything right, his first touch out of his feet and his finish arrowed towards the corner but somehow their keeper made a fantastic save to push the ball around the post. As we pushed further and committed players to the attack Millmoor almost scored a second on the break, striking the upright with a strong shot. The ref blew his whistle for full-time and the Millmoor lads celebrated their important victory.
You don't always get what you deserve in football and today was definitely a case of that. The law of averages says that if we create that number of chances in a game we'll not lose it again. We certainly couldn't fault the lads commitment, their effort or their character today and some of the football they played was fantastic. We certainly shouldn't be too down about the result and should bear in mind that if we win our remaining games we will get the chance to put things right in a play off against Millmoor (assuming they win their remaining games). This will definitely make us stronger as a team and, like all good teams, we will improve and learn from our setbacks. There were a few contenders for man of the match today but it ended up going to Joe who was excellent throughout showing some lovely touches along with a strength and determination in the centre of the park - he just needs to start adding goals to his game and he might end up a decent player!
Darfield JFC 0 Crosspool Reds 2
Our season resumed against 4th placed Darfield after a long winter break. This was a tough fixture against a good side made all the tougher by us missing John, Dylan and Greg. Our preparation wasn't helped by a road diversion which some fine and upstanding community members had turned the diversion signs around so that we ended up driving around in a circle of the actual place we were meant to be playing (at least, that was my navigator's excuse!). Then, just as things couldn't get any worse, 5 minutes before we were due to kick off, it turned out that Archie was nursing a sasparilla hangover and was still in bed! A quick reshuffle ensued and Lewis 'volunteered' to don the keeper's gloves. The good news was, Ben was returning to the fold after a long injury lay off and our new signing, Zac, was making his league debut. As you'd expect, we weren't at our best after this less than perfect preparation. Quite a few passes were going astray and we were struggling to create any meaningful chances despite seeing more of the ball than our opponents. Taylor tried to drive us forward and Ed and Zac were combining well down the left hand side but their keeper was largely untroubled. At our end, Lewis 'the cat' McConnell was calm and composed between the sticks. He didn't have a lot to do apart from an unorthodox save with his legs but he did get us playing through Ed and Joe from the back. Ben had his hands full with their pacy and robust forward but he was equal to the task and very little got past him. Alex and Josh were working hard to try and get back into their stride and both were unlucky with shots from outside the box. Luke had some classy touches but found himself up against a good defender who thwarted him just as it looked like he was going to produce. Zac and Luke swapped positions midway through the half and Zac's pace gave them another problem to think about as we started to get on the front foot. We were tending to rush our final ball though which didn't help although this was probably down to lack of games as much as anything.
We spoke at half-time about being patient on the ball and looking to get our passing going on what was an excellent pitch for the time of year. Sleepyhead came on to replace Lewis in net with Lewis replacing Alex in the middle of the park. Luckily all that sleep hadn't affected Archie's concentration and he slotted back in organising the back three in his usual fashion. Lewis made a big difference in the middle, getting on the ball and playing some good first time passes to his team mates. He also got around the pitch well making some important interceptions. Ed was really impressive down the left-hand side causing them problems with his marauding runs and was unlucky with a shot from the edge of the box. We were beginning to control the game now and Darfield were being pressed back. We began to work their keeper a lot more and Taylor was really unlucky with a first time shot that looked to be flying into the top corner before their keeper saved. Josh was making some good runs down the left hand side and almost found his way through to goal only to rush his shot. The back three were solid and Joe and Ed were getting forward well to make the extra man in midfield while Ben reminded them of their defensive duties. Alex replaced Josh on the left hand side and impressed straight away, combining brilliantly with Taylor, Lewis and Ed in some lovely flowing moves (a clever little back heel was particularly impressive). The breakthrough was coming as we cranked the pressure up and it came from a familiar source. Lewis knocked a fantastic corner in from the left which bent into the 6 yard box and Ed stooped low to bravely head into the back of the net - a goal richly deserved after another selfless performance! As the half wore on we looked like we needed to get a second and kill the game off. Darfield pushed on the break and were unlucky not to score from a corner which Archie did well to clean up. Another corner, this time for Crosspool and from the right, resulted in the all important second. Alex shaping to receive a short one from Taylor, cleverly arced his run behind his marker to find space. Taylor knocked the ball into the box and it fell into Alex's feet who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net with his right foot. Josh came on to replace Zac up front and hassle and harry their defence. The second goal had knocked the wind out of Darfield and we controlled the final few minutes without really threatening to score a third.
We said before the game that these are the sort of games that require character and hard work and it was pleasing to see each and every one of the lads show this today in what were difficult circumstances in more ways than one! These are the sort of results that win leagues - we just need another six of them. Special mention to Ed and Joe who, once again, did a job for the team and did it with grit and determination. Great to see Ben back running the show in defence and also to see Zac make his league debut. Man of the match though goes to Lewis who made this goalkeeping lark look easy and then proceeded to put on his red shirt and run the game in the middle - a really mature performance showing his commitment to the team.
