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Sunday 20th February 2011
AFC South Ruislip v Actual Soccer â€" Kick Off â€" 10.30am
On a cold Sunday morning and on a pitch that the game probably shouldnâ€™t have been played on, the boys came up against Actual Soccer, who are having an excellent season and challenging for the Premier Division title. This was going to be a tough test for the team and was made even more difficult as the side was stripped of the services of Hailu Theodros, Jamal Akintayo, Tom Purcell, James Sinfield and Iain Miller, along with the continued absence of stay-away Luke Giger. With a bare 11 and with no subs, the match started. Actual Soccer played the ball forward quickly, but the defence of Ben Thomas, Charlie Spencer, Jack McGill and Matt Richards held firm and for all their possession throughout the half, Actual never really created any clear cut opportunities. The closest they did come was mid-way through the half, when the ball was played over Ben T and their strikersâ€™ short was parried by Lewis Harris, who comfortably collected the rebound. David Taylor, Bradley McDonald and Connor Butler, battled hard in the centre of midfield and the wide play of Ben House and Dylan Coone often caused problems for the Actual full-backs, but the pair were often starved of the ball for long periods. Mark Smith worked tirelessly in the main strikers role, but with the ball not getting to him often enough his creative side never really managed to shine. Charlie and Ben T both made great blocks to deny goal-scoring chances for the visitors, as the boys defended bravely. The game became a battle in midfield, which was made harder due to the boggy and sticky pitch, but both sides tried their best to play football. AFC South Ruislipâ€™s best chances came from free-kicks. Firstly David swung over a great cross that Mark met with his head, but the Actual goalkeeper saved low down by the post and then another was sent across the 6 yard box, but was cleared away from danger. Actual finished the half strongly with a header that went wide and a couple of shots from outside the area that went over the bar and past the post. As much as I could see that the pitch was taking its toll on the boys, I had no subs available to make changes, so had to trust the stamina of those trusted with playing in the match, which ultimately cost the boys the game. Both sides settled back into the competitive game and Actual had an n early shot that Lewis saved well and David forced a corner for the boys after a surging run from midfield. Bradley continued to win tackles and the ball in midfield as the boys took the initiative. Connor burst through from midfield and played Jack through on the right, but his cross was cleared and Dylan cut inside the right back and fired his shot wide of the visitorsâ€™ goal. Actual created a chance at the AFC South Ruislip goal, but when the cross was played into the area, the ball deflected off a defender and onto the knee of a striker, who could only watch as the ball looped agonizingly for him, inches past the post, with Lewis rooted to the spot. Mark was having to drop deeper to try and get the ball, but when he did he always caused the visitors central defenders problems as he ran at them with pace. With boys visibly tiring, Actual took the lead. A run down their right wasnâ€™t defended and when the ball was crossed into the area, a player was left unmarked to head the ball past Lewis into the net. The boys for all the effort had conceded a sloppy goal and need to get back into the game quickly. Shortly after came a major turning point in the game. Now I know the offside rule, but I have to question whether the linesman used by our visitors does. Bradley won yet another tackle in midfield and played the ball to Connor who broke through from midfield and was left with a run at goal with Mark supporting on his left with just one Actual defender for company. Connor delayed his pass until the defender made his move to close him down. He played the ball into the path of Mark, who swept the ball home from the edge of the area. 1-1. Oh no, the linesman had other thoughts, had raised his flag and the explanation was that the player was offside because the ball had been passed forward, not the player being in an offside position, but because the ball had been played forward !! Anyway, the referee disallowed the goal. The boys tried hard to get the goal back and a few minutes later were denied by an excellent save by the Actual goalkeeper. Charlie played the ball to David who broke from midfield and set off for goal. He turned on the edge of the area and hit his shot towards the bottom corner, but the out-stretched fingertips of the keeper diverted the ball inches past the post. From the corner the boys were hit with a major blow as Actual attacked quickly and after finding space on the edge of the AFC South Ruislip area, a player hit a speculative shot that deceived everyone and drifted into the top corner. The boys pushed forward to try and grab the goal their play deserved, but the visitorsâ€™ defence held firm and it was harsh on the boys as with seconds remaining, a defensive lapse of concentration allowed Actual to score again.
I couldnâ€™t fault the boys who played today for their effort and hard work, but they were again defeated by a questionable decision that cost them a goal and one that could possibly have changed the outcome of the game.
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