Lightning on the verge of a clean sweep this year!
Chasing a 100% record for the final league of the season and facing the toughest challenge of the year so far, Lightning lined up against a Kings Hill side that best them last time out. Conditions were tough with a wet pitch and howling 60 mph winds.
Preparations for this match had been in progress for a number of weeks and the players had their clear instructions to start the match. Facing the wind in the first half with a view to pressing home the wind advantage in the second half, Blair seemed to take a few minutes to get to grips with the wind and were working hard to play out from the back and keep the ball below the bluster.
The Sherriff had his kicking work cut out and his attempts to go long were quickly pressed back by the away side.
Despite the conditions, some excellent football gave Blair the first clear chance of the match when building through midfield, the excellent Harrison Liddle set he ball wide for a cross which narrowly evaded Inkpen and the onrushing midfield. Blairs football was promising but the press was tough to beat as Kings Hill pushed high.
Again, after some excellent work, involving Liddle and Inkpen, the opening goal came when Inkpen took a shot on early under pressure from the Kings Hill defence and the ball crept under the keeper and into the net.
Blairs midfield fought for every ball and left no room for any momentum with Carter and Barnes-Farnham snapping away at challenges. Continued pressure was paying off and Blair were awarded a controversial corner on 26 minutes. Once again, the players hard work in training paid off when the set piece led to confusion in the box and the bouncing ball was superbly and instinctively flicked over the keeper by Olagbemi and into the net to cement the lead going into half time.
The message was clear at half time that the match was far from over and that the second half would be a different challenge for the players and that the away side would come out firing. That proved to be the case as the wind had calmed and the match was more about football than the nitty gritty.
This meant that both sides had chances and the Sherriff was called into action on more than one occasion with one vs ones with the away side playing three up front chasing the game. The keeper showed why he is the best in the league with superb positioning and excellent decision making with the timing of his advance making him look like a seasoned professional and keeping his clean sheet intact.
The players did themselves proud, working out how to beat the press and breaking through midfield and created a number of chances and limiting the away side to hopeful balls into the now lighter wind. With 10 minutes or so to go, the goal of the game came when Harrison Liddle received the ball on the left edge of the box, turned, knocked the ball out of his feet and sent a beautiful curling strike into the corner of the net leaving the keeper stranded and leaving the away side with no hope of getting into the game.
With a third clean sheet of the mini league out of six, the keeper was named player of the match for his exploits in 1vs1s and the coaches were beaming after Liddle brought his hard work in training to the match and was rewarded with his magnificent strike.
Two more away matches left in the league will set the challenge of a 100% season for the players to cement the superb season they have delivered so far.