Herons win in Friendly over Fareham Town YFC
By Ian Blackburn
Old team-mates do battle in a good-natured friendly match.
Saturday saw the new look Herons come up against a couple of familiar faces in a much anticipated and well received friendly fixture away to Fareham Town YFC. Two former Herons playing for Fareham and a good professional and friendly relationship between the two teams' coaches Ian and Tony, was compounded with an opening pre-match gesture by former Heron, Aaron, when he presented his former coach with a gift adding a personal touch by including a hand-drawn picture and thank you note.
With the welcome complete a short warm-up session and team talk saw the Herons line-up with Daisy and Jonathon taking the first stint on the subs bench. Taylor, Alfie, Ben, Louie, and Josh took their positions on the field and Fareham Towns kick-off after they won the Rock, Paper, Scissors kick-off decider. Fareham started off brightly and took the lead in less than a minute after some good determination and counter-attack passing was completed with a tidy shot that flashed past Herons GK Taylor. Buoyed by their early breakthrough, Fareham quickly asserted dominance of the first quarter. The Herons needed to push play up the other end of the pitch and some tenacious tackling from Ben, Louie and Alfie forced the ball to break forward to Josh who collected the ball and advanced forward. The Herons piled forward but a good Fareham tackle allowed their GK to claim the ball, and launch a counter-attack as he lifted the ball forward over the Herons to the waiting attacker who latched onto the long ball and calmly slotted it past Taylor for Farehams' second. A well-worked corner a few minutes later resulted in a pass across the goal area evade the Herons defence and a hungry Fareham attacker poke the ball home to increase their lead to three.
A ten-minute water break and substitute rotation with Daisy and Jonathon replacing Ben and Louie, and Taylor moving into defense and Alfie moving into Goal-keeper position. This seemed to break Farehams' momentum and the Herons started to assert themselves into the game for what was to be an epic fightback. Taylors move into defence alongside Daisy started to thwart the Fareham attack somewhat, and the forward partnership of Jonathon and Josh began to flourish with Daisy getting forward whenever the Herons had possession. The next ten minutes to half-time produced a four-goal glut which turned the game on its head. Jonathon opened the scoring when he grabbed the opportunity to come deep and win the ball before dribbling past the Fareham defence and shooting across the goal to beat the keeper at the far bottom corner. The confidence this gave the Herons was clear to see as they began to defend higher up the pitch in the Fareham half and the applied pressure took its toll on the Fareham defence as Jonathon once again found the ball at his feet within shooting distance, a quick turn and well taken shot resulted in the Herons second goal and the fightback was truly on.
A couple of good counter attacks from Fareham in which the defence of Taylor, Daisy and, Alfie in goal, managed to do enough to prevent Fareham stretching their lead, and Jonathon and Josh tracking back to help out when needed re-inforced the coming together, determination and improved teamwork which earned the Herons another two goals before halftime. Defending high up in the Fareham half the ball was bobbling between five or six players when it fell to Daisy who, with a neat turn, controlled and threaded a through ball to Josh who struck the ball cleanly past the Fareham goalkeeper. The fourth saw two goal Jonathon turn provider as he tracked back to win the ball deep and sent Josh away on a break, Josh maintained his composure and took the ball on to execute a good finish and put the Herons in front for a half team lead by one goal.
In the second half more substitutions were made and Louie and Ben returned to action in place of Josh and Alfie with Ben having a go at goalkeeper and Louie joining Jonathon in midfield-attack. The Herons picked up where they left off with Jonathon completing a hat-trick early in the second half and despite some positive spirited play from Fareham resulting in a couple of good shots at goal from ex-heron Aaron, it was the Herons who kept the score sheet moving as the support play from Daisy and Louie often dragged defenders away to give Jonathon space to add to his hat-trick which he did a few minutes later. A few more rolling subs and a final change in goalkeeper giving Louie a chance in goal allowed all the Herons to enjoy the second half as the goals kept coming for them throughout, leaving the Herons finishing ahead by a significant margin. Fareham did have some good play in the second half but saves from Ben and Louie, and good defending from Taylor with help from the other Herons prevented them from adding to their tally from the first half.
For showing excellent control and passing of the ball and the willingness to run the channels to help in both attack and defence the Herons MOM was presented to Daisy at the end. In good spirits, a fun penalty shootout for those who wanted to join in, ended a what was a good day for the Herons result wise and which added to strong relations being built between the two teams.