Chesterfield Town 1 Crosspool Reds 3
A late kick off away at Chesterfield and a potential banana skin with our man of the match from last week - John - missing. Despite warnings before the game that we couldn't afford to underestimate our opposition, we looked to be playing within ourselves during the first half. This may have been down to the team the manager picked with the back three not really working and long kicks from their keeper going over the midfield and causing us problems. We huffed and puffed but couldn't really get going and Archie had to be on his toes to clear up behind the defence on a couple of occasions. Greg replaced Luke and moved over to the left hand side of the defence, with Ed pushing further forward. We started to get on the front foot and Joe was unlucky with a pass through to Josh that he couldn't quite get on the end of. Chesterfield were a threat though and Archie had an important save to make after another ball over the top which we failed to deal with. Greg started to grow into the game, taking his cue from Dylan and Lewis alongside him, reading the game well. Taylor and Alex started to get going as the half wore on trying a couple of long range shots that didn't quite come off. Joe worked his socks off in the middle, putting in some strong tackles and making good forward runs with the ball. The half-time whistle went with the score at 0-0 and the Chesterfield lads greatly encouraged by the way the game had gone.
At half-time the hairdryer made a brief appearance(!) and the lads were reminded that their work from the previous week against Millmoor was in danger of being undone. Luke came on for Josh on the left-hand side, Lewis moved into midfield and Ed moved up front with a point to prove. To be fair to the lads their response in the second-half was excellent. Each and every one of them stepped their games up and Chesterfield realised their half-time optimism may have been misplaced. We really started to get on top and press the opposition back with Taylor and Joe taking the game by the scruff on the neck. Ed offered real threat up front and pushed their defence and midfield further back with his pace and pressing. Lewis, making the extra man in midfield, started to drive the game forward and Luke and Alex were dangerous on the wings. Chesterfield were still a threat though and Archie had to make two brave saves at their forwards feet to keep us in the game. The deadlock was finally broken after a move down the right hand-side which saw Alex play a clever pass into Luke who finished brilliantly into the bottom corner. A second came soon after following another bout of pressure which Chesterfield struggled to clear their lines from. The ball eventually fell to Josh who headed goalwards and was pleased to see the ball bounce off their defender and into our net. We were really starting to play now and showing why we are top of the league. Joe made a great run from deep, beating four players and finding himself through on goal. It should have been a goal but, instead of taking the shot, he tried to round the keeper who stuck out his leg and put the ball out for the corner. We almost scored from the corner after an inswinging delivery from Lewis but then found Chesterfield breaking at the other end with Dylan having to make a fantastic saving tackle which was just enough to put their striker off, making him pull wide. Ed got on the end of a clever through ball from Taylor, finishing brilliantly, only to find that one person at the game thought he was offside. Unfortunately for Ed that person happened to be the ref. Disappointed wasn't the word! The goal of the game came after Ed's tireless running up front saw him in the right channel. He cut inside their defender on his left foot and floated a ball over into the box right onto Luke's right foot. Luke still had a lot to do but he struck the ball sweetly on the volley and their keeper had no chance - 3-0. Taylor came off for Alex and we looked to kill the game off in the last 5 minutes. However, a bit of sloppiness crept in again and their midfielder found himself through on goal with only Archie to beat. He rifled the ball into the roof of the net giving Archie no chance. Archie was rightly disappointed that he'd not kept the clean sheet his performance deserved. The final whistle went soon after to signal another three points for the Crosspool Reds.
The lads came off the park looking like they'd lost a pound and found a penny! They had to be reminded that we'd won the game and were now 6 points clear at the top of the league with over half of the season gone. A much improved second-half performance with lots of positives - the biggest of which was Greg getting a good run out and really finding his feet during the game. Archie put in another excellent performance and deserves mention for his bravery and decision making. Joe took his opportunity in the middle and excelled in both halves but faded towards the end which saw Taylor just edge him for the man of the match award. The next time we are scheduled to play is in 2015 and it will be up to our opponents to try and make up ground on us in the meantime. Well done lads, enjoy the break and stay fit!
Crosspool Reds 1 Millmoor Juniors 0
This was a really gutsy performance from the Reds against possibly the strongest side they've faced this season. Millmoor look like being our closest rivals in a hard fought league so it gave us great satisfaction to take the points in this close encounter. The game started slowly with both teams defending well and little in the way of chances created. Josh was unlucky on a couple of occasions not to get on the end of through balls from Taylor and Alex. At the other end Dylan and John had to be on their toes to prevent Millmoor from scoring. Both sides were cancelling each other out in midfield and Millmoor were pushing us back into our own half with Ed and Joe dropping to help out at the back. Millmoor were unlucky after their central midfielder took a long range shot which Archie did well to parry. Luke was holding the ball up well further forward but, with our other attacking players dropping deep, we were struggling to support him. Lewis came on for Josh moving into the back line with Dylan while John moved further forward. Taylor was taking a bit of a battering in midfield with some tough tackles going in on him. We started to get the upper hand though as John took command in the middle and Lewis got us playing from the back. Still though we struggled to break the well organised Millmoor back line and the half time whistle blew with the game at stalemate.
