MATCH REPORT | MILDENHALL TOWN U14 v HITCHIN TOWN U14
Mildenhall U14’s continued their pre-season schedule as they competed in a friendly against Hitchin U14’s.
The fixture, which was played at Chatteris 3G, started off poorly by the under-14’s, with the tempo being too slow and the shape being too narrow in possession, leading to the boys struggling to maintain possession successfully. Although the boys took the lead, they were quickly pegged back after some rushed play at the back and the boys went in after the first third with the scoreline level.
With a number of substitutes available, after the first third, the coaches rotated the line up to give all players reasonable playing opportunities. The first third was seen as a poor performance and the same line up was keen to make things right when they'd be swapped back on in the final third of the game. With the performance so far not up to Mildenhall standard, the new players knew what was expected from them and upped the tempo of the game instantly in the middle third of the fixture.
Both teams scored again during the third and the game stayed level going into the final third of the game. When the players discussed at the break what went well and how it could be improved, comments varied with all agreeing it was “better, but still not up to standard”. The performance improved but the result staying the same and Mildenhall knew what they had to do in the final third of the game.
So with 30 minutes left to play, the boys knew they had to be ruthless in front of goal and stern at the back to ensure they left the pitch as winners of the game. The boys had improved their performance in the second third and had to continue and build on that to win the game.
Mildenhall went into the final 30 minutes guns blazing as they quickly took the lead for the first time against Hitchin Town. They quickly added another one as Hitchin dedicated bodies forward to attempt to equalise, and Mildenhall exploited that on the counter attack with a well worked finish.
The final goal came from a perfectly placed ball in behind after some excellent pressing from the Mildenhall midfield to win the ball and knock the ball in behind where it became 1v1 against the keeper and he beat the keeper to slot it into an empty net. The focus was then for the boys to see out the game and think smartly to manage the situation they were in and they dealt with it perfectly as they finished the game as winners.
Alfie Tate, who oversaw the game alongside Paul Braybrooke said this on the game: “I thought the boys showed great character. To be pegged back, go behind and still bounce back and win showed the character and resilience of this group.”
I thought the younger players were excellent as well – they stood up to the challenge of playing an older group and showed good aggression to win the ball and compete throughout the game.”
I thought the first third we were poor, and the boys all knew that, but we highlighted the key points and the boys applied them into the last two thirds and we bounced back to win which is what we all wanted, as well as a solid performance.”
Hitchin proved a tough physical and mental test for the boys and was excellent preparation for all the players going into the season.”