Saturday 12th January 2019
Leftfooters 0-2 Leicester Wildecats
Leicester Wildecats began 2019 with a solid if not spectacular 2-0 in London against Leftfooters. Cats went into the game knowing that they would be in for a tough afternoon under the floodlights due to having only a limited squad available. Steve Crofts was forced out of retirement to take up his place in goal meaning that captain, Liam, took up an unfamiliar position on the left side of the defence. However, with regular centre pairing Gary and Ryan and midfield mainstays Mike and Gerard playing through the middle and looking to supply Darren upfront, Cats were still confident of taking the 3 points back to Leicester.
Leftfooters began the game as the better of the two sides, forcing the evergreen Crofts into a good early save at his near post. This would prove to be closest that the home side would come to a goal all game though as Cats used this early scare as motivation to start getting their own game together. From back to front Cats started to take control of the game, getting the ball into dangerous areas in the opposing half on several occasions. With 15 minutes played, Ryan delivered a free kick from deep which expertly found the head of Phil whose guided header crashed off the crossbar and out for a goal kick much to the relief of the home side. Cats came close again 5 minutes later when Steve Niblet won the ball in the air from a corner and knocked it down for Mike who blasted over on the half volley from 10 yards out.
The breakthrough did eventually come for the away side on the half hour mark. This time a well-worked move down the right hand side saw the ball pulled back towards the edge of the area before eventually reaching Liam who had the composure to take a touch to control the ball before curling it expertly into the top corner of the net from 25 yards to give Leicester a deserved lead. Cats continued to apply pressure after the opener but never seriously threatened the goal again before the break. They were forced into substitution shortly before the half time break after Guy was on the end on a nasty looking head collision but Leicester finished the first half content with their display.
As with the first half and following a similar pattern for the season so far, Cats began the second half slowly. Steve Niblet was involved again, throwing himself into challenges to try and get his team mates going. Their game plan was again disrupted 10 minutes into the half when centre back Gary had to be replaced after doing well to block a dangerous looking cross at the edge of the box but with Tom Smith making a return from the bench this softened the blow.
Tom Smith wasn’t the only one returning to Wildecats blue, as Adam was also making a rare appearance in the centre of a midfield three. As the second half moved on, he began to link well with Darren and Gerard, who by this point was running the game showing boundless energy and expert passing in trying to keep up the tempo of Cats play.
Midway through the second half Phil, who like Gerard, was having a big effect on the game with his strong hold up play helping to bring others into the game, was brought down under a questionable amount of pressure from a Leftfooters defender. But nonetheless, the referee deemed the contact to be sufficient and a penalty was awarded. With Chris, who missed Cats previous penalty, absent the responsibility fell to regular spot kick taker Darren who steered his penalty confidently into the corner to double the advantage. This goal was shortly followed by another Phil header which again crashed off the crossbar and a volley from Ryan after the ball had been cleared to the edge of the area but his tame effort dribbled hopelessly into the goalkeepers arms, leaving the away fans frustrated. With the game seemingly winding to a close both sides began shooting from distance rather than trying to play their football. The home side came the closest, hitting the crossbar twice in the space of a minute but there was no further score with the final highlight being an appearance from Jeremy despite him announcing his retirement 18 months ago.
Cats boss Mike will be pleased to take 3 points and comfortable win but will know that there is still plenty of room for improvement if his side are to bring the title back to Leicester. Man of the match votes were dominated by Phil and Gerard with latter claiming the award for a dominant midfield display.
|January 12, 2019||2:00 pm||GFSN National League Division 2||2018/2019|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|