We spoke at half-time about each of us giving that extra 5 percent to try and get on top in the game and the lads responded brilliantly. Slowly but surely we began to get a hold of the game, passing well through the middle with Taylor and Alex causing problems for their midfield. Ed, now playing on the left, was also causing problems for their full-back and was unlucky not to break the deadlock after a great move which saw Taylor play him through on goal. Dylan and Lewis were marshalling the back line brilliantly with Archie mostly untroubled. Once again, Taylor drew a foul, this time within shooting distance. He brushed himself down to take the kick himself and curled one into the top corner brilliantly to make it 1-0. Maybe now the manager will believe him when he says he's two-footed! John really took a grip of the game in midfield now and we were turning the screw, pressing Millmoor back into their own half. Josh replaced Luke up front and then moved to the left with Ed moving up front as Millmoor pressed for an equaliser. Archie had to be alert on a couple of occasions but was more than a match for whatever the Millmoor forwards could throw at them. We threatened to score a 2nd as we pinned the opposition back with our patient probing. Alex Darke was really unlucky not to add to the score after a fantastic passing move through the middle and a first-time strike from long range which struck the outside of the post. Dylan almost got his first of the season after striking the ball in the six yard box from a corner and John was unlucky after making a great run through their defence which was eventually thwarted by a last ditch tackle. Lewis and Joe were combining well down the right hand side as we started to squeeze the play passing the opposition to a standstill. Our fitness and economy on the ball really started to show and Millmoor looked demoralised as the game drew to a close. The final whistle eventually blew to signal a hard earned but deserved victory and an excellent 3 points that will make the rest of the league sit up and take note.
There were a number of contenders for man of the match today with some fantastic performances. Dylan went about his job in his usual composed and efficient manner. Taylor took a real battering but never let it affect his game. Lewis responded brilliantly to put in a superb performance at the back. But, (not so) fresh from his sleepover at Ben's, John just about edged it (once he'd woken up!) putting in a dominant display in midfield, defending on the front foot and driving us forward in the second half. Archie also deserves special mention for another clean sheet which was just as important as the goal. Three points clear at the top of the league - well done lads!
Crosspool Reds 5 Hoyland Town Juniors 1
Another 3 points for the Crosspool juggernaut although, to be honest, the scoreline probably flattered us a bit. Maybe a little bit of complacency set in or maybe the lads were coming out in sympathy for some of the parents that looked to be nursing sore heads on the touchline. We certainly weren't at our best and there were some far better moves on show on the Hallam dance floor the previous night than there were out on the pitch! However, credit to Hoyland who looked a stronger outfit than in the previous game and played some nice stuff in patches. We did the same really, playing in spurts, but our extra bit of quality just gave us the edge. Alex opened the scoring, finishing a neat move down the left following an unselfish assist from Luke. Hoyland replied with a well taken goal from outside the box which zipped along the grass, taking a deflection on the way in (according to Archie!) Josh, working hard on the left hand side, scored his 5th of the season after pressuring their defence and getting a ricochet from their keeper's save. Lewis was causing problems on the right putting in a great cross which Luke couldn't quite get on the end off. John came on for Josh into central midfield with Alex moving to the left hand side. Joe also swapped positions with Lewis. Another well worked goal was scored soon after- Ed attacking down the left flank, providing Taylor who laid on Alex for his 2nd goal of the game. Alex's first touch was excellent, getting the ball out of his feet and away from the defender to finish into the bottom corner. Dylan looked back to his best, faultless in defence and organising the players around him brilliantly. The half-time whistle was blown with the score at 3-1.
We spoke at half-time about trying to lift our game as a team and moving the ball a bit quicker around the pitch. We also changed things round a bit, moving to 2 at the back to try and get our passing going in midfield. To be fair, the lads did respond to this and Josh, now playing up front was unlucky not to get on the score sheet again following a good run and pass from John. We earned a couple of free-kicks in dangerous areas but failed to threaten with our deliveries (some work on the training ground required there). Joe, now playing in midfield, was making some good runs from deep and was unlucky not to score, hitting the bar and then hearing the whistle blow for offside after a perfectly timed run and pass from Taylor. He eventually got his reward for his hard work though with Josh playing a good ball into his feet which he finished into the top corner. Ed moved up front and ended his mini goal drought with a calmly taken finish into the left-hand corner of the net - just in time for the big one next week! The game petered out a bit with the score at 5-1 and neither side really looking like scoring. Hopefully the Reds were saving their legs for the top of the table clash against Millmoor next week.
