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