Match Reports for MA Scholarship Team
Match Report 3:
MA v EF Brafa FC
The Sheffield FC chief executives travelled over to Spain especially for the final game of the tour. After travelling for hours on the local train network they arrived at Barca and checked their luggage into the executive store under the coach in preparation for the Espanyol game.
After a thoroughly entertaining La Liga game the group stopped in the Olympic village for their pre-match meal. The Head Coach went in search for the now traditional meat dish prior to the game. After the meal the group headed over to the EF Brafa stadium for the final chapter of the 2017 football tour. One game stood between the scholars and a 100% winning record on foreign soil. Let's hope they have something left in the tank for this final battle.
The management team set the team up to compete in all areas of the pitch. The stakes were high and they were leaving nothing to chance. There were difficult decisions to be made in light of the knocks and sprains that certain players had sustained over the last 48 hours. However, they were confident that they had tailored a side to unlock this highly regarded Spanish outfit.
The match started at a rapid pace but the Maltby team appeared focused and in control. Within the first ten minutes they had created and spurned four clear cut chances. However, things were looking positive given the number of opportunities to take the lead in this opening exchange. The break through came on 20 minutes when Josh Simpson made a surging run down the left flank and after a neat interchange with Dylan Somerville slotted the ball under the Spanish keeper.
The Maltby eleven continued to look dangerous with every attack. It was clear that the Spanish team were not used to playing against opposition that were able to break with speed and spin in behind their back line. The Maltby front players appeared to create havoc with every attack.
Against the run of play EF Brafa equalised with a fine strike after the Maltby defence failed to clear the ball on the edge of the box. This goal led to a resurgent Brafa team for 10 minutes but they failed to capitalise on this possession and never troubled the Maltby keeper again in the first half. As Maltby started to take the initiative and build some momentum Michael Flather broke away and was pulled down in the penalty area. He immediately got to his feet and grabbed the ball whilst looking over to the bench for instructions. The gaffer gave him the nod to take the resulting penalty. He stepped up confidently and drilled his penalty inches wide of the left post. Other chances were to come and go and it looked increasingly likely that the two sides would go into half time on equal terms. In the closing moments of the first half there was an intricate interplay between Michael Flather and Sam Kay before the ball was moved wide to Jordan Wooton. He delivered an inch perfect cross to Sol Williams on the edge of the box who struck a neat finish in the bottom corner. Maltby took a much deserved lead and should now be in the driving seat going into the second half.
At half time the opponents sent out their substitutes to warm up and they looked a very different proposition. Sure enough these new additions resulted in an intense period of power play from Brafa. However, the Maltby team held firm and managed to soak up everything thrown at them. The back four were immense throughout this period and Ryan Pearce was a giant amongst men. Following shouts of approval from the bench Ryan tapped his back pocket to indicate how comfortable he was managing his opponent.
As the second half progressed the Maltby eleven appeared to grow stronger and it was the familiar through ball into the channel that provided the next breakthrough. A perfectly measured pass into the corner was met by the powerful free running centre forward Jordan Wooton. He quickly adjusted and got his foot around the ball to guide it perfectly over the keeper. This goal made it three in three for Wooton and secured the accolade of tour leading goal scorer. In the dying moments Josh Simpson weaved his magic and mesmerised the defenders with his quick feet providing an inch perfect cross for Josh Carpenter to dispatch.
This final game turned out to be a convincing victory and was the perfect end to a memorable tour.
The report cannot finish without a reference to match official. The referee appeared at times to run with a slight limp which was the cause of some amusement but he was certainly not afraid to brandish the yellow card. Unfortunately he only appeared to be able to spell the English surnames.
Match Report 2:
MA v Viladecavalls
Following the exploits of the previous day the Maltby braves entered battle on day two with confidence riding high. The management team had undertaken their due diligence on today's opponents and picked a team with the qualities to exploit their weaknesses. Maltby packed the midfield with energy and pace and set up with two solid banks of four building from the back. Strong compact shape without the ball combined with the discipline to break quickly were the orders of the day.
The boys stepped into the arena with the gaffers instructions still ringing in their ears. Shape, discipline, patience!!!! The game kicked off and the opening 10 minutes were a cagey affair with both teams working hard to keep the ball and impose themselves on the game. Whilst the start was not rich in quality the tacticians amongst us were in our elements. A traditional 4-4-2 was adopted by the Maltby group with each team member clear about their role and responsibilities.
