Basingstoke Bluefins Match Report

 

BASINGSTOKE BLUEFINS A 9 vs 19 CITY OF SOUTHAMPTON A

 

1. Mike Sheath

2. Allan Fairhead

3. Jason Milton

4. Chris Wintle

5. Iain Masson

6. James Stone

7. Gavin Bridger

8. Trace Morgan

9. Josh Lay

10. Matthew Girle

11. Trevor Jones

 

As the final game of the season approached, Basingstoke geared themselves up for one last push against a team that have been known to pull out all the stops to make sure Basingstoke don't win; Southampton City. Despite the game being played away from home, in a shallow pool, the team were in high spirits with the good turn out. A notable return being the prolific Allan Fairhead, who has been known to cause havoc in the Southampton pit and disrupt their style of play.

 

Unfortunately, Basingstoke were dealt an early blow when Southampton attacked after winning the ball in the sprint off and scored in the very first few seconds of the game. Although this may have knocked the spirits of the team, Basingstoke bounced back and got stuck into the game, desperate to make some sort of impact on the first quarter. Despite this renewed vigour, Basingstoke slipped another couple of goals behind, before finally managed to wear down the Southampton defence and score two well worked goals, leaving the first quarter finishing at Basingstoke trailing 5-2.

 

After a positive and tactical team talk by the coach, Iain Masson, Basingstoke went out aiming to inject and bit more discipline into the game, and task which they met well over the course of the game. However, the second quarter ended up very similar to the first, with Southampton scoring a few goals after catching Basingstoke on the break, before Basingstoke managed to wake up and hit back against southampton. The match was far from over though, with players like James Stone playing very well, strong in defence and getting into good positions on the break. The southampton goalkeeper continued to have problems with the lethal left hand of Gavin Bridger and the accurate long shots courtesy of the vice-captain, Trace Morgan. The second quarter finished 10-4, meaning Basingstoke would need a highly effective turnaround if they were to get something from this game.

 

Half Time Score: Basingstoke 4-10 Southampton

 

Basingstoke, despite being 10-4 down, still were not yet beaten, and went out in the third quarter desperate to stem the flow of the Southampton attack. To that end, Basingstoke introduced a few more of their younger players in more prominent roles. Players like Matthew Girle and Josh Lay were thrown into the mixer on the attack, a wise move as this quarter proved to be Basingstoke’s highest scoring quarter of the match. Yet again Basingstoke threw everything they had at Southampton, with every effort being made from all the players, especially players like Jason Milton and Chris Wintle (also making a return to the squad) who worked tirelessly in the pool to shut out the danger men on the opposing team. Basingstoke struck more goals this quarter than any other quarter, but they couldn’t hold back the powerful shooting of Southampton and the third quarter ended 15-8.

 

Lining up for the start of the last quarter, Basinstoke knew that although the scoreline may be a reach too far, they were going to go out and make southampton work for the result they wanted. All the players knew that they wanted to make it as difficult as possible for the opposing team, and went out with the sole intention of upsetting the Southampton style of play and hopefully coming out with a more respectable score line. Goalkeeper Mike Sheath, who had been having an off game up until the half way point, really came into his own here, and Southampton found that shots they were expecting to go in were being tipped away at the last second, a performance which angered the Southampton players and inspired the Basingstoke players to work even harder, most notable perhaps in the form of Trevor Jones, who although was being denied the space to attack the pit, worked hard around the arc to keep Basingstoke’s shape, and to keep the other players moving around into different positions, a skill that had come straight off the training ground in recent weeks. Basingstoke did manage to claw back a goal, but Southampton weren’t to be denied, and the score line tells a different game to the one that took place. These were two well matched teams really fighting for a good result, but one which unfortunately didn’t appear.

 

Final score: Basingstoke 9-19 Southampton

 

Feedback:

 

From the captain, Mike Sheath: ‘We turned up wanting to give southampton a good game, and we certainly did that. Although we knew southampton always come out against us with a strong side, we still got into the pool wanting to prove that we could give them a run for their money. The highlights for me were seeing what we had been practicing in training start to appear on the pitch, as for me this is a very good sign for the future. The only few things i picked up on were that we need to work on our vision in the pool, and picking out the right pass to someone who’s in space. Also our communication, we need to talk to one another, as occasionally someone was in space, but didnt shout for it and the chance went begging. Finally our tracking back was a problem, southampton scored one too many goals on the break, with the free man scoring the goal. Despite all of that, i still think it was a game of positives, and that if we continue training in this way, and continue maintaining our discipline in the pool, then we are only going to keep getting better and better. If we had played the same way against a weaker time, i feel we would have had no problem at all. A shame about the scoreline, but the team should feel pleased with themselves.’

 

From the vice captain, Trace Morgan: More swimming needed on the attack as well as defence, s,hampton always set up a good zone defence, and they know we usually play quite a static attack, so more breaking in needed. Also if your attacker gets past you still chase him back so he he doesnt have the time to dummy the goalie, if too tired get out and let someone fresh in, apart from that we didn`t have too bad a game’

 

From the coach, Iain Masson: A formidable challenge faced Bluefins for their last league match of the season playing Southampton away from home. The team stuck to the task well. Commitment to team work (first class from Trace - but all are worth a mention), focus and discipline all contributed in giving Southampton a little more than they bargained for in terms of how we played. The end result although we lost was unfortunate. To me the score is not important at this stage. I was most encouraged by the progress we are making to change our style of play. To which the players must take some credit and reward.We are clearly starting to implement the areas we have been covering in training more with accurate passing while supporting each other giving the opposition problems. To have men in free space in key areas while attacking goals was a good example i.e. Trevor and James did well. Unfortunately we did not make full use of these opportunities - but I believe it will come in time. Our positioning during offensive (i.e. around the arc and at half way)is also taking better shape and we are tending not to drive to early which resulted in a static game that Southampton exploited on the break previously. We need to build on this with the drivers hitting the free space on the wings or towards goals. An area I/we will build into training.Captain with some really fine stops and Vice Captain I consider were the men of the match for me. With Trace just shaving it for tireless effort up front.’

 

From the chairman, Jason Milton: So the last game of the season came around and was against the old enemy, Southampton. As usual everyone was even more up for the game as it was Southampton and we had a good turn out as well allowing us four subs which was a great effort given some matches earlier in the season.
While we didn't win the game and the overall score showed us conceding a heavy defeat we had a good team effort. We played as a team, listened to the coach's instructions and for the most part stuck to the plan. Everyone worked hard and played for each other with good movement (still room for improvement of course!) as well as tracking back to defend.

Most of the team came away feeling that despite the loss (which none of us enjoy!) it was a positive step and that the new training is starting to pay off and more importantly they enjoyed it.’

 

Thank you and well done to all who played!

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