The philosophy of success


Ally, 7 February 2008


A vintage performance from the team last night: a 10-0 victory, the largest in about four or five years. We were playing champagne football as a bemused ASA saw wave after wave of red attack, pace, flair and strength from all 14 players. The first half saw 8 goals from the reds and, as we eased off slightly, two in the second half. In no particular order (ahem) here's how it was done.

The team forged a positive start with Ally securing a corner virtually from kick-off, allowing the team to test a new system of corner kicks: left hand raised – front post; right arm raised – back post; both arms raised – penalty spot to six-yard box. Seeing our 6'+ German striker Conrad (a tempting target man to say the least), Ally raised both arms and flighted it towards our very own Blonde Big Brian (albeit on the front line) and although we didn't score, it laid our intention down and allowed us to be one step ahead of our opponents. Things carried on in this vein and it wasn't long before we took the lead. Great play from the back, recycling the ball from left to right produced a through ball to Clarkey, whose deft touch allowed Conrad in to score his first. 1-0. We've been ahead many times before, but this time could we keep the pressure on and deliver another blow to the other team? The answer was an emphatic yes: roles were reversed as Conrad slipped the ball through to Clarkey and he powered the ball home. 2-0.

The reds were buoyant but still aware that a goal from ASA would let them right back in. One of the emerging trends of the match was that when we had possession, we hardly ever gave the ball away. This is a very important factor and one that we have struggled with in the past. We were able to do this, however, because as soon as the back line collected the ball, there were always two players in space, close by to take a pass. Our third was a result of this calm play as about five players knocked it around ASA before Kieran chipped the keeper with his back to goal. 3-0. The fourth came from a monumentally strong run from Conrad, who brushed past about five ASA players and struck home from just inside the box to make it 4-0 after half an hour.

Owen's scoring record before this game had been 1 goal in over 100 games, and after the game it should have read 2. A looping ball into the box from the left wing was palmed by the stranded keeper and before it came out to Kieran to bury, it was judged not to have crossed the line. Kieran was closest to it, however, and said that it had crossed the line but the linesman missed it. Hard luck to the long-serving Lancastrian then but if he carries on playing like last night, a goal won't be too far away. So it was Kieran’s goal: 5-0. Clarkey was to secure his brace with a smart run down the right and a superb lob over the keeper to make it 6-0 just before Tamber played an exquisite through ball for Ally to beat two defenders with pace before blasting the ball home into the bottom corner. 7-0. With five minutes of the half remaining and with ASA posing no real threat thanks to PF's solid back four, Conrad got his hat-trick with another strong run and shot to make it 8-0 at half time.

At the start of the second half, Al came on for Clarkey and soon after, Ally made way for Tom. We were still dominant, though goals didn't come as easily as in the first half. What was encouraging, however, was that there was still a huge amount of support from everyone when we had the ball and also the few occasions when ASA were attacking. The ball was still being distributed well from the back with Damian and Phil's pairing looking better and better with every game. In fact all three partnerships in the spine of the team (Phil and Damian, Bryan and Tamber, Kieran and Conrad) looked more comfortable than any game before which meant the full-backs and wingers had freedom in attack, and communication from the back was good when the forwards were needed in defence. A ninth goal finally came when Kieran scored his third after a series of frustrating plays which didn't quite result in success, and Bryan finished things off with a penetrating run and a cool finish under pressure from their defence. Full time: 10-0.

A really great performance then, and in five and a half years at the club, I have never seen us play a finer first half than last night. We need to continue this form, however. We also need to realise that the next two matches will be much more difficult than our last two, but we should also realise that we can create chances against anyone in this league. That means we can score goals against anyone too. We might have to be a little more patient for the breakthrough but, if we play like we did last night, we will win the rest of our games. If we don't concentrate and focus for the whole match, however, we will lose.

The signs are good, though, and so is our form. We've won six games out of seven and, if we carry on like this, there's no reason why we can't continue on in strength for the remaining six games.