Depleted Squad Hangs On with Some Style
By Kim Miles
Formby survived the late withdrawal from the team squad of Ste Wright and an injury that deprived them of Rob Tinker’s services for the last 25 minutes to overcome the challenge of Chester.
With the 2nd XI engaged in a top-two clash with Liverpool University, the decision was taken not to weaken them by “promoting” anyone when Ste Wright
had to withdraw his services to conduct essential offspring maintenance. This meant Formby would have to rely on just 13 players for the match. At least that was two more than had travelled to play Whitley Bay & Tynemouth a few weeks ago!
Chester started pushing forward, but ion the second minute a Connel Capper
aerial found Josh Birtles attacking the circle but his shot lack both power and direction and the Chester ‘keeper wasn’t unduly troubled to keep it out.
Chester continued to probe for a weakness that didn’t manifest itself and another aerial, from Giles Hampson
this time, was completely missed by a defender, but, sadly, also by Capper behind him, when he’d have had a clear run in on goal. A Minute later Josh Brooker
did well to win the ball in midfield and sent Felipe Davis-Guzman
on a forward run into the circle where he won a short corner courtesy of a defender’s foot. Capper’s drag-flick proved too hot for the ‘keeper to handle, as it went in off his body to put Formby in front.
Formby continued to frustrate any scoring intentions their visitors may have had, with Brooker making a fine tackle in the left defensive corner, before a Sam Mackarell
interception and run saw him feed on to Davis-Guzman, whose circle entry was frustrated at the cost of a long corner, which came to nothing.
Chester did eventually achieve some penetration of the Formby defence, forcing a penalty corner after they were too easily allowed access to the right side of the Formby circle. This was dealt with capably by the Formby defenders, a long corner resulting, from which the ball was fired in from well outside the circle, where it glanced off Sam Birtles
’s left upright to safety.
Formby worked their way up the pitch and the pall was played into the right corner, where Birtles did well to win it. He found Mackarell advancing to his left and delivered him the ball. Mackarell got a shot away that was on target, but the ‘keeper appeared to have it covered until Davis-Guzman got a touch to divert it well out of his reach and into the goal.
Formby continued to have the upper hand in most activity, but there was a momentary stumble when Brooker completely missed a regulation aerial, and was grateful for Mackarell’s back-up to secure the loose ball. A lapse in his usual passing accuracy from Miles then presented the ball to his opponents in a dangerous position, but Birtles saved well with his left kicker.
Formby failed to clear properly, and when Tinker attempted an off-balance tackle, it was always likely he’s contact stick rather than ball, and Chester duly had another penalty corner. Birtles’s right foot blocked the flick this time, but he lifted the ball and a re-award resulted. This time he avoided dangerous lifting by saving with his right glove, and this time Formby picked the ball up and launched a quick attack down the right wing, as Hampson and Miles put Davis-Guzman in the clear. With 3 men advancing on the Chester goal and only a couple of defenders present, Formby should really have increased their lead, but the cross to Sean Friday
near the penalty spot was too close to the only defender, who managed to clear.
A James Long
interception saw him play Friday into the circle, but he failed to survive a defensive tackle. Formby persisted and Miles and Birtles conspired to pinch the ball from a defender just outside the Chester 22 and Birtles’s advance into the circle produced a penalty corner off a foot. Capper’s first attempt was blocked by the first runner’s shin, so he had another go, which was also blocked and the ball spun the wrong way for Formby, allowing the visitors to break quickly on their right. Sam Birtles
was awake, though and managed to get out to block, delivering the ball to Tinker, who quickly found Miles, who, in turn, found Davis-Guzman, whose progress was rudely interrupted by a foul in the 22. Miles took it quickly, firing the ball forward to Friday, whose neat deflection made it 3-0.
A period of midfield exchanges of possession followed, which culminated in another Chester penalty corner as Brooker couldn’t avoid foot contact with a cross from the right. The Formby runners were quickly out to block and Hampson completed the clearance. As the half drew to a close, the Chester defence missed another Capper aerial, allowing Birtles to get to the circle, but his attempted cross to Davis-Guzman didn’t reach its intended target.
Formby started the second period well and in the opening minute Miles put Capper through but his approach along the left baseline ran into a solid tackle and the ball was cleared. Formby persisted and A Hampson pass to Miles gave him a shooting chance, but although he got a good strike on his reverse-stick shot from the left side, it flew harmlessly across the face of goal at an altitude that wouldn’t have beaten the crossbar anyway.
After their first half efforts it was inevitable that the Formby side would have a soft patch as a degree of fatigue inevitably kicked in, and after 9 minutes of fairly even play, Mackarell tidied up in his own circle but then tried an over-ambitious forward run. This was not a conspicuous success as he lost possession on the edged of his circle and was grateful that Sam Birtles
was there to make a solid save.
Mackarell redeemed himself a minute later with a good defensive tackle, but Formby failed to clear properly and when the ball came back in there was a clear obstruction on a man manoeuvring into a shooting position and a penalty corner was awarded. Chester eschewed the direct approach in favour a slip to their left. Birtles saved easily but his defenders failed to clear properly and conceded another corner. In the process Tinker popped out his shoulder and although it went straight back in unaided, it was pretty sore and he wasn’t able to contribute further to the game.Sam Birtles
’s right boot dealt comprehensively with any idea Chester had of scoring on this occasion. Unfortunately, Formby didn’t defend the resulting long corner very efficiently and conceded yet another penalty corner. Josh Birtles got there first, but the ball struck his shinpad and the corner was re-awarded. This time Chester didn’t get a particularly great effort on goal, but Josh Birtles’s attempt to deal with it only succeeded in deflecting the ball past his brother to give Chester a toehold ad 3-1.
With 20 minutes left and Formby tiring, with only one available substitute, alarm bell were at least warming up, but the side put its collective shoulder to the wheel and tightened up its defensive work. Mike Davis made a fine run down the right wing and got the ball forward to Davis-Guzman, but his cross failed to find a friendly stick.
With 10 minutes to go Formby were unlucky not to restore their 3-goal advantage when a Miles bullet from the top of the circle struck the right post solidly and didn’t rebound to a Formby stick. Then a Long tackle appeared to have defused a visiting incursion, but the ball ran free into the Formby circle and another short corner was conceded. This was slipped to the Chester left again, but Hampson was having nothing of that and blocked it away for a long corner.
Formby cleared this and Miles played a precise long ball forward into the Chester circle, where the first thing it met was a dozy defender’s foot. The penalty corner came at the wrong moment, as Capper was taking a breather. Birtles and Miles exchanged passes but the former’s effort on goal was blocked.
A minor altercation, born of a misunderstanding, resulted in the game’s only card – a green for Davis, but Formby won the ball and Davis-Guzman’s dribbling skills were too much for the defence as he won a penalty corner which went a long was to playing off the suspension. Formby tried something similar to their previous routine, but all that resulted was prolonged melee in the goalmouth in the course of which Chester scrambled the ball away to touch.
Formby had another chance to score with 5 minutes left as Miles got Capper in along the right baseline, but the defence managed to scramble the ball away again. A miscontrol by Tom Hickson
(who had covered vast tracts of the pitch in his side’s cause, and was entitled to feel a little weary at this point) on the right touchline saw Chester advancing on goal, and stopped only at the cost of another penalty corner, but this was deflected over the bar by a Chester man, and Formby managed to play out the remaining seconds without undue alarms.