Van’shing point!

Walton Casuals Panthers v. Lightning

3 - 7

The Walton match location changed in the week and the new location was not so easy to find let alone park. Once found, the facility was a gem, just two mini-pitches in the local Girl Guide hall grounds.
First to arrive, Tioba (but then he’d had to travel with the manager). The opposition had a team, we only had 6 with 15 minutes to kick-off. And a couple of players were still missing as kick-off approached. We had a new formation to (2-3-1) but the managers plans had to change with regards participants.

Stefanos, George, Louis, Riley,Ned, Joseph, Matthew,Vansh, Tioba start.

Conditions were playable but not perfect following a heavy downpour on Friday night. George, standing in for Stefanos, was not happy with the goalmouth but seemed willing to soldier on (and for longer than he thought).

KO – Stefanos has made it but where’s Vansh…

Our first attack, a solo foray by Tioba, sees his shot saved by keeper. (Comment from the opposition manager – I can see why you brought him along -😊)

As we adjusted to our new formation we were faced with some good attacking play by Walton. They force a corner and in the ensuing melee in our defence, Walton take an early lead. Only 3 minutes in - this could be a long day…

We were defending well and Ned was enjoying some good tackling. Walton pressure continued but we looked reasonably controlled. Quick look at the watch only 5 minutes played. Still 2 minutes without a goal against. Where is Vansh…

Riley made a great interception in his unfamiliar role of left back and strode forward, gliding past the opposition and a perfect to pass to Tioba who scores with a lovely right-footed shot. Still only 6 minutes on the clock and we’re back in the game. Hi Vansh 😊

We were now getting in to our stride and in defence Louis, Riley and Joseph looked masterful, despite Walton’s good passing and continued threat. We were proving we can absorb pressure and play well on the break. Louis put a nice ball through the middle to Joseph who, one on one with the goalkeeper, kept his composure and slotted the ball past him into an empty net.

Some more attractive individual play from Tioba again keeps the Walton keeper on his toes. A lovely free kick from Louis is just wide of the post. Lightning finish the first half stronger of the two teams.

Halftime 2-1

Walton start the second half in determined mood and Lightning have to resume defending as a team. However, In only 2 minutes Walton are level with a solid shot that beats George.

The pressure continues, and another long Walton shot goes just over the bar. Ben, on for Ned makes a darting run down the left side but his pass fails to find Vansh (on for Tioba) and Walton continue to press. Slightly against the run of play we win a corner. Louis finds Ben who dispatches his shot from fully 10 yards leaving the Walton goalkeeper no chance.

Walton continue to press and play some very nice football, but the game is developing in an end to end affair and it looks like the team that can finish their opportunities might be the victors.
Vansh has a good chance but is denied by the defence. As Lightning apply pressure, Riley has a free kick just over the bar. Walton break from the resulting goal kick and only a great sliding tackle stops the onslaught. Another corner another Walton strike but a solid save from George keeps Lightning ahead.

Joseph picks up the ball on another solo run and scores another great effort.

Stefanos, perhaps because of the mud, decided not to play in goal and makes his on-field debut. Working hard and not giving up anything in midfield.

Our next attack sees Ben’s shot blocked but Vansh in true poacher style gets a real centre forwards goal.

Walton are almost as resilient as Lightning and are still in the game. Louis produces a great defensive header but from the resulting corner Panthers score a third. The game is still close.

Lightning attack again and Tioba’s shot is blocked but he get a second chance and scores. Walton are still playing well. A one on one attack is halted by George.

For Lightning, Matthew is the next to try his luck and although his first shot is blocked his second finds the back of the net!
One more attack led by Tioba looking for his hat trick, but his shot goes just wide and the referee blows the final whistle. Phew!

Man of the Match Joseph

Goals Tioba 2, Joseph 2, Ben (just 1), Matthew and Vansh

Go-slow at Bushy Park

Lightning v. Hook Youth Blues

4 - 3

Nice to be back at Bushy Park. The clubhouse is a real plus. Now with a fully functioning coffee bar, bacon butties and even cake - remind me to arrive earlier on match days. We were playing on the pitch close to the old club house and it seems to provide more shelter from the elements.

After an enforced break the previous week, I think the entire team (and manager) were a little rusty. Warm up a bit laboured and a lot of chat.

