Our first game back for 2012 and our first game in 10 weeks had the Hotspurs squad eagerly awaiting kick off. The match was delayed for 15 minutes when the pitch had to be realigned – not sure who did the initial marking of the pitch – but stick to the day job would be my recommendation
A few late pull outs meant the gaffer made a few BOLD decisions with his selection lineup with Esad, Aran Buckley and Ali R all starting on the bench. Nick Dimitriou was handed a surprise debut for at right back but was solid throughout and was unlucky to be subbed at half time.. Stephen McMahon who was also making his debut had a solid game breaking up attacks with crunching tackles and spreading the ball well.
Losing the toss didn’t help as there was a vicious cross breeze and we all knew that we were in for a tough first half. Nippon came straight out of the blocks and had Hotspurs on the back foot with some great movement and 1 touch football but our defense stood strong. Hotspurs players were growing frustrated with the conditions and not being able to get the ball down and play but we knew we had to just weather the storm.
Hotspurs then started to control the game with neat passing and had a few chances with both Jason and Jamie testing the keeper. Bryan N was also causing problems on the left with his pace but couldn’t find that final ball..
The break through came 30 mins into the first half with a well won header by Jason in the middle of the park collected by Marko who fed Jamie in on the right and he finished with a fantastic top corner strike.. 1-0 Hotspurs..
The plan now was to hold onto the lead until half time and then we knew we could create more chances in the second half with the breeze behind us. However Nippon replied within 5 mins of going behind. Well worked down there right side and cut back for there centre back to slot home a well taken goal – poor defending as a whole by Hotspurs..1-1
Nippon then took the lead 5 minutes later when a cross from the right side and aided by a strong breeze caught everyone by surprise and curled into the top corner. 2-1 Nippon.
Half time team talk was to create more of the same chances and we would see this game through. Henry T came off for Esad and Nick D being substituted for Aran Buckley.
As feared the breeze had almost gone at the start of the second half and we had lost this advantage but we were still confident we could get the win..
Hotspurs started well and had 2 chances to grab the equalizer but selfish play / poor finishing kept the score at 2-1.
Nippon were starting to get more involved in the game and there danger man Ota was coming deep and causing problems for Hotspurs with his vision and trickery. Hotspurs were made to pay for poor finishing as Nippon hit them on the counter and went 3-1 up..
Ali R was brought on for Marko and Aaron Jones brought on for Bryan N with 25 mins remaining. With 20 minutes to go Hotspurs started to take more risks in pushing forward and again poor finishing was costing them dearly. Good work down the right from Jamie T and Aran were causing problems for Nippon and finally Hotspurs got the goal they deserved with Ali R “softly” slotting the ball home with 2 minutes to spare. 3-2 Nippon
Could a comeback be on??
Straight from the kick off a exceptional ball from Ota found their right winger who brilliantly took the ball down and past our last defender and buried the ball into the far corner.. 4-2 Nippon
Hotspurs will now look to bounce back this weekend in the Cup against Red Rock - a MASSIVE game to get the confidence flowing back within the side..
Thanks to Nippon for a well spirited game and best of luck for the rest of the calendar year..
Nippon MOM – Ota
Hotspurs MOM - Jamie T
Pitch – 3-10 (very poor pitch and we were asked if we wanted to call the game off but we decided to play)