Nighthawks Shut Out The Redskins

On Monday, September 23rd, your Manteo Redskins faced off against the First Flight Nighthawks for the second time in less than a week’s span. The previous encounter was a hard-fought game in which First Flight controlled possession but struggled to score early and often. They eventually netted two goals late in the second half to provide a 2-0 victory for the Nighthawks.

Upon the start of the second fixture, it was evident early on, Manteo planned to execute similar tactics as they had in the previous matchup. They held their formational shape behind the midline, looking to mark-up First Flight play-makers in the midfield while forcing the backline to become the main distributors.

First Flight was patient in their build-up, moved the ball well with a purpose, and made their midfield shifting patterns as the ball switched fields. Throughout the entire first half, Manteo looked lifeless. It was a surprising lack of energy to start a rivalry game with.

Manteo only saw a couple looks at goal before First Flight capitalized on a set-piece. Andrew Hayman drew a shot on goal after a nice bit of build-up play through the midfield and Alex Tovar and Yeifer Perez would both earn deep shots after the ball was cleared out of the box on differing corner kicks.

First Flight took the lead with twenty minutes left in the first half off their second corner kick of the game. The set-piece taker dropped the ball thirty yards back down the sideline as their outside left-back pulled up to receive the ball. As a Manteo defender quickly pressed the ball, the left-back sent a beautiful long cross to the back post. Manteo center backs were still holding just outside the six-yard box and positioned to clear the ball out but First Flight’s Tanner Bouker was on a mission to win the ball first in the air. Bouker came crashing in, elevating above Perez, heading the ball into the back of the net while knocking him down in the process.

Manteo looked to equalize quickly just minutes later off a corner kick of their own. Calvio found his target in Goetsch, but Goetsch’s header sailed just high over the bar.

With ten minutes remaining in the first half, First Flight doubled their lead. One of their midfielders received the ball in a pocket of space in the center of the field ten yards outside the 18-yard box. Manteo defenders were slow to close on the ball as several defenders stepped towards him but no one person, in particular, got on the attacker. The attacker found enough room to let one rip. The strike caught Manteo’s keeper, Ortega, on his heels and slightly moving the wrong direction. While the ball was not placed in a corner, it had just enough movement on it, coupled with the miscue of the keeper, to find the back of the net.

Manteo entered halftime down by a score of 2-0, and in all honesty, they were lucky to be down by only two after the little energy and effort that was displayed.

To start the second half, a fire seemed to be lit for the Manteo side, as they came out fired up and determined to make a game of it. They worked hard defensively, pressing any backline passes that had the slightest of miscues. When Manteo did win the ball, they looked to quickly move off the ball and in support of the ball to obtain runs of possession themselves. They did well to work the ball through the midfield and into the final third but they struggled to find the finishing touch to make a come back. They earned several shots on goal from around the 18-yard box and there were several scrambles inside the box off throw-ins and corners, but Manteo could not find the back of the net.

First Flight’s attack was limited in the second half with only a couple looks on goal. They did earn a penalty kick with thirteen minutes left in the game to make the score 3-0. It was a questionable call as Manteo’s right-back made a slide tackle deep in the box, winning the ball first and knocking it out of bounds. The First Flight attacker that was displaced from the ball did a great job of ensuring there was contact made after the defender won the ball and went to ground to earn the referee’s whistle.

Team Stats
MHS
FFHS
Possession %
33.9%
66.1%
Attacking Transitions
35
44
Goals
0
3
Shots
15
16
Crosses
6
18
Corners
6
5
Free Kicks
5
1
Passes
126
403
Successful Passes
80
332
Pass Success Rate
63%
82%

Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We have lots of positives to take away from the second half of the game. The team in the first half was not a team I recognized and I was shocked at the lack of energy and effort, it was unacceptable. If we had played as hard as we did in the second half during the first half, who knows what would have happened. We have got to become more in sync and creative in the final third and put our shots on target. We waste too many opportunities on goal with poor technique on our shots or headers or crosses. On the other end, we have got to attack balls in the air, whether they are punts or goal-kicks in the midfield or crosses that need to be put in the back of the net. First Flight dominated balls in the air by positioning and attacking them. We have to have the mindset that every ball in the air is ours to win and we need to understand why it’s so important to the outcome of the game.”

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