Starting lineup - Stefanos, Cosmo, Louis, James, Riley, Ben, Matthew

We got off to a slow start, although managed to apply some pressure even winning a corner.
Hook looked more dangerous especially on the counter attack. So it proved - we went a goal down after 5 minutes and a second after 10. Neither were great goals and owed as much to our lethargy as Hook’s attacking prowess. Still one thing you can always be a assured of, Lightning are resilient and always ready to fight back. Heads never drop and like a tiger awaking from his slumbers, Lightning sprang in to action.
The first goal came quickly and involved most of the team. Needless to say Ben tucked away his shot with deadly accuracy and Lightning were back in the game. A slight injury to Louis added a little anxiety, and Cosmo stepped in to the last line of defence admirably. The team were now playing some really attractive attacking football and the second goal was almost inevitable - Ben finishing a move involving Riley, Matthew and Tioba.
Still time for one more before halftime and Ben completed a first half hat trick.

Halftime 3-2

The second half was a much more balanced affair and Hook threatened and threatened. Hook equalised 3-3, and the momentum was with the opposition. Lightning defended with resilience and George in goal made a string of fantastic saves to keep us in the match.
When Lightning attacked, we still looked dangerous - the Hook goalkeeper was also having a really solid game. Tioba with some determined running scored a beauty of a goal to put Lightning back in front and continued excellence in defence kept Hook at bay.

Final score 4-3

Goals Ben 3 (again!), Tioba

MoM George

Bracing!

BB Soccer Academy Tigers v. Lightning

1 - 4

2020 got of to a good start with our third meeting this season with BB Soccer Tigers. An exceptionally early start for the trip to Purley. So early that no one noticed that we were playing on a big (9-a-side) pitch, and it certainly didn’t detract from the Lightning performance. The pitches at BB aren’t the best (see Mud, mud glorious mud), so warm up focussed on firm passing to get the boys comfortable with the conditions.

The starting line-up saw George in goal, Matthew, Louis, Cosmo, Riley, Tioba and Joseph. The boys weren’t phased by the bigger pitch and most of the early play was in the Tigers half. An early substitution was needed when Cosmo proved too quick a Tigers player and Luke came to the fray in the unfamiliar position of left sided defence. Lightning’s pressure continued, and some quality runs from Matthew on the right, and Luke on the left providing good service for forwards Tioba and Joseph. Tigers played well and were defending well, but the keeper spilled a shot from Riley and Tioba beat the keeper to the ball and scored. More pressure and Tioba scored a second from a Matthew corner. Vansh and Ned came on for Joseph and Tioba and maintained the pressure on the opposition. George was having a relatively quiet day but Tigers did make some incisive attacks which were repelled in style. Daniel replaced Matthew at right back and showed again some dogged defending when called upon.

Half-time 2-0

James replaced George in goal and Louis replaced Riley in the centre of midfield. The full line up was James, Daniel, Cosmo, Luke, Louis, Ned and Vansh.

The Tigers proved they were no pusscats and for the next period most of the action was now in the Lightning half of the pitch. The boys didn’t panic and kept the Tigers at caged, albeit uncomfortably close to our penalty area. With 15 minutes to go, it was time to ring the changes, the rarity of a quadruple substitution hastily organised. Riley, Tioba, Matthew, and Joseph coming on for Ned, Vansh, Daniel and Luke. As Tigers tired the dynamic changed again in favour of Lightning. There were some really nice passage of play with players combining well and supporting each other in attack with some fluent passing and great dribbling, especially from Matthew, Luke and Tioba. The third goal went to Joseph who calmly put away his first following some good build up play on the right-hand side of the pitch. Joseph’s second was also well struck. With two forwards on a hat-trick, both started to get a little greedy and attempted more half chances in preference to passing. George came on for Louis at the back. A nice break away from Tigers found Lightning a little sleepy and deserved consolation goal was their reward.

The game finished. A gentle introduction to the new year, and a brace of braces but no match ball for the goalscorers this week.