With us back at the top of the table this was all about the result rather than the performance. We know we can all play better and we will do next week. There were a few contenders for man of the match but Josh just edged Dylan with an energetic performance playing in a few different positions and causing problems for Hoyland wherever he popped up on the pitch. Well done Josh!
Crosspool Reds 2 Darfield JFC 1
This game was all about character and the Crosspool Reds showed it by the bucketful. With only 9 players available against a good Darfield side looking to gain ground on us, the lads really had to dig deep and earn the 3 points. Dylan passed a late fitness test which was good news for Archie as he hasn't had much experience at centre-half! We reverted to a back three with Ed and Joe joining Dylan at the back and the shape looked good as we started the game much the stronger team. Lewis and Taylor got on the ball in midfield and Luke was showing short to lay off to Josh and Alex. The football was free flowing and Darfield struggled to contain us as we offered threat all over the pitch. Their keeper was proving difficult to beat though and he made a couple of good saves from Josh and Alex. The breakthrough, when it came, was well deserved and another Taylor wonder goal. Their keeper (even though he was 6 foot 2) could do very little about Taylor's long-range shot as the ball sailed over his head, curling into the top corner. We kept up the pressure with Alex and Josh causing their full backs problems and Luke's movement and control making it difficult for their centre-back. Joe and Ed, ably assisted by D's defensive organisation, snuffed out any danger at the back and played the ball out from the back calmly. We created more chances going forward but failed to put them away which seemed to give Darfield a bit of encouragement. Ed had to be sharp, making a fantastic last ditch tackle, when their pacy forward broke well on the right hand side. We defended a couple of corners well, clearing our lines and breaking with pace. The half-time whistle went with the score at 1-0 and the nagging doubt that we may regret not taking a few of the chances we'd created.
As expected, Darfield came at us in the 2nd half and Dylan, Ed and Joe had to really be on their toes as they put the pressure on. Lewis moved to the left-hand side of midfield to try and cause their full back problems and Alex switched to the middle where his passing and vision started to get us back on the front foot. Taylor was immense again putting in another tireless performance and driving us forward by his sheer will. Once again we were thwarted by some fantastic saves from their keeper who was having a blinder. Ed, playing at left back, manged to also play left-midfield, left-wing, right back and centre-half all at the same time! Dylan showed his recent injury problems hadn't affected his reading of the game and bravery in the tackle, making a brilliant saving tackle on their centre forward when it looked like he was through on goal. The turning point in the game probably came when Darfield attacked down the right and put a cross into the middle which, for the first time in the game, Joe had switched off for. He reacted just in time to apply some pressure, as did Ed, and Archie came out to make a fantastic close-range save. A couple of minutes later Taylor broke through the middle and played the ball through to Lewis who finished brilliantly into the bottom corner. 2-0. Josh moved up front to cause problems for them with his pace on the break while Luke moved to the right of midfield to protect the left-hand side and get us on the ball. Just as the heart rates of the Crosspool supporters looked like calming, Darfield broke through the middle and their striker finished well into the bottom left corner giving Archie no chance. There were 3 long minutes to play but, to their credit, the Crosspool lads didn't panic and carried on playing the ball on the floor. With the Darfield lads tiring due to the amount of running they'd had to do to get the ball back throughout the game, the last minutes were played out without much incident. The final whistle went and we celebrated a deserved but hard earned victory. Once again we showed we're not just a pretty footballing side but have some real backbone and character. When the chips are down these Crosspool Reds are at their best!
Special mention to Joe and Ed who both played brilliantly considering they weren't in their favored positions - good players can play anywhere though! Seriously, the commitment they showed to their team mates was commendable. Also, we sometimes forget about the players that stop the goals going in but we should remember Archie's save at 1-0 which effectively won us the 3 points. Dylan too - like he'd never been away - was such a calming influence at the back. The man of the match award was really close with all 9 players playing their hearts out. Taylor just edged it from Ed and Alex who were both fantastic and would have got it on another day. However, it was difficult not to give it to Taylor after the shift he put in.
