Quarry Rovers 2 - Summertown Cobras 2 (at half time)
Sunday 16th October
I deliberately waited a couple of days before writing this report to try and work out how on earth we lost this game but, to be honest, it’s still a mystery.
The start was oh-so-promising, this was the fluid, passing game we know Quarry are capable of.
A 3-5-2 formation had Azlan and Jacob up front with a back three of Tobi, Joseph and Thomas; the link-up play was crisp, the midfield dropped back to help out at the back and supported the front men in attack, and Quarry matched Summertown in every department. Xander and Faizan were in the thick of the action, Sultan marauded up the right at will, Ben was solid and dependable, and Haider’s shot, from a Xander cross and Faizan knock back, was saved without the keeper knowing much about it.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, though: In the first minute a Summertown cross managed to get all the way through the box without anyone connecting; Tobi had to clear off the line after Ollie was lobbed; and Ollie had to be alert to keep out a deflection creeping in at his near post. The manner of Summertown’s opening goal after 25 minutes was unfortunate, Ollie misjudging the bounce of a hopeful long punt.
The goal seemed to galvanise Quarry into serious attacks on the Summertown goal, Faizan picked up a pass on the edge of the area, took a couple of touches and unleashed a delicious curling shot to level the scores that had the Summertown keeper grasping at fresh air. This was followed a couple of minutes later by another Faizan delightful finish which (after the offside rule was explained to the linesman) gave Quarry the lead. It nearly became even better, the Summertown keeper obviously fancied himself as a Manuel Neuer type, but his embarrassment was spared after his poor clearance fell to Jacob whose long-range shot just missed.
This was a breathless, end to end, entertaining match and Summertown never stopped threatening either: Ollie made one save with his legs, tipped another shot around the post, but was beaten after the defence switched off to admire the right wing crossing on to an unchallenged head in the middle of the box. So, 2-2 at half time, honours even and probably a bit harsh on Quarry, who should have held a handsome lead but for a couple of lapses.
The start of the second half saw Joe introduced as Coach Alex tried to rest players in rotation. Quarry went ahead early as Azlan, who had terrorised constantly the Summertown defence, robbed a defender, fed Xander whose shot was half-blocked and was bundled in by Jacob. Faizan then produced a lovely turn and shot which was well saved as Quarry continued to threaten.
Mid-way through the second half and two quick Summertown goals turned the game on its head: Joseph and Ollie both went for the same ball giving the striker an empty net to lob in to, then a Summertown corner wasn’t properly cleared and was ruthlessly despatched from the edge of the area. If the crowd thought this was the start of a Quarry decline, the players thought otherwise, and there followed a period of sustained Quarry attacks, as if they were somehow affronted that the score line had gone against them. Wave after wave of Quarry pressure however created nothing but half chances and as they chased the game, space opened up at the back which Summertown started to exploit and Quarry were repeatedly caught on the break as the defence and midfield tired. Summertown scored four goals in the final 15 minutes.
The final score of 8-3 was harsh and unjust based on the balance of play over the whole 80 minutes; however, but for a couple of good Ollie saves at the end, it could have been even worse.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, never having played football myself (down in the West Country we played a game with funny-shaped balls), but I think there are some themes beginning to emerge after the first three games:
Quarry have a great team spirit, even when things aren’t going their way, the lads support each other, try their hardest, and never get on anyone’s back;
We can match any team for periods of a game, but not the whole game;
Given that we’re only in this League by unhappy accident, the players should be well chuffed that we’re competing for large parts of games;
We don’t have many substitutes which means very little rest for anyone;
We lose games in the final 15 minutes when, either through tiredness or from pressing forward too much, too much space opens up at the back and we get caught on the break;
“A” League strikers are ruthless and hardly ever miss their chances, whereas Quarry struggle to create clear-cut chances in spite of exerting loads of pressure;
We are certainly the only team in the U15 League with both bearded and moustachioed players, and should be proud of it.
Keep going, keep supporting each other, don’t give up and one day, out of the blue, everything will come together and we’ll take someone to the cleaners. As Ranieri put it, “dilly-ding, dilly-dong”.