MoM: Matthew
Goals: Tioba 2, Joseph 2

Thanks Christian for the headline suggestion "Early in Purley" – a career at the Sun beckons 😊

A very blustery day

Lightning v. Redhill Youth Volcanoes

3 - 2

A ferocious, bitterly cold wind greeted our last match before Christmas. Our opponents, Redhill Volcanoes, in warm up looked a tidy side. Our warm up consisted of plenty of running with the ball to keep the boys active. Just keeping subs warm during the game would be a challenge. The wind would play a major part gusting across the pitch towards the right side goal. The starting line up was James, Daniel, Louis, Cosmo, Riley, Joseph and Ben. Volcanoes, were quick off the mark but couldn’t make an impression on our defence. It wasn’t long (3 minutes to be precise) before Lightning found our stride, some nice passing from the centre of the pitch resulted in one of Joseph’s trademark penetrating dribbles with a beautiful strike that left the Volcanoes’ ‘keeper no chance. As often happens, our goal resulted in a slight loss of concentration from Lightning. Volcanoes applied pressure, and only thanks to some great last ditch defending from Louis and a couple of heroic saves from James kept our lead in tact. Luke came on for Daniel, but the substitution was short lived, as a stray elbow to the jaw, put Daniel back in the game. One save, saw James out of position, with his nearside post exposed, but he makes a fantastic leap to cover the gap and push the ball out for a corner. Matthew came on for Joseph, and Ned for Cosmo. Lightning by now had recovered their composure and some good attacks were repelled by the opposition. Lightning, persisted, and the pressure finally told. An attempted clearance by a Volcanoes defender rocketed in to their own net, almost as powerfully as Joseph’s earlier effort.

Halftime 2-0

Lightning now had the advantage of the blustery conditions with the wind behind them. George replaced James in goal, and Luke returned to the affray. Lightning started brightly, winning corners and generally playing the better football. As a team, we seem to have mastered corners, and our third goal came from a corner perfectly flighted ball which Riley despatched with a solid unstoppable header. Sometimes, you have to feel sorry for the opposition ‘keeper, who despite doing nothing wrong found himself conceding three goals.

Normally, at this point, Lightning would push on and the goals would flow, but credit to Volcanoes, like Lightning in previous matches, kept their heads and fought back bravely. 10 minutes to go. Volcanoes score, a mix-up in the middle of defence and they pounce. It’s at this point I’m slightly distracted by club chair… The battle rages around me but the club chair keeps chatting… Another injury for Luke. The chair keeps chatting.. Louis floored from a George clearance but we recover. The chair keeps chatting… The boys are doing well, but Volcanoes pressure tells and a second goal is scored. 4 minutes to go. The boys keep battling, its tough but an aire of calm hangs over the team and finally the referee blows his whistle. Relief! Now on to the important business of the day – FIFA room and team competition await.

Men of the match: James, Daniel, Louis, Cosmo, Riley, Joseph, Ben, Matthew, Ned, Luke and George
Supporter of the day: Tioba
Goals: Joseph, Riley, OG

PS: Thank you all for the fantastic gift – I’ll wear it with pride – Have a fantastic Christmas and looking forward to the new year.

Easy as 1-2-3

Caterham Pumas v. Lightning

3 - 6

Third week on the road, a black mark for the coach (extenuating circumstances and an inability to follow the sat nav) arriving after the players. Just enough time for a quick warm up. Not a good start, but the boys looked ready for the match ahead.

The starting line up was George, Cosmo, Joseph, Vansh, Riley Tioba and Ben, playing in a 3-1-2 formation. The pitch was variable to say the least, quite sticky especially our first half goal area. George described it as a mud pudding (no doubt inspired by Ned’s creative mud sculptures from last week).

All the early skirmishes were in the midfield seeing both Tioba and Ben dropping deeper to help Riley, with disciplined defending from Cosmo and Joseph (Captain for the day) and playing in the unusual position of central defence. Neither side had an early attacking edge. Lightning were first to score in a breakaway move. Going a goal behind seemed to spur Puma’s on and we came under increasing pressure as they gained the upper hand. Ned came on for Ben, and Daniel for Vansh. Fresher legs didn’t quite come off, as Puma’s equalised. Against, the run of play, Lightning won a penalty for handball. Riley stepped up, but the keeper wasn’t fooled and saved. From the keepers drop kick we were baten in the race to the ball and Puma’s scored with George stranded in the mud pudding preventing him from leaping to save.