Crosspool Reds 3 Greenhill 4
A tough cup tie aginst the best team in Sheffield (for the Greenhill lads!!!) Greenhill started well and put our new back line under pressure but, in Ben and Dylan's absence, Ethan and John coped admirably. Nothing much got past them and they were calm and collected in possession. Joe offered some protection in front with Lewis and Alex further forward getting us playing. We were more than holding our own in the game and started to get on top as the half wore on. Luke was holding the ball up well and playing some lovely lay offs into Ed and Taylor who were working tirelessly on the wings. Greenhill caused us problems with some good set-piece deliveries but in open play the game was fairly even. Lewis and Taylor switched places and this seemed to work better for us with Lewis putting some good crosses in from the right and Taylor starting to boss the midfield. Ed was playing out of his skin, terrorising their full back one minute and sprinting 40 yards back into his own area the next to make a great defensive tackle. The Division A side were rocked when Lewis put in another good cross, which their defender headed clear, but to the worse place on the pitch for him. Luke took one touch out of his feet and stroked the ball into the top corner leaving their keeper rooted to the spot - 1-0 to Crosspool. Greenhill tried to respond to their setback but John and Ethan were having none of it. Archie too made some great interceptions and saves and we were looking really dangerous on the break. With the half-time mark approaching it looked more likely that we'd increase our lead but a long and hopeful ball from the Greenhill back line found their striker in what looked like an offside position. The whistle didn't blow though and their lad, in plenty of space, headed the ball over Archie and into the net - 1-1. We carried on trying to play but Greenhill had their tails up now and forced a corner which we defended badly, allowing the ball to drop and their player a free strike at goal. We were 2-1-down. Our heads dropped a little as Greenhill went for the kill and they grabbed a third after Archie was unlucky with a ball that squirmed under his body and dropped kindly for their player who tapped into the net. With the score at 3-1 and Greenhill in the ascendancy the half-time whistle couldn't come quick enough for us. We went into the break feeling a bit sorry for ourselves which was understandable considering how well we'd played.
With the wind behind us in the second half we showed great character in grabbing control of the game back. Josh replaced Lewis on the right and looked like a man on a mission. We really got on the front foot and pressured the opposition into their own half. Taylor's energy and commitment in midfield saw him targeted by a few of their players but, despite taking a couple of knocks, he drove us on. Ed single-handedly ran the left flank causing all sorts of problems for them and this was the source of our second goal after a good move down the left which Ed played into Dead Eye Luke with the arrowed drive into the net inevitable. We pushed for the equaliser, leaving gaps at the back and Greenhill showed what a good side they are by exploiting this and scoring a well worked goal to make it 4-2. It was a real baptism of fire for our new signing, Greg, who came on to replace Alex in midfield for some fresh legs. Great credit to the Crosspool lads who never gave up the fight and pushed Greenhill right until the last. Joe grabbed a 3rd with a chest and volley from a Taylor throw which their keeper spilled. Ed moved up front to try and grab us a winner with the goal his peformance deserved. He almost got it when he dashed onto a good through ball from Josh. But, it wasn't to be, the final whistle went and the Greenhill lads breathed a sigh of relief knowing they'd been in a real game.
Every single one of the lads did us proud today and it seems harsh on the rest of them to give a man of the match. But, Ed's performance was immense. He ran himself into the ground, really putting a shift in for his team mates. He really didn't deserve to be on the losing side and neither did the rest of the lads. Special mention to Luke too who is having a great season and is now our top scorer with 7 in as many games. Also, well done to Greg who was thrown in the deep end a bit but came up smiling - it will get easier!
Crosspool Reds 2 Norton Lees 2
Another classic against our close rivals Norton Lees. The game kicked off on a lovely autumnal day with the conditions perfect for football and both teams putting on a display to match the dazzling sunshine. Crosspool got off to a really good start, passing with patience and composure through the thirds. Our possession began to turn into chances with Ed unlucky not to connect after a run and cross from Taylor. Taylor also put in some fantastic corners which were begging to be converted but, other than Joe striking a post, the finishes the deliveries deserved never came. We took a deserved lead through a great team move down the left hand side - Ed crossing to the back post, Alex nodding back across to Luke and Luke stroking the ball into the top corner of the net with a classy finish. We pushed for another and created chances but were a bit shot shy, taking too many touches in the box instead of finishing early. We were unlucky not to add a 2nd with a long range shot from Taylor which hit their defender and looped onto the bar with their keeper stranded. Norton began to get a foothold in the game as the half wore and we began to regret not finishing the game when we were on top. Dylan and Joe had a bit of work to do at the back to prevent their striker from getting in on goal. When he did breach the Crosspool defensive line Archie was more than a match for him, making a couple of great saves at his feet. The half-time whistle went with the score at 1-0 but Norton still very much in the game.
