The first game of the season kicked off on Sunday for the reserves with the Adelaide Cup against Cowplain Reserves at the King George Playing Fields in Cosham. This was the first time the reserves had been playing together in a competitive match, with Oz captain and a mixture of reserves and first team players due to so many people being away.
The game started briskly with everyone trying to find their feet and get used to each other but importantly everyone getting stuck in. Only after a few seconds of the game starting Ryan swept the ball forward for John Allery to latch onto and fire a shot at goal, saved by the keeper and then with Johnís second attempt the rebound fired high over the bar. Cowplain rallied and began to the pitch by passing and moving leaving Whiteley chasing shadows for 10 minutes.
Within this time, the defence held firm with good challenges and clearances, Leroy being his tenacious self. But then following an attack by Cowplain, the ball was played around on the edge of the Whiteley box, and was passed to a man in space who hit a speculative shot from almost 35 yards, with both Jon and Dan thinking the ball was going wide when it drifted into the net. Cowplain 1 up.
Whiteley dug in, with excellent work in midfield, with Simon W and Kevin T putting in challenges and winning the ball. It was unfortunate when Simon picked up an injury and had to go off to be replaced by Mike. Half time arrived with the score 1-0.
The second half started as quickly as the first, with Cowplain coming at Whiteley but the defending was resolute, Dan pulling off some brilliant saves keeping the score down. After 10 minutes, Jon went off feeling the strain of recent illness to be replaced by Dave H, meaning a change around of formation with Damo dropping into defence.
The game continued, Whiteley chasing the ball but not getting the final pass to the forwards. There were a couple of moments where Whiteley should have scored with Niall hitting the keeper, but it was becoming a bit late.
Tony came on replacing Ryan who picked up an injury and again the formation had to be changed. Niall dropped back into midfield, and Tony pushed up front, with Damo moving forward and Dave dropping back. However with all the changes, Whiteley could still not make an impression - until Tony being forceful and aggressive put challenges in, got the ball and ran forward getting past players and putting the ball into the box, with no-one able to pick up on it.
Almost immediately the response from Cowplain was for another speculative shot from distance this time at the right height and pace to beat a diving Dan. 2-0 to Cowplain. Whiteley continued to challenge and win the ball, but the passing of Cowplain, being on a high was beginning to see the Reserves chasing shadows once more. The final whistle arrived with Whiteley beaten 2-0.
Taking heart from this, individual performances were good although we need to work as a team. Where we lacked was passing. If we had passed better and used players moving, we would have quite easily matched Cowplain. Overall, the reserves played well. Man of the Match is a tough choice, with players all contending such as Simon W, John A and Kev in the middle, however on this occasion, Dan gets the award for some excellent goal work. Well done Dan!