Just Reward for a Solid Performance
By Kim Miles
In contrast to the earlier meeting between the sides, Formby had a full complement 1st XI players available and they demonstrated their superiority despite going behind very unluckily.
The match started well as in the first minute, a Connel Capper
aerial appeared to have picked out Ste Wright
in the visitors’ circle, having eluded a couple of groping raised sticks wielded ineffectually by defenders. Having scored the previous week from a similar situation (on the other side of the circle), this seemed promising until his efforts to bring the ball under control was equally ineffective and it passed harmlessly over the line for a 16.
Shortly after this a quick free hit from Josh Birtles saw him take the ball to the right before giving it to Matthew Williams
(on his home 1st XI league debut), who worked himself across the circle right to left before engineering himself space for a reverse-stick shot, but he missed the goal to the left.
This satisfactory start nearly had a severe glitch when a visiting forward appeared to have completely evaded the attention of the entire defensive unit, appearing with the ball in acres of space on the right side, he got into the circle but then seemed to suffer a sever case of stage-fright, as his attempt at a shot met only thin air. The absence of nearby defenders meant that he could have a second go as there wasn’t anyone to be endangered by the whirling stick, but by now, the ball had run to a more difficult angle, and, though he made much better contact this time, the ball passed swiftly across the face of goal and wide of Sam Birtles
’s right post.
Formby resume their pressure on the Whitley Bay defence with a Birtles interception of a clearance around half-way. He made ground before passing to Felipe Davis-Guzman
who dropped it back to Will Miles
, who produced a sublime through ball to Wright, in the circle, but his shot was straight at the ‘keeper.
Capper produced a good tackle after a long forward pass was allowed into the Formby circle far too easily. The ball was played left to Tom Gooding who took it to the Whitley Bay circle and found Davis-Guzman in front, but his deflection was somewhat fortunately saved when it struck the ‘keeper full in the faceguard.
Three minutes after this, Formby went behind, when Birtles tried to intercept a long aerial down the middle at full stretch. All he succeeded in doing was taking the pace off the ball for an advancing opponent, and when Sam Birtles
was wrong-footed by the deflection and slipped and fell, the beneficiary from the North-East managed to suppress his excitement and executed the simple task of tapping the ball into the unguarded net.
Formby shrugged this off as Gooding and Toby Gladwin
(another 1st XI league debutant) combined well before the latter’s pull-back in the circle was intercepted at full stretch. The sides then exchanged turnovers for a while without any chances appearing, until Miles caught a defender in possession as Whitley Bay attempted to transfer the ball round the back. He set off to his right, leaving a couple of defenders standing, before straightening his run in the circle and delivering the ball to Birtles right in front, who gave the ‘keeper no hope with a clean finish from around the penalty spot.
The last 15 minutes of the half saw little play in the Formby half, but few chances created by the home side, though A perceptive pass from Capper to Gladwin looked promising until his pass to Hickson fell victim to a poor first touch.
The second half started with Sam Birtles
having to time his challenge in his circle well to dive and clear after a speculative pass down the visitors’ left wing evaded too many Formby players for comfort. A minute later the game’s first short corner went to the visitors as another long pass into the Formby circle was deflected up off a Formby stick and taken on the leg by a defender. The Formby captain was quickly out to deflect the drag-flick wide of goal.
A quick Capper aerial down the left after a Whitley Bay foot in the Formby 22 evaded all defenders again, but Ste Wright
was unable to reach it either. It didn’t matter, as a minute later, a Hickson through ball found Miles , who beat a man on the edge of the circle, before being pushed ion the back by another defender, and Formby had its first penalty corner. Capper celebrated with a powerful drag-flick that beat the ‘keeper low to the left.
It was no more than Formby deserved, and they went on to produce a fine passing move, involving Gladwin, Miles, Mike Davis, Hickson and Davis again, whose progress in the circle produced a block for a long corner. Capper then adjusted his aerial target and found Hickson on the right, and his control was good as he put the ball into the line of Davis-Guzman’s run in the circle, and a stick tackle produced another penalty corner. This time Capper failed to miss the ‘keeper, and Miles was tripped as he went to retrieve the ball towards the right touchline. Fortunately, he wasn’t badly hurt, but unfortunately, the umpires hadn’t seen the incident clearly, so it passed unpunished, as Hampson’s effort on goal was touched away for a long corner.
Miles soon demonstrated he hadn’t suffered any ill-effects by setting up Davis on the left, but his shot from a tight angle was into the side-netting. Capper then found Miles at the top of the circle and he continued his torment of the defence as he changed direction and found a defender’s foot for another penalty corner. This proved unproductive as Capper and Birtles tried to exchange passes but the former’s effort on goal was deflect away to the right off a stick.
An impressive long-distance dribble by Birtles came to nothing when he elected to shoot from a tight angle on the left, when it may have proved more productive to try to find Andy Wright who was well-positioned in front of goal, in space. Hampson then put in a tackle in his 22 which incurred the wrath of the officials to the extent of a penalty corner and a green card, for his troubles. The visitors tried a series of passes in the hope of working a shooting chance, but the Formby defenders covered them well and the eventual effort was blocked sufficiently for Sam Birtles
to boot the bouncing ball clear over everyone’s heads.
Hampson was soon back on the pitch and in the action, receiving a pass from Miles and exchanging passes with Davis-Guzman, before attacking the circle and having his attempted cross blocked by a defender’s foot for a penalty corner. Capper put his previous rehearsals to good use by finding the bottom left corner of the goal to double Formby’s lead and make the final 9 minutes less stressful for the home spectators.
Whitley Bay didn’t surrender, however, and Hampson had to defuse an aerial before transferring the ball to Davis to complete the clearance. Hampson and Birtles then both tried to tackle the same man at the same time in the Formby circle and conceded a late short corner, but their opponents didn’t take advantage, going for a deflection on the right side, but missing their target and the goal to that side.
Capper then targeted Ste Wright
with another testing aerial, which he did control well….. but straight onto his foot! No matter, Hampson soon found Gooding on the left, whose diagonal pass found Ste Wright
on the other side with the defence stretched. He managed to play a one-two off a defender’s stick and got in a shot which the ‘keeper couldn’t control, conceding a penalty corner when it lifted off his pads. He made up for it with a good, diving save to Capper’s drag-flick.
A last throw of the dice for the visitors, courtesy of some slack defending, saw Sam Birtles
well-positioned to make a close-range block and Formby avoided further alarms as time expired on their 3-1 win, which moves them into 6th place in the NHML.