After 20 minutes the Maltby 'tinker men' that are Higgins and Breckin recognised that tweaks were needed and Brooks was moved to his more familiar full back slot with Eagle pushed high and wide on the left. When the break through eventually came it was a moment of pure quality. The move started with the ever dependable Carter feeding the ball out to Rose in the centre of the defence. Rose in true 'Hansen-esque' fashion slotted the ball through to Bartholemew who laid it back into Kay first time and spun away. This was a move lifted straight off the training ground and clearly pleased the gaffer. Kay looked up and slid the ball through to Hague in the last third of the pitch and he finished with aplomb. For the first time in the game the simple fluent passing game long associated with Maltby teams unlocked the Spanish defence. When Hague found himself running through at pace one on one with the advancing keeper he kept his head and chipped it in with his left foot. There was an audible gasp from his team mates as the ball dropped into the net. In the dugout Flather could be heard commenting on why that left foot had never been used before. Playing on foreign soil can certainly bring the best out of players.
The teams were evenly matched for the reminder of the first half and clear cut chances were few and far between. The formidable Maltby management duo were relieved to get the lads in at half time to reset the shape and push on again in the second period. The changes were limited at half time with a keeper swap and Williams dropping into central midfield and Bartholomew moved into the back four.
The second half continued to be a highly competitive affair with both teams working hard to keep possession. The match official allowed the game to flow and even accepted that there may be some physical contact in this beautiful game. This supported free flowing football and allowed Maltby to impose themselves as the game progressed. As the game moved into the last 20 minutes the highly competitive Williams managed to win possession on the edge of the opponents box and fed the ball through to Wooton to finish with confidence. It was particularly pleasing to see the two second half substitutes combine in the latter stages to close the game down. Wooton has now scored two in two and is the tour leading goal scorer.
As the backroom staff were starting to flag Coach Stanhope appeared with a much needed caffeine boost. Again the timing was impeccable and lifted the team at a crucial time.
In the closing stages the opposition capitalised on a misplaced pass on the half way line and secured a break away goal. However, the Maltby players stepped up in the last five minutes to see the game out. The more experienced Y13 players in the squad provided the cool heads and played into the corners to close the game down.
A hard fought battle provided another stern test for the Maltby Warriors. However, the team came through and secured two victories in two days.
More to follow tomorrow as the team move onto game three.
Match Report vs CE Bufala
As the coach approached this compact stadium for the opening encounter there was a sense of uncertainty amongst the group. How would this team of young players fare on such a big stage. This talented group of athletes had no idea what was to unfold over the next two hours.
The teams lined up and completed the traditional pleasantries. This beautiful game provided a common language for these two proud nations. From the first whistle the gravity of the task was clear to all. The opposition were well organised, technically gifted and highly charged for this encounter.
Maltby stood firm and the players focused on winning their own individual battles in the opening exchanges. Tackles flew, tempers flared and players started to engage in their individual duals. The MA shape and structure held strong and their dominance started to show. The official proved to be a thorn in the Maltby side and failed to realise that this was a physical game in which physical contact was allowed.
After a stop, start opening Maltby were awarded a free kick 10 yards into the opposition half. The centre halves were ordered forward and the high defensive line provided the opportunity for Danny Rose to plant a powerful header beyond the goalkeeper for the opening goal. The relentless focus on shape and form from the Maltby back room staff started to pay dividends. The runs into the channels continued to present opportunities and it was no surprise when first Josh Simpson and then Jordan Wootton finished well worked moves. Approaching 40 minutes and the game should be over at 3-0.
At half time the Maltby eleven changed completely but the shape and approach remained constant. The game continued to go from end to end and the opposition presented a number of sporadic challenges. However, early in the second half an interchange from the Maltby keeper and centre half presented a break away chance for the lone Maltby striker. Dylan Somerville found himself 20 yards out from goal with the keeper charging off his line. Without a thought he struck a first time volley that soared over the head of the keeper and rippled in the roof of the net. Instinctive, decisive, exquisite. What a way to open the second half.
Any nerves were a distant memory and the Maltby eleven were increasingly comfortable in possession. Unfortunately, another side of the game started to cause an issue in the last third. Maltby were not prepared for the off the ball tricks and touches. The constants stream of nips, nudges and scrapes started to distract the team. Yellow cards started to flow and the referee started to lose control. However, as tempers started to boil over the Maltby eleven stood strong. It was no surprise when Maltby were awarded a penalty kick in the last 20 minutes and the team sent Callum Barber forwards to dispatch the kick. Whilst this was not part of the coaches meticulous planning there was no arguing with the comprehensive finish.
In the last ten minutes the game became more unpleasant and the dark side started to dominate. In an attempt to appease the vociferous crowd the official ordered a Maltby player to the stands and awarded the opposition a penalty. However, nothing could detract from the achievements of this Maltby group on this highly charged evening. For the scholars to drive into the back yard of this Spanish giant and teach them a footballing lesson bodes well for the remainder of the tour.
Early success for MA scholars on tour. Barcelona 2017. View the photos here.