Norton came out for the 2nd half fired up and began to give us our toughest test of the season. Their midfield were on top with a few of our players looking tired and no fresh legs on the line to replace them. With the squad down to the bare bones it was time for the 9 lads on the pitch to dig deep and try and repel the Norton attacks as best they could. While we still looked dangerous on the break we were under real pressure and Norton eventually got the equaliser with a ball lofted over Archie after he'd come out to help his defence out. There was a real ebb and flow to the game now with Crosspool, maybe realising they weren't going to be handed the 3 points without a fight, starting to step things up. John and Joe swapped positions and Taylor moved to the right and this gave us a bit of impetus with Joe getting us playing, John shackling their danger man and Taylor a real threat down the wing. We were back on top and creating good chances - their keeper made a couple of excellent saves, one of which he tipped round the post after a curling strike from Ed. They also created chances and Archie had to be at his best to prevent them taking the lead. We were just edging it though and this told with another fine move through the middle, Alex touching a lovely lay off into the path of Taylor who still had a lot to do but carried the ball into the box and finished brilliantly into the left-hand corner. Once again though, we failed to kill the game off and Norton gained in confidence as we sat back and let them attack us. A free-kick from 10 yards outside the box took a wicked deflection and Archie had no chance as it nestled in the back of our net with Norton back on level terms. The game came to a thrilling finale when in the last minute Alex, once again, played Taylor in and it looked like a carbon copy of his first as he broke into the box but pulled his shot millimetres wide. The final whistle went with the points shared which, on reflection, was probably a fair result. Lots of positives to take into our cup-tie against Greenhill next week when we hopefully have a full squad and, with Millmoor and Darfield sharing the points in their match, we remain at the top of the league. Things are going to be interesting this season though - buckle yourselves in for the ride!
Man of the match this week goes to Taylor who had a tremendous game. He played a real captain's role, leading by example, talking to his team mates and putting everything into a classy performance. He got the goal his performance deserved and was unlucky not to add another 2 to his name. Special mention should also go to D who played through the pain barrier and was obviously struggling in the 2nd half but really put a performance in for his team mates.
Crosspool Reds 7 Worksop Town 0
The day got off to a bad start with a head tennis injury to our star striker in the warm up - Josh will do anything to make the starting line up! Things improved from there though, with Ed watching dizzily from the sidelines as his team mates put on a great show of attacking football that the Worskop lads struggled to cope with. Luke opened the scoring with a fine left foot finish after some good work from Taylor. Josh added another soon after, stroking the ball into the net with his right foot after a good passing movement starting from Ethan and John at the back. Luke scored his second, this time with his right foot, another classy finish with hardly any backlift but plenty of power. Taylor made it four with a long range shot which crept under the keeper. Ed eased himself into the game coming on to play in defence with Dylan while Ethan pushed into midfield. Joe also came on in the middle and soon placed a nonchalant left footed drive into the bottom corner of the net. Luke got a well deserved hatrick after rising at the far post and nodding the ball past their unfortunate keeper. John moved further up into his old midfield position to see if he could get on the score sheet and combined well with Lewis keeping the pressure on their midfielders. Worsop did break on a couple of occasions but Archie was alert and made two great saves to keep his goal from being breached. The Worksop lads were relieved to hear the half-time whistle with the score at 6-0.
The second half was a bit more even with us switching to 3 at the back and giving the lads an opportunity to play in a few different positions. Josh and Alex impressed as attacking wing backs, looking comfortable on the ball and playing out from the back. Archie was called into action on a couple of occasions but there was no way he wasn't keeping a clean sheet. Lewis put some great crosses in from the right which deserved finishing but we couldn't quite get on the end of. Their keeper made a couple of wonder saves to rival Archie's display at the other end. One in particular from a Taylor special was worth the entrance fee alone (or the raffle ticket!). Ethan went close with a couple of drilled shots which just pulled wide of the post. Ed, finally coming to, added a 7th with a trademark left foot finish. The game started to peter out as we recorded our 5th win of the season with the league now starting to take shape and Crosspool at its pinnacle. Third clean sheet of the season for Archie and his defensive partners which is just as important as what goes on at the other end of the pitch.
The man of the match award goes to Luke who scored a true hatrick (left foot, right foot and head) and turned in a real classy performance, showing his full compliment of skills and tricks. When in this sort of form he makes it looks effortless and is a joy to watch. Well done Luke!
Crosspool Reds 3 Stocksbridge PS 0 (cup)
A nervy cup-tie up at Dore against a tough Stocksbridge side who were well up for the game and well drilled. They did their best to stop us playing, pressing us high up the pitch and causing us problems on the break. The game started slowly with the Reds having the lion's share of the play. Despite our possession we were struggling to break down the Stocksbridge rearguard action. Stocksbridge looked to counter attack using their pacy striker but Ethan and Dylan were able to cope with most of their threats. John had to step in and make a fine tackle on the one occasion he did manage to break through. Taylor was unlucky with a long range shot which their keeper did well to parry and we had a few other long range attempts from Alex and Luke but struggled to create any clear cut chances. The scores were still even at half-time with the team talk stressing the need to step things up and try and get at Stocksbridge down the flanks.
