York Mitchell Sports League - Under-13s
Haxby Under-13s 1
Pocklington Under-13s 4
Pocklington played their first match for three weeks against tougher opposition in Haxby. Any fears regarding lack of match fitness were soon dispelled as a virtually full-strength Pocklington, missing only one player - albeit the combative and influential Jonty Peters - were immediately on the attack.
Within two minutes, both Connor Marshall and Dan Litherland came close, followed by a superb corner by Elliot Russell which Marshall shot just wide. Pocklington played some of their best football of the season, with a composed back four with George Booth slotting in next to James Snowball at the centre, Richard McKay at left back and Will Frasier at right back. Joey Cahill, playing as a defensive midfielder/sweeper, had his best game of the season and relished the greater freedom; some of his passing was superb. Matthew Pearson and Adam Falkingham also both had probably their best games of the season and combined well with Dan Litherland on the left wing and Elliot Russell on the right. Connor Marshall up front had plenty of service from the wings and through the middle. James Snowball, who looked solid at the back, also looked impressive going forward and had a rasping long range shot which was just wide.
The deadlock was broken after about 12 minutes by Litherland, who showed he has a decent right foot with a powerful low drive which beat the keeper. Pocklington now turned on the style; Litherland and Russell both troubled the defence and Pearson, in particular, again showed what a talented player he is with quick feet and neat passing. The second goal came from the predator Connor Marshall latching on to a Russell cross and doing what he does best, finishing with composure.
Within three minutes came Marshall’s second after a defence splitting pass through the centre and a surging run from Marshall who took on the keeper and scored with ease. On 25 minutes, Dan Litherland was fouled just outside the box, and was determined to take the resulting free kick, which he hit with power, for Marshall to hook just over the bar. Just before half time, with Pocklington in total control, Russell and Pearson were replaced by Alex Smith and Josh Craven.
The second half started brightly for Pock with more of the same. Matthew McGurk came on and George Booth switched to right back. Pocklington’s fourth goal came after a pacy run by Litherland who, having beaten his marker, instead of crossing noticed the keeper off his line and reverted to his left foot and calmly chipped over the keeper’s head.
Pocklington now seemed to ease off a little and Haxby came back into the game. Jack Potter in goal was much busier and commanded his box well. Adam Falkingham had a couple of good shots saved, as did Matthew McGurk. With more changes, and Marshall and Litherland rested and Craven injured, Haxby looked ever more threatening, eventually rattling Pocklington’s cross bar. Ultimately Haxby’s pressure paid off and a rash challenge just outside the box led to a free kick and Haxby’s consolation goal.
A much tougher test for Pock brought out the best in the players, defensively sound with another towering performance from James Snowball, lightning pace from George Booth, and outstanding performances from Frasier and McKay. There was some great understanding from the midfield, superb one touch, two touch passing, and more determination to be first to the ball from Pearson, Falkingham and Russell, who have added a harder edge to their play this season. Marshall and Litherland both seem to be in a rich goal-scoring mode. The contributions of Alex Smith, whose ability to hold up the ball and pick out the pass is a valuable asset, Joey Cahill relished his role as a sweeper, Josh Craven was powerful and committed, and Matthew McGurk, whose fitness has improved and consequently his pace has also improved, had some nice touches and got himself into goal-scoring positions.
An excellent referee who allowed the game to flow and explained his decisions to the players, played a big part in making this an excellent game of football.
Man of the match was awarded to James Snowball.