On Monday, September 27th, your Manteo Redskins traveled into Elizabeth City to take on the Northeastern Eagles. Both teams have had strong season’s so far and the fixture was sure to be a tough contest.
The game kicked off to find Northeastern the early aggressor. Three minutes into the game, Northeastern had worked the ball down into their attacking final third. An attacking midfielder received a cut back pass just outside the 18-yard box. The attacker was given enough space as the Redskins did a poor job of closing him down early. He curled a shot from deep that dropped down over the keeper and clanked off the crossbar and back into play. Manteo was able to clear the ball from danger but it was an early warning sign that the Eagles came to play.
Manteo responded right away on a resulting goal-kick. Trent Hayman brought the ball down along the right flank near the midline and completed a dribble down the wing. Hayman turned the corner to get into the box before playing a cut back ball on the ground to Amyas Kenyon. Kenyon had positioned well on his run into the box. He took one quick set up touch and looked to shoot on his second touch. His shot was blocked by a defender and the ball bounced kindly to the top of the six-yard box. Dylan Jones was first the ball and favored his strike first time amidst a crowded box. The shot was saved by a well positioned goalkeeper.
Both teams began to settle in to their style of play. Northeastern sat back behind the midline, offering no high pressure above the midline. Instead they looked to set mid-level pressing traps along the flanks. The Eagles kept both their forwards flared wide in the slot and looked to play long ball service into the wide channels once they intercepted a Manteo pass. Manteo was able to walk the ball up to the midline anytime they dispossessed the Eagles. They were able to pass the ball easily along their backline and switch the point of attack from the back when they wanted. The wide pressing traps were not overly effective, however, Manteo did struggle to pass through the Eagle’s backline. When they did, it was through one verse one play down the right or left flank. Combination play up the middle was lacking continued runs and passes that would make the backline turn and face their goal. The Eagles were happy to keep the Redskins playing backwards.
Fourteen minutes into the game, Manteo built an initial attack that was handled by the Eagles, but the ball was won back by the Redskins and reset along the backline. Center-back, Eddie Turberville, switched the point of attack, finding Hayman on the right flank. Hayman received the ball from Turberville with a defender on his back. He quickly turned the defender and raced down the wing, narrowing in as he approached the box. Just outside the 18-yard box, with two other defenders closing in, Hayman fired off a rocket that laced the far-post side netting. Manteo took an early 1-0 lead.
Northeastern continued their tactics through the first half, looking to sit back and counter with quick long balls. Part of their best attacking opportunities came from winning free kicks in their attacking third. In the twenty third minute of play, the Eagles earned a free-kick ten yards outside the 18-yard box. The kick-taker opted for the shot and bent a shot around the wall. Cody Weaver was well positioned and got his body in front of the shot as it skipped off the ground just before reaching him. The ball bounced off his chest and in front of him. Weaver was able to quickly cover up the rebound before the Eagles could pounce on it. The Manteo defense stood and watched Weaver with little to no reaction to the rebound.
Manteo went into halftime holding onto the 1-0 lead and in control of possession and the tempo of play.
In the first ten minutes of the second half, the game progressed much as it did through the first half. With each passing minute, Manteo’s possession play diminished as their off the ball movement became lazy, and passing options were minimal. This gave the Eagles more attacking transitions and they were always ready to get downhill on the attack as quick as possible.
With twenty-three minutes remaining on the clock Northeastern was eager to equalize and was pushing more bodies forward in their attacks. An attacker got a low and slow shot off that caught Weaver going the wrong way from the edge of the box. The ball deflected off the bottom far-post and back across the goal-line. Weaver swallowed it up easily but their luck was running out.
With nineteen minutes left to play, Northeastern took a free-kick from the midline. The ball was launched into the top of the 18-yard box. Turberville rose up to head the ball out, challenging the attacker in the air. Neither won the ball cleanly and the ball was deflected back into the box. An Eagle was first to the bouncing ball as Alex Tovar and Brian Estrada-Tovar looked to chase it down. Tovar and Estrada-Tovar were the only Redskins to react to the ball in the box. Turberville was on the ground after the aerial duel, and the rest of the team stood and watched. The attacker played the ball back across the goal to a wide open Eagle directly in front of goal. He was able to pass the ball into the net from five yards out.
The equalizing goal gave the Eagles all the momentum going forward. The Redskins were down to two subs on the bench, with one in-game injury and many players left at home for various reasons.
Hayman looked to quickly respond with a shot from 30 yards out. He struck it true with the laces and the shot knuckled and changed direction twice but the goalkeeper was able to block it at the last second.
Ten minutes remained and Aidan Braswell elevated his play, working hard up top in the number nine position. Braswell pressed high as the Eagles tried to play out of the back off a goal-kick. Braswell turned the fullback over on the edge of the box, and then dribbled down the end-line before cutting the ball back to the feet of Jones. Jones got his shot off, but it was a foot wide of the upright.
With eight minutes remaining in regulation, the Eagles took another goal-kick. They maintained possession of this one in the midfield and looked to play a long ball past the Manteo backline. Estrada-Tovar tracked the ball in the air and tried to clear it out on his first touch as he ran backwards. His clearing touch fell directly to an Eagle attacker in full stride towards goal. Estrada-Tovar looked to recover on the ball and got a shoulder into the attacker but he was able to drill a low shot across the goal, perfectly placed into the far-post side netting. The home side erupted with cheers and celebrations as the Eagles took a 2-1 lead.
The Redskins did not offer enough in the remaining eight minutes of play to equalize. The Eagles held on to win an important conference fixture and Manteo was sent home with their first conference loss.
Coach Cleaver stated after the game, “We did not play well enough for 80 minutes to win this game. In the first half, we played alright but not great. In the second half, with a lead to protect, we played uninspired and did not do the little things. Too many times, we have too many players only playing one side of the ball, expecting others to do all the defending for them. That does not work against good teams. We came into the game with lots of team distractions. Hopefully we can mature as a team, buckle down and refocus to win this conference.”
Trent Hayman: 1 goal
|Pass Success Rate||72%||65%|