Halftime 2-1

No changes at halftime, but some tweaking of the formation positions based on first half performance. Tioba moved to the right and Daniel moved back to right back. Cosmo moved to the left side. George was much happier with the goal area, and rediscovered his mobility, no longer stuck in the mud. Lightning equalised following some fluid passing and movement (are the warm ups starting to pay off?). We were level for only a couple of minutes as Puma’s scored a worldy of a goal from the right side that was unsaveable.

Lightning are a side that never gives up however, and only a goal down is nothing compared to some of the mountains we’ve climbed this season. Ben came on for Cosmo, playing up front on the left hand side. The game was definitely shiftingLightning’s way but we still trailed by a goal. Plenty of pressure and Puma’s were starting to wilt. Cosmo replaced Ned and we started an onslaught. 3-3,
3-4 a lead at last. It’s worth mentioning a remarkable save from George to stop the Puma’s possible fourth. From my viewpoint he appeared to let the ball through his legs, but no, he’d cleverly smothered the ball with his feet and body. He picked it up to the disbelief of the opposing bench. Puma’s were getting no chances on the left hand side as Daniel doggedly, extinguished attack after attack.
3-5 another team effort Tioba hit the post and Ben hit the rebound home.

Vansh came on for Tioba, becoming instrumental in Lightning’s sixth. Skillfully marking Puma’s ‘keeper, allowing Cosmo to deliver the ball to Ben who took his opportunity well for another hat trick. So, easy as one (Riley), two (Tioba) and three (Ben), well not quite but a great performance from Lightning. It’s a good job match balls aren’t awarded to hat trick scorers else Ben would be putting together a nice collection.

Full-time 3-6

Goals: Riley, Tioba (x2), Ben (x3)

MoM: Daniel

Postscript: Walking away from the pitch, I came across the Puma's goalkeeper, and his mum, who was rather upset by the difficulty of keeping goal in the second half. Thanks to George's mud pudding description of the goalmouth I was able to reassure him that he played well and was definitely hampered by the pitch conditions.

Bumpy landings

Rigate Priory Falcons v. Lightning

8 - 0

Following Lightning’s back to back wins, confidence this Saturday was high. A beautiful morning, cold, bright blue sky, but the pitch proved deceptive. Weeks of rain had left it’s mark and the pitch was incredibly heavy with the sort of mud that sticks to everything, almost clay-like.

What could possibly go wrong. As the boys warmed up I watched the opposition go through their paces. It was clear they were well practiced and if their coach was a little shouty the result was a well organised team.

We started with our now familiar 3-1-2 formation with Cosmo playing the link player, Louis central defence, Tioba and Ben as wingbacks. Up front Vansh and Luke, with James starting in goal completing the line up.

Lightning made the first attack of the game but the move broke down on the right and Falcons were quick to get players forward and scored with almost their first attack. Within a few minutes Lightning went further behind, again from a breakdown of play in the opposition half.

Falcons third goal was well worked, but enormous bravery from Louis almost rescued the situation stopping the ball on the line, only for the Falcons forward to bundle the ball over. In doing so he left Louis clearly injured necessitating an early substitution. James was busy in goal, and was putting body (and ear) on the line. Unfortunately, a minute after Louis enforced substitution, James took the full force of a Falcons shot to the side of his head. Having just used George to cover for Louis, Stefanos bravely stepped in to the breach. The game was still only a little over ten minutes old.

The Falcons manager was constantly barking his orders to his young charges. It wasn’t pleasant or necessary but there was clearly a lot riding on the game. I kept looking for Raul, Edu and co as I was certain he must be auditioning for his next role, the vacant Arsenal position. If he succeeds, I’ll send my season ticket back and start supporting Spuds.

Goals 4, 5 and six duly came without reply from Lightning.

Halftime 6-0

We had been over run by a well organised team. A change of direction was needed. The challenge now was to limit the damage inflicted. We started the second half with a determination not to concede as many goals. A more defensive 3-2-1 we hoped would help.

George took over in goal, Louis returned to the centre of defence supported by Cosmo and Luke. Matthew and Ned in midfield with Tioba as a lone striker.

