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Youth Stand Firm

Facing a tough match, against top of the table Bridgend, the last thing Ecotricity-sponsored Stroud Men’s 1st XI captain, Alex Waring, needed was a glut of injuries depleting his options.  He was forced to make several changes on Saturday with 5 senior players unavailable.  The up-side was evident, however, as coach Rob Fynn’s youth policy is really beginning to pay off.  The 1st XI on Saturday contained five recent products of this youth system ; Rohan Sopp 15, Fin Dixon 16, Calum Norman 17, Rich Cartmell 20 and Zac Lees 21.  Stroud stalwart, Andrew Hines, was also recalled to the side, adding a little ying to the younger players’ yang !  Even more pleasing was how well the young players coped with strong and physical opposition.
The game started well, both sides passing the ball quickly.  The low, strong sunlight was a factor and Stroud’s players found it difficult to pick their passes or read the flight of aerial balls.  Bridgend found their rhythm quicker and began to put together some attacking opportunities, winning a few short corners and going close to scoring. 
Stroud maintained their discipline and worked hard to stay in touch, carving out a few chances of their own.  The game ebbed and flowed with both teams having spells with and without the ball.  Both keepers were called into action and the game looked delicately poised just before the half time break, when Bridgend managed to strike a crucial goal right on the half time whistle to go in 1-0.
The second half saw an impressive rear-guard action from the young Stroud side.  Stroud started well, looking to shore up the midfield and move the ball wide early.  They created several good chances and Danny Clifford earned a short corner with a powerful run into the D.  Rob Fynn’s strike looked to be going wide of goal until skipper Waring managed to get a sharp upright deflection on it.  The balled cannoned off a defender’s legs and found its way over the line to level the score at 1-1.
Stroud dug in and worked tirelessly for the rest of the half as the game became more physical and tetchy.  The umpires did well to keep a lid on things, as Bridgend became more and more frustrated when they failed to restore their lead.  Zac Lees ran selflessly up front, Calum Norman worked hard in midfield alongside Fin Dixon, both putting in some strong tackles. Rohan Sopp did well going forward with some great skills in and around the D, almost creating the winning goal in the dying moments.
Stroud could have sealed a famous victory with the last strike of the game.  The whole team went forward for a short corner after the final whistle.  Rob Fynn’s low strike went inches wide of the goal and narrowly missed the incoming stick of forward Lees.  Despite nearly snatching all three points Stroud were happy with a hard fought draw.

This entry was posted on 11 November 2012 at 17:40 and is filed under Mens 1XI | Match Reports. You can leave a response here.

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