Moors Academy posted their fourth defeat of this opening MFL Division Three campaign.
Having beaten Barton United twice this season in cup matches, Moors hopes were high as they travelled to Barton-under-Needwood. Yet right from the start The Moors were lacklustre and played much of the first-half at walking pace.
Barton, on the other hand, were epitomised by their captain George Stack, combative, hard working, competitive and physical. Even as the game drew to its close, the home side, obviously running out of energy, nevertheless, just kept going; finding the pace from somewhere.
As a home supporter said to me, “At the start of the season, Moors were winning all, but now, sides have worked you out, crowd the midfield and stop your passing game is the answer.” Certainly this was Barton’s game plan, together with a determination not to run out of steam. Clever use of substitutes was factored in to this blueprint. It worked to an extent.
In the event, the Moors were not crowded out in midfield. They played their way forward in their usual manner, and if Romario Martin had brought his shooting boots, would have scored another two, possibly three goals. This would have made all the difference. He missed a real sitter from six yards. With the goalkeeper beaten and the goal at his mercy, he placed the ball wide of the far post. It summed up The Moors' afternoon.
There were times when the hosts did disrupt The Moors' passing game, but in the main United’s goals were the result of poor defending at corners.
United took the lead after just three minutes. Quick passing resulted in captain Stack tapping the ball home. It took Moors six minutes to respond. A corner on their right led to Liam Taylor prodding home in a goal-mouth scramble. With three minutes to go to the break, United were awarded a free-kick wide on their right and almost a corner. Douglas powered the ball home. An unchallenged effort that prompted questions about marking.
Although at the break Moors were well in the game, and they had enjoyed a 60% / 40% possession, they were second best. Lethargic, and playing as individuals, instead of the high-energy team we were used to watching. Around the hour point, Little Sam brought on Siatour, Coyle and Okoro and this had immediate effect when Parsons bundled the ball home after Coyle’s shot was blocked for a corner at which the ‘keeper flapped.
With twenty minutes left both sides went all out for the winner. The Moors were camped in the home side’s half, but left the back door open. As Moors Academy poured forward, United were content to play on the break. It was exciting – and nervy – stuff to watch for both sets of supporters.
Martin was profligate in front of goal, Nitiri was punished for handling a back pass, and there were howls of protest at one or two off-side decisions. With eight minutes to go United won a corner on their right. It was scrambled home by substitute Dace. The home support went wild, as they had every right to do.
The Moors had been well below par, but take nothing away from the home side who deserved their win. Little Sam said, “We were complacent, and thought the job was done before we started! We were flat and too many were not on top of their game.”
Saturday 21st January 2017, Moors Academy welcome high-flying Montpellier to The Beehive. KO 2pm. Little Sam and his team have much work to do before then.
Moors: Nitiri; Clarke (Coyle); Hirst; McNally; Willock; Taylor (c); Shade (Siatous); Ryan Andrews ; Martin; Parsons ; Medford (Okoro). Subs not used: Kyle Mullally; & Forrest