The change worked well and despite the pressure from Falcons, Lightning played well and as the half progressed started to create chances of our own. Some great running from Tioba, a sequence of corners well taken by Cosmo and a beautifully struck shot from Matthew couldn’t redress the balance but the boys stuck to the task and kept playing without fear and I was QUIETLY impressed.

The game ended 8-0 to the home side but I think my season ticket is safe.

A word on our subs. The mud proved an entertaining distraction for all those on the sidelines at various times as their team mates toiled. The Xmas pudding mud pie (serves 6) the best of the various offerings, made lovingly by Ned. This, and his performance on the pitch, made him my Mudman of the match.

Well done all, the spirit of the team is unbeatable

Mud, mud glorious mud…

BB Soccer Academy Tigers v. Lightning

2 - 9

A miserable day, a cold breeze, drizzle and rain, and a sloping pitch also used for Rugby. The result mud – and lots of it. Not ideal for football, especially as this was Lightning’s first big test of the season. The corresponding game, our very first match, was played in bright sunshine, and despite a brilliant fight back ended in defeat (See report). This would be a very different affair. The squad looked good on paper but even the warm up was bitterly cold and I genuinely felt we might struggle in the conditions.

We started playing on the downhill slope, and adopted the same 3-1-2 formation, successful from the previous week.

Lightning started well and Tigers found it difficult to get out of their own half. Tioba and Joseph were playing in unfamiliar wing back positions but showed good presence both in attack and in defence. Passing and dribbling was in plentiful supply and Riley was dominating in midfield. Luke playing at the front for the first time also showed real promise and assisted with a great pass to for Riley’s first goal. The first half was certainly the Riley show, scoring the our second and third for a first half hat trick. Tigers proved resilient and fought back to a respectable 3-2, before Louis from centre back scored another.

Half time 4-2.

A great first half, but now for the challenging uphill leg. James made his goalkeeping comeback. Lightning applied great pressure despite the incline, and a fifth goal followed, as the opposition failed to clear turning the ball in to their own net. Ben returned to the affray and scored within a minute of coming on the pitch, with a deft touch. The drama continued, Vansh working hard suffered a very late challenge and had to retire from the game. Riley came back, and scored an absolute screamer to complete a double brace. Not to be outdone Ben got his second. The boys showed real maturity in their play and possibly the best goal. A short corner from Luke to Louis, a delicious cross and a beautiful volley from Ben completing a team goal, and in doing so making him our second hat trick hero of the day.

In summary, Lightning’s best performance to date, A+ for the boys, and for parents, the most extreme washing exercise this year…mud, mud glorious mud!

Goalscorers: Riley 4, Ben 3, Louis, OG

Player of the match (as voted by the players) Riley

The shape of things to come?

Lightning v. Oxshott Royals Blues

4 - 1

First challenge at Bushy today: Stop the goalposts being put away before we kick off. No goalposts no match.
Second challenge: Dragging the team away from an entertaining practice match on the adjacent pitch.
So, goalposts check, players check, opposition check, referee check, match ball check - looks like we’re ready to play.

We decided on a slight change in system today. Previously, 2-3-1, now 3-1-2, so new disciplines required from the boys. Lightning started brightly, and we were unfortunate not to score from well worked play from both sides of the pitch. Joseph, in particular was unfortunate with his efforts. Tioba and Riley looked lively, and Louis playing an unfamiliar central defender role was commanding. Behind him, George looked comfortable and dealt with all the oppositions shots which were increasingly long range. Matthew, Cosmo and Daniel came on for Joseph, Tioba and Riley and we continued to dominate without success. The game turned slightly in favour of the opposition, who were a very good side, playing some nice passing and putting us under more pressure as the half drew to a close. Players were starting to lose their shape a little in the new system, but we held it together.

Halftime 0-0

With James’ recent arm injury we decided to keep George in goal and allow James further recovery time, and so he replaced Luke as the right sided defender. The second half began with renewed energy from Lightning and some promising attacks involving Matthew, Ben and Cosmo. Cosmo was the first to strike. A well taken goal for a deserved lead. More substitutions, Tioba and Riley coming back on with Cosmo dropping back to central defender as Louis took a well deserved break. What dividends a substitution can make with Tioba scoring almost with his first involvement and Riley adding a worldy of a third a few minutes later. A little nervousness set in and Oxshott pulled a goal back, and could have scored a second if not for a quite brilliant save from George pushing the ball over the bar.
Lightning regrouped and found a little composure. One last substitution, Ben back on, and again the alchemy of substitutions got a result with Ben scoring shortly before the final whistle.

