Five - Star Hanley Man of the Match
Sixth league win in a row for the Cougars
After recovering from a bout of illness Paisley returned to the starting lineup.
Playing with a flat back three the starting nine was as follows:
Wheatley (GK) Goodchild, Paisley, Alcott (Def) Gorman, Easdale (c), Booth, Brockhurst (Mid) Hanley (CF) Subs: Morgan, Blackburn, Lowdell.
After a bright starting including a couple of well time interceptions, unfortunately, Paisley left the field injured with a heel problem. Lowdell took the field as his replacement and Ashington switched to the more familiar sweeper formation.
Copthorne setup in an ultra defensive formation. Looking to get eight outfield players behind the ball, Copthorne were looking to snatch a draw or keep the margins of defeat as low as possible. When in possession they looked to fire direct passes as their method of attack but, also in an attempt to just clear their lines from the Ashington Siege.
A very Bright start from the side. With Hanley laying on a slide rule pass to Easdale in the right channel of the penalty Box. Easdale moved smoothly onto the ball and from a tight angle lifted a glorious chip over the Goalie high into the top left hand corner. Great finish Tom.
Gorman, Lowdell, Morgan and Easdale went onto to add assists in the half. Along with Booth and Brockhurst, playing through illness, they looked to create chance after chance against the entrenched opposition.
Hanley converted these chances into Four first half goals. He has an uncanny ability to find the net and displayed his full range of finishing. Scoring with left foot and right foot into the bottom corners. My favourite: inadvertently deflecting a cross up off his shins over the keeper from the edge of the six yard line. Why? Because he made the correct run across his marker into the right area and was rewarded for being in the right place at the right time. Something he does consistently in every performance.
Gorman added his customary goal. Again, a display of improve passing. He was unlucky not to add to this tally. At times, he is like a force of nature. When this is harnessed into a team framework he is nearly unplayable.
6-0 at half time
Although seemingly impossible, Copthorne were even more defensive in the second half and the game became suffocating. Ashington’s defensive line now camped, on average, ten yards inside the oppositions half.
Sixteen outfield players were competing in under one half of a pitch and although Ashington tried to pass the ball and create space they were regularly frustrated.
Late on the Clean sheet was in danger! Making the correct choice to try and pass rather than hump the ball away, Alcott gave possession away on the half way line. Copthorne’s lone attacker accelerated towards the Ashington Goal. Lowdell and Alcott hared after him to try and stop a shot. Ever alert, Wheatley, came off his line looking to close down the angle. He got his angle correct and the ball came back off his left hand post. The ball rebounded back to Alcott, who had continued his defensive run past the goalkeeper to the goal line and he more than atoned for his slight error by clearing the ball to Safety. Great effort to stop a goal, well done.
Goodchild and Blackburn showed good defending - getting tight and winning possession back from the opposition well.
The side plugged away and added a seventh goal. A crisp first time through ball from Gorman that Hanley dispatched right footed low into the bottom left hand corner.
The team created another three good opportunities to score. Unfortunately , none were converted. In some part due to choosing to shoot rather than pass. But, the players are not machines. They are 11-12 year old boys who will make forgivable mistakes/poor choices. I can vividly remember being that age and the rush of excitement from scoring. It is intoxicating and I am sure you can appreciate why the players make the choice to go for goal.
The more they practice , train and play games as a group, the better the decision making will become but, at this stage, I am very pleased with how the team is progressing.
To the casual Fan, it would be easy to suggest that the score could/should have been increased further in the second half. But, as committed fans of the team, we appreciate that when one side looks to merely defend in numbers and reduce space then the task for the attacking side (Ashington) is doubly difficult.
Credit must go to the group for playing the ‘right way’ retaining possession, looking to create, entertain and attack. Scoring goals is the hardest skill in football and the team again did very well running up a good score against negative opposition.
This is the third league/cup game in a row where the opposition, Lingfield, Partridge Green and now Copthorne, have done this. The side have run out winners 6-1, 8-0, and 7-0.
It is becoming a case of our reputation preceding us. For the game to be a ‘spectacle’ for the fans both side have to try and play their part. But, the side continues to develop at a good pace.
Well done to the Group.
Captain: Tom Easdale
MOM: Brendan Hanley