Report by G Paul
The rain stopped long enough for the under 12s to play their first game of the season against Cardiff on Saturday 15 February at Keynsham Town.
The game was a good opportunity to use a new formation with the central defensive midfielder and the number 10, playing in between the lines. These positions proved quite challenging at first. However, as the game progressed, the wing backs started to move forward and with more movement in between the lines, we were able to create more scoring opportunities.
Most of our goals were scored in the last two quarters but this was not enough to win the match, losing 6-5 at the final whistle.
Overall we kept possession well and we got to know each other’s play better. We were all excited about the new system and we are keen to learn more in our future training sessions. Next stop Reading!
Report by D Hodge
Being able to use the astro facility at Keynsham enabled us to get a much needed game for the year 7's. The boys had been doing very well in training, so it was good to have a chance to see how they got on in a fixture. There were several challenges for the boys in this game, in particular, an unfamiliar formation for them to learn. Cardiff also provided a good challenge with several technically good players and who displayed a good level of competitiveness.
Before the game we set out our expectations and focused on players applying the 'individual attacking' and 'defending in pairs' themes from training. The first period proved difficult for us to maintain any decent possession, which resulted in Cardiff being able to create chances all too easily. Understandably, the players' unfamiliarity of our playing system was proving a problem and our expectation for the game was to use it as a step towards learning how each playing position should function. After the first period we had our team chat and identified the key principles for each playing position and the players we then given the challenge to go and have a go at it.
As the game progressed and players played in different positions we started to show more purposeful play and, on occasion, managed to utilise our overload in central ares with good crisp passing. This is the detail that we look for and upon which we can build until we become more consistent.
In addition to the spells of possession, we also scored three good goals and despite the understandably unconvincing performance we were leading 3-1 with not long left. Cardiff continued to create good opportunities though and unfortunately got the game back level and got themselves in front, leaving us too little time to score a reply.
All in all the game was relatively even in performance but Cardiff managing to score on one more occasion than us. It was a good challenge and an opportunity for us to learn our new system, which with practice will prove effective. It is important to remember that, whenever we are learning something new and trying to perform at the same time, our cognitive (conscious thinking) resources are stretched, which means that others areas of our performance, such as our first touch, quality of passing etc can break down and not be as fluent. This was certainly to case for the majority do our players. This is though all part of the process of learning and the more we practice and understand, the more we can perform automatically (using less cognitive resources).
The key learning points from the game were:
1) The role of the central defensive midfielder to play in the space between the defending and midfield units and to be close enough to drop into CB position when we lose possession (particularly when our full backs are advanced)
2) The importance of the two central midfield players to find spaces and angles to receive to ball
3) The full backs to push on to give width when we have possession
4) The no. 10 to play in the space between the central striker and the midfield unit and to work with the striker to create angles off each other
5) The central striker to stay high enough to create space for the no 10 and to find passing angles off the no 10, midfield players and full backs
Our training will focus on helping the players apply the weekly coaching topics to the system that we play and help them to learn each of these roles