Lightning’s first victory, and well deserved. The whole team played really well. A Saturday to saviour. Here’s to many more.

Goals – Cosmo, Tioba, Riley and Ben
MoM: Tioba

Lightning fightback runs out of time

Walton Warriors v. Lightning

3 - 2

Lightning’s first game in almost a month, postponements followed by half-term, no training for three weeks, an early start and a cup match to boot. Add to that a referee without a whistle! I thought best to get all our excuses out right at the start.
The boys started slowly, defenders James and Luke having to work hard to keep the attacking Warriors at bay. Warriors pressure continued and in truth the boys couldn’t impose themselves in the early exchanges. On a bright note, new boy Riley looked good on the ball with some strong tackles and decent distribution that the team couldn't make the most of. Our first real chance came after about 15 minutes when Louis got on to a good pass from Riley, looked to have beaten his marker and was about to shoot and the Warriors defender brought him down. Penalty! Good run up, goalkeeper sent the wrong way but the ball agonisingly glanced the post for a goal kick.

The game was now evening out with both sides getting chances. Warriors second came after a goalmouth scramble which it appeared Stefanos had actually saved. The referee felt the ball had crossed the line and goal was awarded. At half-time JAR (James’s Assistant Referee) confirmed the correctness of the decision.

Second half, the boys were waking from their slumbers, playing better football and unfortunately went a further goal behind against the run of play.

The great thing about Lightning is that every last player never gives up. 10 minutes to go and by now Lightning are playing far the better football. Defenders Cosmo and Matthew have the measure of the Warriors attack and are building play from the back. The midfield are moving the ball around really nicely. A goal now and Warriors will certainly feel the pressure.

Six minutes to go, three corners in quick succession.

Five minutes to go a lovely team goal, the too many players involved to name them all but a great finish by Riley.

An electric last few minutes, with two to go another team goal, this one finished by Louis.

Could the boys, take it to penalties?

Alas not, just enough time for Warriors to kick off and the referee indicates time is up.

In summary, a slow start after a long break but a brilliant comeback that we couldn't quite complete.

Now, back to the league and much to be optimistic about!

Goals: Riley and Louis
MoM: Riley

Improvements, progress but no result

Lightning v. Reigate Vipers

2 - 4

Today was one of those days. Boys arrived with their usual enthusiasm and we fielded one of our strongest line ups with the players available. George started in goal, Ned and Louis provided defensive cover. Cosmo was our pivotal midfielder with Joseph and Tioba left and right, Matthew providing the striking prowess.
Reigate started more strongly of the two teams but their attacking was inert and skilfully marshalled by our defence. We looked strong on the counter attack but couldn’t initially breakdown a well organised Reigate defence. Neither goalkeeper was troubled in the first 15 minutes or so. Finally, a really beautiful move from Cosmo passing to Tioba who laid on a inch perfect pass for Joseph who took his chance with great composure 1-0 Lightning. Could we finally break our duck this week? Reigate’s equalising goal sadly followed swiftly, and it was a soft one, the ball barely over the line, but a goal nevertheless. For a minute or five our composure deserted us and it looked as if we might be overrun and were lucky that Reigate could only muster another soft goal. Ben came on for Ned just before halftime and quickly settled in to the unfamiliar role of right back as Louis moved across to the left. The second Reigate goal reawakened us, and a fantastic team goal scored by Tioba followed on the stroke of halftime. Plenty to play for.

Second half was a more drab affair and in truth neither side seemed likely to score. Lightning applied plenty if pressure and won several corners but simply couldn’t convert. The opposition were reduced to shooting from distance and their third goal actually came from a speculative effort just inside our half. The shot was good but conditions saw it skip off at least two Lightning boots before nestling in the back of the net. Their fourth goal near the end was well taken but again had a slight feeling of good fortune about it.

In truth this was a tough defeat in challenging conditions. The boys will get some points on the board soon of that I’m sure.

Heads up, chins up Lightning!

Goal scorers: Joseph and Tioba

Man of the match: Ben