The second half saw an improvement as we began to turn the screw and peg Stocksbridge in their own half. They still made it difficult for us to break them down although Luke and Josh were having success down the wings, putting in some dangerous crosses which we almost got on the end of. The breakthrough eventually came 15 minutes in from a Taylor corner which struck their keeper and spun off into the net - 1-0. Stocksbridge had to now try and respond which saw the game becoming more open. They almost grabbed a quick equaliser with a good ball through to their striker which Archie did brilliantly to come and clear with a brave sliding tackle at the forward's feet. As Stocksbridge pushed for their equaliser they left themselves open to our pace on the break and were soon punished after a swift move down the right saw Josh feed Alex who, with great awareness, squared to Ed to poke into the bottom right corner. A third (and Ed's second) soon followed after a good through ball from Joe after a neat combination with John and Taylor expertly placed into the net. The scoreline probably flattered us a little in the end but we grinded out the result against a well organised and motivated Stocksbridge side booking our place in the next round against Greenhill. Man of the match went to John Lowe who was at his imperious best; tackling, harrying, passing with intelligence and patience and generally bossing the game from start to finish - well done John! Special mention too for Archie, who made some good saves at important stages of the game and deserved his clean sheet.
Hoyland Town Juniors 2 Crosspool Reds 9
A really pleasing performance from the Reds against a decent Hoyland outfit who ran us close in the first half. On a big pitch, with the grass in need of a cut, it took a little while for us to adjust to the conditions but, like all good teams do, we persevered and found the solutions. Lewis opened proceedings with an absolute screamer from well outside the box with his left foot. Their keeper had no chance! Hoyland looked to respond with long balls to their nippy striker and Dylan and Joe had to be on their toes to prevent them from scoring. Archie also made a couple of important saves as Hoyland showed some real menace going forward. Ed and Josh looked dangerous down the wings and almost played Lewis in with some fine crosses. Lewis was playing really well, working hard for the team up front and playing in his team mates with some intelligent balls. Ethan came on to replace Joe at the back and, despite carrying a knock on his hip, was soon back in the old routine with Dylan, tackling and reading the game well at the back. Taylor's runs from the middle were causing them real problems and this was the source of our second goal - a classy run from deep through the centre of their defence and just as classy a finish. Taylor did well to stay on his feet as their defender made a desperate lunge to bring him down inside the area but nothing was going to stop him from rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into the back of the net. Luke came on for Lewis on the left with Ed moving up front and giving their defenders something else to worry about. John's energy in the middle and tireless tackling gave us a good base to work on with Alex playing clever balls out wide to our tricky wingers. The half-time whistle blew with the score at 2-0.
The second half got off to a fantastic start with a lovely flowing move straight from the kick off which involved most of the Reds players in a two touch passing move that cut through the Hoyland midfield and defence like a hot knife through butter. Luke was really unlucky to be given offside by the referee as he bore down on goal. Slightly against the run of play Hoyland pulled one back after another excellent Archie save which fell fortunately to their striker. Hoyland looked to have their tails up but someone should have warned them what happens when we get angry! Ed hit a wonder shot from the left hand side of the area which crashed against the bar for our fox-in-the-box, Alex, to follow up and fire into the net. Alex made it 4-1 soon after with a snaking run in the box which left their defenders on their backsides as he rifled into the top of the net. Lewis added a fifth, showing great composure, after a lovely team move through the middle involving John, Taylor and Alex. Luke made it 6 sweeping one in from the left hand side. Then Alex claimed his hatrick with another goal poachers finish. Hoyland grabbed one back after a bit of a mix up at the back but we made it 8-2 after Luke was brought down in the penalty area and Lewis stepped up to claim half the match ball with Alex. Josh saved his best till last with a wonderful long range effort into the roof of the net to make it 9-2.
Some fantastic goals were scored but the most pleasing aspect was the team performance and the goals scored throughout the team. Despite not scoring, Ed's contribution and assists were very much appreciated by his team mates (and the coach). Alex and Lewis both had fantastic games and deserved their hatricks. There were some great moments in the game but the one that summed the performance up best was John making a lung-busting run into the opposition area, the ball breaking, Hoyland on the attack and John running back the full length run of the pitch to put a determined tackle in on their forward and win the ball back (at 7-1 up!!!). The man of the match vote was put out to the team and Alex just beat Lewis to it with an excellent all round performance - well done Alex! Lewis was a little unlucky after putting in one of his best performances in a red shirt, really getting himself involved and working hard for his team mates.
Crosspool Reds 2 Stocksbridge PS 0
Our first home game of the season on our new pitch at Dore, against one of our close rivals from Division C, Stocksbridge Park Steels. Stocksbridge were the only side to beat us in the league last season with a deserved 4-0 victory at their place. So, with only 9 players available for selection, this was always going to be a tough game. The game was very tight with both teams sizing each other up early on and little in the way of chances being created. The Stocksbridge back 3 held strong as we probed through the middle, trying to release Ed. They also looked dangerous on the break, unlucky with a couple of long range shots that floated just over Archie's goal. We struggled to get our football flowing as the half wore on and the game became more and more scrappy. The defences were on top with Dylan and Joe repelling any Stocksbridge attacks and Stocksbridge sitting deep, looking to hit us on the break. We broke ourselves on a couple of occasions and fashioned a couple of half-chances, one of which Josh was unlucky with. The whistle blew for half time with the score at 0-0 and very little in it.
