Welkommen til alle vare fans i Bergen.
Also, welcome to our fans in Singapore, Scotland and now, Spain!
Coach Manning always said that this was going to be an ‘interesting’ game and based on the earlier results that the Hammers have achieved, would be tough for the Rangers.
Historically, Woodley Hammers have been one of the leading Clubs in Berkshire and have always fielded strong teams. Today was no exception and in the chilly Autumn sunshine with the geese still flying South for the winter (different geese to a couple of weeks ago obviously), the perfect ‘V’ formation in the air was being bettered by the passing triangles created by the Rangers,
Right from the kick-off, the Rangers played the ball back through the team, retained possession and moved the ball to feet down the right hand side of the pitch to culminate in a shot on goal. The passing and movement throughout this game was of a standard that was an indication that the training session drills on a Tuesday night are now coming into play.
The first half was a close run affair with numerous attacks by the Rangers being well defended by the Hammers. On three occasions, the Rangers managed to get clear shots on goal, only for the ball to miss the far post by less than 30cm (around a foot for those in the UK, but I am writing this for an international audience too you know)….agonising, frustrating, yet somehow fair, given the fact that the Rangers ability to contain the Hammers on the break was almost non-existent.
At this point it is appropriate to mention Liam, ultimately the man of the match, who consistently managed to disrupt the Hammers attacking moves almost single-handedly and provide much-needed cover for the Rangers defence. This was a man of the match performance hewn from stern stuff, with bravery in defence (getting a knock on the head for his efforts), skilful attacking play and some very nicely taken corners…..but more of that later.
The first half was also pleasing in that J’ziah performed to an even higher level than his MOTM performance last week, with sensible, controlled ‘keeping, and some swift and decisive kicks to the forwards.
The defence and midfield, comprising an injured Ash (medical treatment at half time, but luckily we didn’t have to remove his foot, we just stuck some plasters onto it to hold it on), Ethan (some great passing), Ask, some really mature defending yet again (he kept running throughout the match and must have covered miles/kilometres), Josh (and his cheeky forward runs down the wing), Luke (somewhat quieter than usual but still made some telling tackles and great passes), Joe (by far his best game for the Club with another shot on goal hitting the ‘bar !…), all played well and importantly, played as a team.
This team-play ethic then paid off just before half time, after stringing around 10 passes together, playing the ball from their half to the Hammers half and then winning a corner. Liam stepped up to take it, swung it in at pace and it beat the ‘keeper, 2 defenders and went straight in ! Skillsville. 1-0 at half time.
The second half saw Ben come on and he played a major role in securing more possession, with some thoughtful work in midfield and some good tackling too. The Rangers started to play with some real purpose and J’ziah played a big part in that every time he got the ball, he would look up and kick it over the half way line to the attacking midfield and forwards. Ask was basically bossing the defence covering for an injured and hobbling Ash….great mature play from the young Norwegian signing.
Despite some rather odd offside calls by the assistant ref (5 in a row with Will standing in his own half on each occasion….), it was only a matter of time before Will scored and after a trademark run, leaving the Hammers defence looking like they were wading through treacle, he went past a couple of defenders and beat the keeper with a nicely taken shot….2-0. The team’s third goal came from a beautifully flighted corner from Liam, with Will running onto it and heading it down and into the net….3-0.
The final goal came after a clumsy foul on Will, tripping him up and pulling back his shirt simultaneously. He then took the free kick and bent it like Beckham from a few yards outside the penalty area up and over the wall and dipping just under the bar. Unstoppable. Deliberate. Hat-trick. 4-0. Game over. Pub Time.
One outstanding moment to mention. Liam was up against a very large player from the Hammers and as with the other boys, was just bouncing off him. I am delighted to say that one of our mum’s came out with the classic line “Be strong Liam !”, while he was lying on the ground wondering how he got there. I’m still laughing now. This will be the team’s mantra for the rest of the season.
Match report by Dan Gleballs