Breaking Point Reached
By Kim Miles
Formby’s injury toll finally caught up with them as they only managed to field a bare 11 men (and boys!) for the visit of Timperley.
The eleven had much the better of the opening 20 minutes, from the moment Timperley’s first pass missed its mark and went straight into touch. A long forward ball from Josh Birtles was deflected for a long corner, following which Ste Wright
had the chance to beat his man on the edge of the circle, but was foiled by a well-timed tackle.Giles Hampson
then found Harry Pike
in the visitors’ 22, and his progress was stopped by a foul, but Formby couldn’t make anything of the free hit. The game’s first penalty corner arrived after 7 minutes when Birtles made a good flat-stick tack but failed to convince the officials the ball had made contact with his hand on the stick rather than his body. Timperley’s routing broke down when they failed to stop the injection, but they managed a hasty effort which was deflected away for a long corner, although it seemed Josh Birtles had been obstructed in his efforts to close down the shooter.
The first clear chance from free play also came Timperley’s way as Formby reacted slowly to a free hit on their right, and the ball was crossed to a forward in the clear on the other side of the circle. The marking was so loose that he was able to get asway with an initial near air shot which Sam Birtles
could only push back out. The second effort had to be from a tighter angle and went into the sideboard wide of the right post.Toby Gladwin
managed to steal the ball from a defender in the Timperley circle, but was unlucky to be penalised for his work. Formby pressure produced a misdirected clearance that Will Miles
seized and attacked the circle, and his pass to Harry Pike
let him get in an effort on goal that was deflected away to the left. Mike Davis picked up the loose ball and a melee in the Timperley goalmouth was ended when the umpire detected a Formby misdemeanour.
Formby renewed their pressure and a Gladwin shot was blocked as far as Felipe Davis-Guzman
, who took it back into the circle but when he tried to find Pike, the latter’s effort to control the ball was penalised. A strong run and centre from the right from Hampson just eluded Davis-Guzman’s stick in front of goal, and the defence manged to work the ball clear.
Possibly Formby were guilty of over-pressing, as a long ball down the middle should have been cut out but wasn’t, and Cannel Capper found himself confronted by a pair rapidly-advancing opponents. There was little he could do to stop them that wouldn’t have resulted in a card for him, and he sensibly resisted the temptation to commit a “professional foul”, and the ball was soon in the net.
This was somewhat against the run of play and Formby, through a surging run from Davis, renewed their effort when he found Gladwin picking up the ball even though a defender appeared to have intercepted, but his shot from the right side was just wide right, in the side-netting.
Formby the succumbed to Timperley’s long-ball tactics again, as another speculative forward ball wasn’t dealt with by the defenders, and Sam Birtles
had to make a great stop, only for his brother to be unable to prevent the ball hitting the wrong side of his stick, conceding a penalty corner. This resulted in the second Timperley goal, as the bass, which seemed to be heading wide right, wasn’t dealt with cleanly by Capper, and ended up in the net.
Miles set Davis-Guzman up with a chance to attack the circle but his advance was halted by a tackle that propelled the ball onto his foot. Immediately Timperley increased their lead as a diagonal aerial eliminated all the Formby defenders, and Capper’s full-reach jump, to find a man unmarked on the right, and he found a similarly unmarked colleague at the far post, who failed to miss the open goal.
Formby were still threatening, with a good share of possession, and won a penalty corner inside the final 5 minutes as a Miles pass from the right found Birtles who moved it in to Pike to set up Gladwin, who found a defender’s foot. Unfortunately, the Formby routine lacked its usual venom as they failed to get a shot away, and were nearly caught on the break, breathing a sigh of relief as a cross was deflected away from the goal and Capper was able to tidy up via an opponent’s foot.
The half-time scoreline was flattering to the visitors, as Formby’s technique (in earlier short-handed matches) of taking the lead and thereby giving themselves more to defend hadn’t worked this time (though not for lack of effort). Would fitness levels stand the strain of another 35 minutes?
A great tackle by Capper in a one-on-one situation at the top of his own circle led to his feeding Miles who made a surge into the Timperley half and produced a penetrating ball forward to Gladwin, which he was unlucky not to reach in time.
A couple of minutes later some loose passing between the Formby rearguard culminated in the concession of a short corner of a Miles boot. Timperley attempted to fool the defence with a slip to their left, but Sam Birtles
didn’t fall for it and blocked the shot before pressure was relieved by a Timperley offence. He was in action shortly after this, with another good stop from a long diagonal pass into the circle that found its target with space to shoot.
It was clear that the Formby effort was diminishing as fatigue set in, but they never gave up, and held out until after the three-quarter mark before Hampson couldn’t prevent the forward progress of an opponent in the circle whilst keeping the ball away from his feet. Timperley’s fairly straight, low flick eluded the defenders on the line.
A minute later, a miscontrol by Birtles on the edge of his own circle presented another chance to the visitors and it was 0-5 with 15 minutes left to play. Was this hammer-blow of 2 goals in a minute one that would release an avalanche of goals?
No, the Formby side managed to get its third (or maybe fourth) wind, and even managed some pressure on the Timperley goal in the remaining minutes. A Hampson interception and clearance on the left nearly found Ste Wright
down the middle, but proved to be just out of his reach. Then Sam Birtles
was quickly off his line to close down a breaking forward, who managed to flip the ball over the Formby ‘keeper, only for Josh Birtles to pick the ball out of the air as it neared the goalmouth.
He played it forward to Gladwin and Pike on the right, who did their best to pass their way clear of several defenders in the right attacking corner, but had to give way to numerical superiority in the end. Andy Wright had been making a nuisance of himself to the Timperley defence throughout the match, and a nice dribble along the left baseline with 3 minutes left was halted at the expense of a long corner. Formby were too quick for the defenders as they got the ball back into play and were forced into conceding a short corner.
Capper’s strong drag-flick was blocked, and Timperley threatened a quick break against a Formby defence severely short of bodies, but a solid flat-stick tackle form Birtles won the ball back, and Formby survived the last seconds without further alarms.
Fortunatley, the 2nd XI’s win secured their League title, so there will be no need to avoid damaging their title hopes by promoting their best players to the 1st XI for the season’s last 2 games. This is a very good thing, as since the game, the injury gremlin has interfered once more, as Toby Gladwin
has suffered a fractured finger. This has certainly been a 1st team season to forget on the injury front!