Gritty 2-0 Win for the Mongooses
By Chris Ralphs
Mongooses 2 - 0 Guildford Men's Cavaliers
It was a warm-up normally reserved for our trips to the other side of Croydon: 20mins after the meet-up time there were three of us on the pitch and Teamo and Whatsapp were both alive with traffic warnings and tips on how to avoid the biggest queues due to roadworks, accidents, etc.
Despite the brief and ineffective warm-up, we managed to dominate early with a lot of careful passing and possession, while we eased ourselves into the game. The oppo on the other hand were keen to get things moving faster, but struggling a little as they were clearly used to being able to thread the ball through on attack to their numerous, dangerous colts. We were shutting them down at every avenue: structured defence of their every hit-out, some tenacious hassling from our midfield (plus Ciaran + Greg G), who caught their defence and midfield napping several times.... Brad, Gregor and I hassled and battled well, forcing some slightly speculative through-balls, but the main plaudits need to go to our defence who were shutting them down at every avenue – Simon in particular seemed to intercept the through-ball every time it looked like they might be trying to accelerate an attack. His performance in the first 20-30 minutes was so comprehensive and so effectively shut down their every attack that it unanimously won him the man of the match vote.
Adam and Jon quickly warmed to having a more dynamic and mobile centre back like Simon compared to their usual incumbent (me) and were able to roam up and down the wings to good effect throughout, so the attacks were structured and frequent.
We create a lot of chances and despite having Rich Murray and Reevesy at centre forward - two usually clinical finishers and a steady stream of fresh legs on the wings, were only able to convert two of the chances – one from Reevesy and a short corner from Mike Q.
The match was clearly at a slightly higher pace than we were used to and it started to show as the game wore on, with Guildford starting to find a few gaps towards the end of the first half, which gave them hope for the second half.
James had arrived for the second half and gave us some much needed respite in the midfield. I think the way the oppo were standing off him and the spread-out structure that the Mongooses general play had him teetering with pangs of agoraphobia, but he adapted and acquitted himself well and the rest for our midfield was massively appreciated – it could have been a very different result were it not for that support.
The second half – as noted by Gregor’s run-tracker – included a LOT more running... quite perversely the most of it in the last 10-15mins as we were repeatedly stretched from one end of the pitch to the other, with Stu being regularly called on to sweep up when the defence was over-stretched... honourable mention in terms of MoM performances goes to Fynn who dealt with several significant barrages of strikes at a critical time when Guildford were in the ascendancy and conceding a goal would really have given them the incentive to push even harder for a draw or even a win!
Certainly not our most favourable scoreline, but definitely our most stretching run-out and a well-earned win against a decent and capable opposition.