Patchy Performance Proves Pointless
By Kim Miles
Formby came back three times at York, but horrendous defending conceded a late winner.
The match started with the home side pressing forward and they had a short corner in the first minute as Harry Williams
tried to clear, lost possession and a defensive foot intervened. Sam Birtles
blocked the flick and Sam Mackarell
was alert enough top dive in and clear just as a second shot was being lined up.
The intensity of York’s opening pressure even had forward Sean Friday
making a good defensive tackle in the left corner. However, in the 6th minute, a pass to Rob Tinker
was mistrapped and resulted in the home side moving the ball smartly down their left and along the base-line. A simple cut-back was well finished, though Sam Birtles
will not have been pleased to be beaten on his near post.
Formby still failed to settle and a botched Tinker aerial was picked up and Formby were caught with just a couple of defenders facing at least 4 opponents. Fortunately the final pass was very poor and rolled harmlessly off the end of the pitch.
It was over 10 minutes before Formby enjoyed any possession in the opponent’s half, and Harry Pike
showed good control to weave his way round the defence and into the right of the circle, attracting a stick tackle and a penalty corner. Connel Capper
tried the direct approach, firing low to the left, but he didn’t get sufficient accuracy and the ‘keeper blocked fairly comfortably.
Formby continued to struggle to put and passing moves together, and their opponents enjoyed a similarly unproductive 5 minutes or so, before Mackarell’s defensive skills were again required as he timed his dive perfectly when he needed to, and cleared once again.
Another period of alternate midfield exchanges of possession followed and with around 10 minutes of the half remaining, Giles Hampson
seemed to have put in an excellent tackle to break up a home attack, but the ball broke unkindly for Formby and a snap shot from the right of the circle flew unerringly into the top right corner, giving Birtles no chance this time.
Formby seemed to be going nowhere, but the game changed abruptly as Tinker picked up the ball on left, on the York 22. His route forward was blocked by three defenders, but he forced his way through them and found himself in the circle. With the angle rapidly narrowing, he took a reverse-stick shot/cross and was delighted to see it squeeze between the ‘keeper’s pads and across the line.
Finally, Formby came to their collective senses and remembered how to pass to each other, rather than to the opposition. Felipe Davis-Guzman
and debutant Tom Gooding Exchanged passes and the Formby Found Will Miles
advancing into the circle. He got to the base-line and laid it back on a plate for Ste Wright
to finish accurately.
Astonishingly, having played as if they’d never met each other for 30 minutes, Formby were on level terms at half-time.
Would the second half continue the trend or had the break come at just the wrong moment? Formby started the half with a nice passing sequence between Hampson,Tom Hickson
,Miles, Gooding and Hampson again, but his final pass went astray. Mackarell then had to leave the field temporarily after a bang on the head from a lifted ball in his own circle. Inspection of his cranium revealed no discernible damage and he was pronounced fit to return.
Formby allowed a York break down the middle rather too easily, and Capper was adjudged to have interfered with the man in possession, though a very long advantage was played and when the York man concerned completely lost control of the ball when in a good shooting position through no fault of a Formby player, the award of as short corner anyway was a bit of having his cake and eating it.
York tried slipping the ball left, but Birtles dealt with the shot, although his colleagues then made very heavy weather of clearing the loos ball and eventually conceded another corner off a foot. This time York didn’t appear to stop the ball from the injection – it rather appeared to rebound off the stopper’s stick into the circle without clearly crossing the line, but the umpires saw nothing untoward and a flick came in that Tinker’s attempted clearance only managed to deflect the ball into his own goal (it may have been heading there anyway and it’s unclear whether Birtles might have been able to deal with it minus the deflection. Nay way, Formby were behind again, 2-3.
Formby put the pressure back on their hosts and 5 minutes later, a quickly-taken free hit in the 22 by Miles saw him feed Hampson, who burrowed his way along the right baseline before cutting it back to Wright, who again finished easily.
York came right back and Birtles had to kick clear a long forward ball that was deflected just inside the circle (it wasn’t clear whether by a Formby or a York stick, but he wasn’t taking any chances!). Gooding then made a good tackle to break up another home attack.
Play moved from end to end and Formby were unlucky to concede a penalty corner when the officials missed a clear York foot in the Formby circle but then had not trouble identifying a Formby one immediately after. This nearly produced a goal – for Formby! Birtles blocked the shot and Mike Davis picked up the loos ball on the right of the Formby circle. He moved it on to Capper, who spotted a gap down the middle of the pitch and produced a wonderful pass to Pi ke, which left him one-one-one with the ‘keeper. Sadly, he got overexcited and took an awful first touch. Sending the ball almost out of play to the left of the goal. He managed to retrieve it but then duffed his attempted pass straight to an opponent.
Formby kept up the pressure and a couple of minutes later a Tinker crash ball into the circle was deflected into a York boot and Formby had a corner. However, with both Capper and Josh Birtles taking breathers, Formby were short of options. The bench (Capper) hastily sent in a set routing, which the men on the field promptly ignores, as Tinker’s flick ping-ponged around in the goalmouth before ending up wide of the right post.
Formby were having rather the better of things now, and Friday and Birtles produced a promising move on the right side which was ended with a shove in Birtles back as he looked to attack the 22, which the umpire, oddly, deemed worthy only of a free hit. Formby retrieved the ball and a Birtles reverse-stick effort seemed to strike a defender’s shin, but the decision was a 16.
A York break down their right wing seemed to have been contained by the Formby defence, but a hopeful ball into the circle took a very favourable deflection off a Formby stick, right onto a York stick and Formby were behind yet again, 3-4.
It took barely a minute for equilibrium to be restored, as Wright was played in along the right base-line and with just the ‘keeper to beat from a very tight angle, he appeared to invoke some form of Jedi-mind trick to get him to dive out of the way, whilst lifting the ball deftly over him and into the net to complete his hat-trick.
Formby pressed for the winner and Davis-Guzman stole the ball from a defender and put in a shot that flew wide left of the goal. Then Miles and Mackarell conspired to get Capper free on the right baseline, but a last-ditch defensive tackle foiled his ambition.
With three minutes left, it looked as if Formby’s efforts would finally bear fruit, as Miles got free on the left, round the back of the defence. He found Birtles 5 metres out with just the ‘keeper top beat, but Formby’s top scorer failed to display his usual composure in front of goal, and flipped it well wide of the right post. Moreover, had he kept it on the ground towards either post, Miles or Wright might well have got the necessary finishing touch.
And, as usually seems to happen when such misses occur, Formby were caught a minute later. With the entire team, barring the two Sams, pressing for the winner, possession was softly conceded and Formby found themselves with 4 men bearing down on their 2-man defence. The result was inevitable – Mackarell managed to channel the ball towards a particular forward, who produced a suspiciously mishit shot which was lifted to Birtles’s left, albeit on target. He was expecting something much harder, but managed to back-pedal and get his mitt to the ball, but in the process couldn’t stay on his feet and didn’t manage to deflect the ball towards Mackarell. This left a disturbingly easy finish, which was duly made, and with Formby unable to repeat their instant comeback from the 4th goal, the match ended 4-5.
Not for the first time 4 goals away from home failed to do the business, which it really should, given the defensive personnel available (which on paper ought to be the strongest part of the side). At least Gooding made a promising debut, although unfortunately he isn’t available for the next game. Formby are capable of giving anyone a good run for their money, but must learn from their errors and start to produce more consistent performances if they wish to improve their league position.