On Wednesday, September 22nd, your Manteo Redskins hosted the Pasquotank Panthers for their fifth conference fixture of the season. The Panthers came into the contest with a 5-0 undefeated record. Manteo was ready to hand them their first loss of the season.
As the rosters of both teams were announced over the loud speaker, the sky opened up and a heavy rain drenched the players and the field. The rain would quickly pass, only lasting a couple minutes into the start of play, but the newly soaked field would make for slippery conditions to start the game.
Manteo asserted themselves immediately when Damian Rivera played Trent Hayman through the backline of the Panthers down the right flank just fifteen seconds into the game. Hayman struck the ball on his first touch from the corner of the 18-yard box. The goalkeeper seemed surprised at the shot as he watch it go past him to clank off the near-post and back out into play. It would be the first of many times the Redskins would strike the woodwork on the evening.
On the resulting goal-kick, Manteo won the 50/50 ball and continued to keep the ball in their attacking half. This trend would continue as Manteo controlled the overall possession and forced Pasquotank back into a defensive shell.
Six minutes ran off the game clock when Manteo earned a throw-in deep down the left flank. Eddie Turberville came up to launch a long throw in to the six-yard box. The Pasquotank goalie was pulled out of position well past his near post and the throw sailed past him. Damian Rivera put his head on the ball and placed it in the empty net to give the Redskins an early 1-0 lead.
When play resumed after the resulting kick-off, Manteo was quickly back on the ball in their attacking half. They kept the ball moving quickly with short seven to ten yard passes, and great off the ball movement from the midfielders. The Manteo backline was active in possession as well, helping to switch the point of attack when necessary.
Many of the Redskins’ possessions resulted in shots to goal, or were deflected out for corner kicks. Despite the many attempts, Manteo struggled to find their finishing touch. Shot after shot sailed high, was struck directly at the keeper, hit the post, or flew past the outside post by mere inches.
Despite a dominate half, Manteo entered halftime holding onto a 1-0 lead.
While Pasquotank had failed to register a shot in the first half, Manteo was eager to put a bit more distance between the two teams on the scoreboard.
In the first twenty minutes of the second half, Manteo put on a passing clinic. The ball zipped around the pitch with purpose and poise. The Panthers were having to continuously shift their defensive set, and were being run ragged. However, the Redskins still struggled to find the back of the net.
Opportunity after opportunity came for the Redskins, including multiple open nets from 6-10 yards out. However, rushed attempts left the score-line at 1-0 until midway through the second half. Twenty one minutes remained on the clock when Pasquotank tried to play the ball out of the back from a goal-kick. The clearance was chested down by Oscar Rivera on the left flank and pushed into space up the middle of the pitch. Rivera darted after his first touch, took a quick side-step second touch around a charging central defensive midfielder, and then stutter stepped in front of the center-back in order to freeze him. Rivera then delivered a crushing shot from just outside the 18-yard box. The goalkeeper waved his arm in disgust as the ball fizzed past him, stinging the back of the net.
The Redskins had certainly deserved their second goal and it seemed to put the game out of reach for the Panthers as they had only registered one shot at goal and really only one actual attack.
Seven minutes remained on the clock when Spencer James used a throw-in to find Hayman near the midline. Hayman headed the ball forward and down the left flank to Oscar Rivera. Rivera collected the ball and looked to go forward, but found his pathway difficult with two defenders in front of him. He pulled the ball back and played a simple pass backward to Hayman. Hayman then squared the ball centrally to Damian Rivera. Rivera’s first touch saw the ball pop up on him and as he waited for it to come down for him, he was pressed, causing him to turn and shield the ball. Rivera retained the ball but was forced to play diagonally backwards to the right-back, Alex Tovar. As Tovar collected the pass, Rivera continued his movement wide to the touchline, drawing two defenders with him. Manteo’s other double pivot, Cristian De Leon Ventura, then showed for the ball back in the middle of the pitch. The pass skipped past De Leon Ventura but found the feet of Hayman. With a defender already on his back, Hayman dribbled laterally, drawing a second defender, before using a burst of pace to beat both defenders. All eyes were now on Hayman entering the final third of the pitch. Aiden Braswell was slowing making a diagonal run off the back shoulder of the Panther’s center-back. Hayman played a perfectly weighted pass on Braswell’s perfectly timed run in behind the center backs. The ball led Braswell into the 18-yard box. The goal keeper came rushing out, going to ground early. Braswell took his first touch to the right side of the diving keeper, and used his second touch to knock the ball into an empty net for Manteo’s third goal of the game.
One minute remained on the clock when Braswell would seemingly net his second goal of the evening that stemmed from a blistering counter attack in which he put his pace on full display. However, the goal was called back. Braswell was ruled to have unlawfully used an extended arm to muscle the ball past the last defender.
The game ended with a 3-0 victory for your Manteo Redskins.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “This was a solid win for us against a good young team. However, we know we could of done much better overall. I laid into the boys at halftime, not because the score was only 1-0, but because we dropped our standard and level of play as soon as we took the lead. We still do not have that ruthless championship mentality yet, but we will keep working on it. On a positive note, our style of play was the best yet. The first twenty minutes of the second half were beautiful to watch. We are starting to learn how to control an entire game by dominating possession with simple passing play and off the ball movement. For that, I am very pleased.”
Damian Rivera: 1 goal
Oscar Rivera 1 goal
Aiden Braswell: 1 goal
Eddie Turberville: 1 assist
Trent Hayman: 1 assist
|Pass Success Rate||73%||51%|