End of Season comes without a bang (and more of a crack)
By Stephen Tabb
Make-shift Sils lack cohesion
Last game of the season for Sils M3, and knowing that both they, and their opposition were safely mid-table, this game had a very end of season feel to it. Stone arrived with a very different side to the one that had been comprehensively despatched before Christmas, whilst Sils themselves had called in favours from left, right and centre, to make up a team as the school had taken a number of players away on tour, and Captain Nick was off on holiday as well.
The side that Sils managed to assembles actually looked like a fairly competent outfit, but with two main flaws - there were no more than about 4 players who had played in the same team as each other all season, and also there were very few recognised defenders. In light of this, Sils opted for a 3 man defence, and hoped to push high up the pitch. This worked for the first few minutes, with Sils dominated possession and Sam Stephen (guesting from the Vets team) looking dangerous. Twice in the first two minutes Sam found space in the D - the first time hitting the post, and the second time, whilst looking to create space, he managed to roll his ankle, and also getting "speared" by a Stone jab tackle meaning that his contribution to the game was offer (it transpired that he had sprained his ankle, and had a bone chipped off it).
This meant an early re-organisation, and sadly, Sils were not completely aware of their roles, as the Stone right midfielder picked up the ball in space and thundered the ball into the top corner - leaving GK Ben Rice with no chance.
The remainder of the half was dominated by Stone - Sils gave a good account of themselves, but their lack of cohesion meant they very much played like a team that was not used to be being team! Simon Russell worked hard in midfield, working with John Rice to create chances, and on another day, Andy Rush would definitely have had a hat-trick, but the ball just did not want to go on. At the other end, every half-mistake that was made by the Sils defensive unit was capitalised on by the visitors, leaving the score at 3-0 at half-time.
The second half continued as the first had finished - Sils spurning chances, and Stone scoring from theirs. Stone took a 4 goal lead, and so this prompted a reshuffle. The Chairman moved to the back, and swapped places with the ever-willing Alex Milne. It was not long before a good move down the right involving John Rice, Jacob Webb and Jake Johnstone resulted in Simon Russell being able to shoot reverse stick passed the stranded visiting GK. This felt like just reward for all of Sils' endeavours, but with further chances being created, but not converted, with the Stone GK keeping further efforts from Rush and John Harrison out, this game always felt like one that was slightly out of reach. Another half-mistake at the back by Sils was punished in the most efficient way by Stone, to leave the score at 5-1, but their will still time for the Chairman to have the final say, stepping up from the back at a PC which had been won by the strong running of James Gregory, and smashing home from the top of the D.
Stone deserved their win, but 5-2 probably flattered them a little. The M3 ending the season once again having done a great job of developing younger players - Thomas Rose definitely benefiting from the support he has had this year - and providing opportunities for others to continue playing in a competitive, if not too competitive, division. The league re-structure will bring a welcome refresh to the teams playing in this division, but we look forward to hopefully playing Stone again next year - they are a decent bunch of guys, and play the game in the right spirit. Man of the Match goes to Joe Treanor, for a hard-working display at the back, making several last ditch tackles.
The younger members of this squad will hopefully continue their development through Summer League, the older members will keep their weary bones and muscles moving through also playing in Summer League, whilst the remainder will take a well deserved rest over the next few months.