We started the 2nd half far better, passing our way through the Stocksbridge lines and looking dangerous. Our fitness began to show as Alex and Taylor moved the ball crisply from side to side. Ed and Josh worked hard down the flanks and John began to assert himself. Most of the play was in the Stocksbridge half as we turned the screw tighter. Chances were created but narrowly missed and still the score remained 0-0. A good move down the right saw Lewis hold the ball up well and tee Taylor up for a shot which he was unlucky to see rebound back off the post. Joe and Dylan showed great composure whenever the ball did cross into our half and made sure we stayed on the front foot. Eventually the breakthrough came after more good hold up play from Lewis and a long range shot from Alex which was too hot for their keeper to handle. We kept up the pressure and increased the lead through Josh, scoring his 2nd goal of the season with a smart finish. We were now in control of the game, moving the ball around the pitch swiftly with Stocksbridge tiring from their first half efforts. Ed was unlucky not to add to our tally after blazing over with his left foot late on. This didn't have any bearing on the result though as the final whistle blew and the game ended with another victory for the Crosspool Reds.
Not a classic performance but the result was all important. With Stocksbridge still to play in the cup we did enough to win the game without giving too much away for our cup tie! Also, considering the squad was down to the bare bones, we showed character and good battling qualities which bodes well for the season. Archie got his first (of many) clean sheet of the season. Special mention should go to John for travelling back from a 'late-night' in London to run his socks off for his team-mates - a fantastic effort. Joe's performance at the back saw him win the man of the match award, reading the game well in an unfamiliar position, giving little away and showing good composure on the ball. Well done Dougal!
Worksop Town JFC 1 Crosspool Reds 4
A long trek to Worksop for our first game of the 2014/15 season. The game started a little scrappily on a narrow pitch which saw most of the play crowded through the middle. Not much football was played by either side in the first 10 minutes but Crosspool soon started to solve the problems the pitch presented by getting the ball out to the flanks. Josh, making his league debut for the Reds after an impressive pre-season, caused Worksop problems down the right, while Lewis, in an unfamiliar role on the left was giving his marker plenty to think about. Joe stepped into a Ben shaped hole to help out at the back and looked comfortable next to Dylan. We started to create chances as the half went on with Ed going close and Alex and Taylor unlucky with shots that were well saved by their keeper. Ethan came on at the back to replace Joe and resume his rock-solid partnership with D. The pressure began to mount on the Worksop goal and Josh got off to the perfect start with an excellent finish after a slide rule ball from Taylor. Alex started to get on the ball and played Ed in who was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the left-hand post. John began to dominate, controlling the game from the centre of the pitch and protecting the back two in his new 'Makelele' role. Luke came on to replace Lewis, with Josh switching to the left and Luke working his magic down the right. Dylan was imperious at the back winning everything and distributing the ball brilliantly. Archie had very little to do but when called upon to sweep up behind our defence did so brilliantly. We created a number of chances with no response from Worksop and it looked inevitable that we'd score. The 2nd eventually came from a low corner from Taylor which ricocheted off their keeper and into the net (claimed by Taylor). The half-time whistle couldn't come quickly enough for Worksop as we rampaged through their defence and, but for snatching at our chances, could have added to our tally before the ref blew his whistle.
We started the 2nd half in the same vein, with Joe coming on in midfield for Alex. Some of the football was scintillating with Worksop running around chasing shadows as we passed through the thirds. Their keeper was keeping them in it with some fantastic saves, one a double save from an Ed shot which he tipped onto the bar and dived to save the rebound from Joe. We eventually got our third though with Taylor adding to his tally following a good move down the right hand side and an assist from Lewis. A Crosspool victory wouldn't be right without a goal from Ed and he duly obliged after the keeper parried his first shot with a right foot (yes, RIGHT foot) volley into the top right-hand corner of the goal. The referee turned down a blatant penalty after Joe rounded a Worksop defender and was tripped just as he was about to pull the trigger. The Worksop lads started to get a bit frustrated at this point and they must have thought there were 3 Johns and 4 Taylors as they hassled, harried and hurtled around the pitch with tremendous energy. The move of the game came down the right hand side with Alex, Luke, Lewis and Joe combining to great effect and almost crafting a chance for Taylor. With the game more or less in the bag we did start to take our foot off the pedal and, with D taken off to rest his hamstring, Worksop began to create chances. Archie had to save smartly to his right following one break and, just as it looked like he was going to get his clean sheet, we conceded what can only be called a bit of a soft one after we had a number of chances to clear. Next time Archie!
A great start to the new season. Three points in the bag, loads of positives, a few things we can improve on and top of the league (alphabetically!). Man of the match was a really close one but goes to Dylan who just edged out John. A really mature performance from Dylan - calm and authoritative throughout and impressive on the ball. Well done D and unlucky John - there was very little in it!