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Sun 17th November 2013 - League
Bullets 0 V 1 Hawkins Sports Juniors
Pitch : TBA
Match Report

Match Report – Sunday 10th November – Four Oaks Bullets vs Hawkins Sports

BULLETS MISFIRE FROM THE SPOT AND SUFFER THEIR FIRST LEAGUE DEFEAT

Bullets were back in league action, following their impressive win in the shield last week. The opponents were Hawkins Sports who the Bullets had beaten earlier in the season. Hawkins had made a flying start to the first couple of fixtures and it was a tough fixture before the Bullets took advantage of the space in the second half to score a resounding victory.

No such luxury this time, as a home fixture meant a hunt for a pitch. Five pitches at Rectory Park and only one playable, no choice then. It was the Bullets third fixture on that pitch and it had been noticeable, in the previous matches, that it just does not suit the Bullets style of play. Add to that the mud and physically bigger opponents and it certainly wasn’t going to be a free flowing exhibition of football.  

Bullets kicked down the hill in the first half and started with what proved to be the best move of the match. Vish found some space in the middle and fed Ellis on the right. Ellis beat his full back and whipped over the cross, Henry was first to it, under strong pressure from his marker, forcing the ball goalwards but despite it beating the keeper, there was not enough force on it and the keeper scrambled back to grab before the ball went over the line.

Bullets tried to play some flowing football but Hawkins were crowding them and it was difficult to penetrate their defence. Rajan came close to opening the scoring, as he met Charlie’s corner but he could not direct his volley on target.

Hawkins were far more direct and they were content to hit it forward early and compete from there. However the Bullets defence were in mean mood and they were very much on top of their opponents. From one such long ball, the ball was only half cleared by the Bullets, it fell invitingly to the Hawkins player and he aimed a long range shot at goal. Elliot B was caught a few yards off his line and was unable to adjust quickly enough and despite getting a hand to the ball, he could not prevent it from going into the net.

The Bullets seem to be getting into the habit in conceding the first goal and it was now a game of catch up. To be fair it was difficult to play much football in the conditions and Hawkins were defending well. Henry was working like a trojan up front, putting his markers under pressure but this week they were certainly equal to everything Henry was throwing at them. Whilst Hawkins were not posing a threat to the Bullets, thanks to a defence on top of their game, the same could be said of the Bullets, as both defences were dominating.

Bullets were given a way back into the match, when Henry again tussling with his marker, was shoulder barged out of the way in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Now it was one of those that you would be happy to get but maybe slightly unhappy if you conceded. Henry strode up to take the penalty and if he is honest he will admit that it was not struck that well, subsequently the keeper made the save. However, Henry was quick to the rebound off the keeper and made no mistake second time round. Bullets had the equaliser that their play had certainly merited.

Respect for the referee is something that is of paramount importance and although at sometimes we are all guilty of over questioning a foul or a decision, what happened next was off the scale for me. The Hawkins management, coaching staff and linesman were on the pitch screaming at the referee about encroachment. The referee was quite understandably shocked by this and for a moment did not know how to react. The upshot of this was the goal was disallowed and Hawkins were awarded the ball. Common sense prevailed, following consultation and the penalty was ordered to be retaken. Charlie stepped up this time but his strike was too good and the ball flew over the bar.

The Bullets trailed by a goal at half time and had to try and equalise going up the hill in the second half. The aftermath of the penalty incident was to certainly turn the atmosphere ugly. The team talk at half time was to try and put the penalty stuff out of their minds and concentrate on the game. It was clear that Hawkins had influenced the referee to change her mind, which they had been trying to do for most of the game and they would continue to do so.

The play in the second half pretty much mirrored the first half, Bullets trying to press forward but the Hawkins defence was equal to their efforts, whilst the Bullets defence superbly marshalled by Dan P and Sam were dealing comfortably with any of the fast breaks Hawkins were trying to launch. Even when the full backs changed in the second half with Reuben and Luke coming on for Max and Elliot C, the whole defence was strong, with Reuben especially enjoying the physical battle, winning tackle after tackle at right back.

If the penalty in the first half caused some upset, it was nothing compared to the second one being awarded. Dan S got behind the Hawkins defence from Rajan’s free kick. The referee clearly saw the centre half grabbing a hold of Dan’s shirt and decided it was sufficient to award a penalty. Cue the abuse. Now I am not supposed to offer my opinion on the opposition so I will leave it to you, as to what I thought.

Unfortunately the penalty was missed. This time Henry struck it much better but it went wide of the post. Perhaps it was going to be one of those days. Bullets continued to huff and puff but could not create a real gilt edged opportunity to equalise. A couple of near misses but that was it. Hawkins came close a couple of times but really did not threaten Elliot B’s goal in the second half.

The second half was an ugly atmosphere and the football generally matched it. The surface was not conducive to play anything on, apart from mud pie throwing and there was enough mud slinging going on, off the pitch. Bullets could not find an equaliser and Hawkins had their one nil victory.

If the antics in the game were hard to stomach, it actually got worse after match. A mark of a team and it’s officials, is how it behaves in defeat but more importantly in victory. Respect must be shown to the opposition whether you win 10-0 or lose 10-0. Maybe not in this case. Well at least they had the good grace to shake the officials hand afterwards, so that makes it alright doesn’t it. The final touch of class for me was the old fella who strode onto the pitch and made a big thing of thanking the referee for her efforts. Next time mate be a little bit less inconspicuous when hurling abuse at the official, your bag gives you away.

Well I can put my grapes away now and finish off the report.

Sam won parents man of the match with another find display at the heart of the Bullets defence.

Dan P won the managers man of the match with a superb display of the art of sweeping. I know he doesn’t like the position but if he keeps playing so well there, he has no chance of being moved.

No fixture this week but we are away to Cresswell in the league the following week. A performance to put right there then.

On the pitch front, hopefully things are finally sorted out and our next home fixture will be at Braemar Road. I await the next set of fixtures.

To finish an apology from Four Oaks Bullets to Alix and her dad, if any of our behaviour was considered inappropriate or disrespectful to her.  I like to think we try and conduct ourselves in the right manner and I hope she doesn’t let this match put her off from refereeing in the future. I personally thought she did very well despite what was going on around her.

 

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