UYAFC Firsts 3
UYAFC Seconds 3
Saturday 10th October 2009
It has been a long summer for the footballers of UYAFC and the excitement, fuelled by genuine optimism, was clear to see as the firsts and the seconds met on the 22 Acres in an entertaining pre-season run-out. However, the manner in which the seconds grabbed a late equaliser would have sent the two sides off the pitch with contrasting emotions.
Seconds Captain Ben Smith was calling for the title in a rousing post-match team-talk after Conor Brennan volleyed in to make it 3-3 in arguably the game’s best move. The first Team were understandably disappointed, leaving Captain Mark Mcleod to pick out the positives in a game he’ll feel they should have won.
The truth is he can be encouraged by his side’s performance – the midfield trio looked very solid, Mcleod himself was stroking the ball around well and Mark Johnson, playing slightly more advanced in the three of himself, Mcleod and Nav Jarbarkhil, was getting into great areas if only to disappoint slightly with the end product.
Action from the UYAFC Trial match on Saturday afternoon. Photograph by George Lowther.
Needless to say, that is the sort of thing to be expected in the first 90 minutes of a season. In a defensive three of Jack Crane, Greg Gardner and Chris Grayland they looked solid, but there is room wide of the three and, perhaps worryingly, two of the goals scored by the seconds came from wider areas. It could be something to look out for for the Captain but may just require a bit of getting used to. As i don’t want to end the paragraph with another “needless to say..” i’ll give an honourable mention to the front two, who had excellent games. Ian McKellow, despite not scoring, looked sharp, assured and, most importantly dangerous every time he had the ball. Joe Cooper, his strike partner, struck a hat-trick and looks to be a real right-place-right-time kind of striker which is a very valuable thing to have.
The seconds will be the happier of the two sides though, and the manner in which they earned the draw will delight Ben Smith. A lot of sides after going 2-0 down would have gone on to lose by three or four, but to earn the draw demonstrates a lot of character from Ben’s side. They bounced back to 2-2 after goals from Ben Smith and Miles McDermott, who finished coolly from a ball over the top. Then, after going 3-2 down, equalised late on through Conor Brennan.
Brennan, who deservedly got his goal, was a stand-out performer in a solid seconds attack. Against good defenders he was threatening, and possesses not only pace but a brilliant first touch. It remains to be seen whether he’s going to stake a claim for a first team spot; on this form he looks capable.
UYAFC firsts and seconds fought out a 3-3 draw on Saturday afternoon. Photograph by George Lowther.
I think my thoughts were always going to be positive after this game, I’m a believer that in sport you should try to take the positives out of everything. And the phrases ‘only a warm-up game’ or ‘just a run-out’ have always been at the front of my mind when I reflected on the game. Nevertheless the encouraging signs are not misguided, particularly for the seconds, and men’s football looks set to have a successful year.
I chatted to Peter Renton who has been brought in to assist Mark Mcleod as firsts captain with the coaching side of things. He has worked for the Football Association and Leeds Utd FC Academy. “For the first run-out,” he said, “surprisingly i’ve been very impressed. There are areas for improvement but getting match-fit is the important thing at this stage.”
I stood with him for a bit, his eyes would perk up at the touches of Conor Brennan up front and he’d occasionally mumble “move it quicker”, but he was taking things in as much as me. At the end of the game Ben Smith told his men “its going to be very difficult for anyone to break into this team”.
A rallying cry to freshers perhaps, or more likely a sound observation, that in that group of players, the seconds have got a genuine league challenge on their hands. With the assistance of Renton the firsts can really achieve something this season as well, he struck me as a real ‘football person’, who was approachable, knowledgeable and keen. And he has a right to be keen, even if it was ‘only the warm up’.