My last competitive football match came some time in May 2014, well over 2 years ago. Since then I’ve appeared in a couple of friendly matches and played some small-sided games, but nothing “official”
Today finally saw an end to that, with a long awaited return to the pitch for my new Sunday league side Northcroft, named after a social club that just happens to be a stone’s throw from my front door.
The Treadfirst Sudbury and Haverhill Sunday Football League covers, as you could probably guess from it’s name, teams across this part of Suffolk, primarily based around the towns of Sudbury and Haverhill. Today’s match was away in Haverhill, about as far away as we will travel this season, to take on FC Bar Vu Reserves.
Being new to the league I don’t know who’s going to be good, who we’ll turnover or even how good our own players were, but I was quietly confident going into this one.
The pitch was on a huge open playing field, up a bank and very exposed to the wind, which would prove a major player throughout the match. The surface, though fairly hard, was of a high standard with the well cut grass almost being ideal for football, something you don’t always find at this level.
We dominated the first half and were 4-0 up by half time. I had little to due during this period, mainly collecting over hit through balls and taking goal kicks. Unfortunately, my kicking was letting me down, although distance was not an issue I was struggling with accuracy, particularly when kicking from my hands. The wind was blowing strongly from behind me and often carrying them right through the opposition goalkeeper.
That said, I did manage one “semi assist”, with one of my kicks deflecting off a defender before releasing our striker through the middle who coolly slotted home.
Having been out of the game for so long, my confidence was also fairly low and I was reluctant to come flying through crowds of players to collect balls that I probably should have done, but going in at half time with a clean sheet, I was happy enough.
The second half I attempted to rectify what I felt were my weaknesses from the first. With the wind blowing strongly against us now I stopped kicking from my hands and always looked for the short option or kicked from the floor, something which definitely helped and that I was pleased with the outcome of.
I’m not sure whether it was over confidence or an underestimation of the weather, but less than a minute into the half we had conceded. I was a little disappointed with this one as I failed to push a hard low shot far enough away from the goal, giving the striker the chance to tap in from the rebound to set up an interesting 45 minutes.
We did restore the margin though shortly after, making it 5-1 and although I spent much of the half dealing with the wind, we were fairly comfortable at the back. Aside from maybe one or two low saves, the half for me was again dominated by the collecting of long balls and controlling the defence.
A penalty was given against us mid-way through the second half and unfortunately I have still yet to save one in a competitive game. Going the right way, I momentarily thought I had a chance, but it was so well hit into the side netting that I was never getting anywhere near it.
The game finished 5-2, a comfortable victory and hopefully a sign of things to come.
In terms of my own performance, I was fairly happy. I recognised my faults from the first half and tried (successfully I think) to put these right in the second period. I wasn’t overly busy and I could’ve done better for the first goal, but other than that I just need to build my confidence when coming for the ball and work on the accuracy of my kicks.
Looking forward to the next game now, bring it on!