That Robert Comer in goal touched the ball once in the whole of the second half pretty well sums up the significance of this Tigers’ performance. Up against the league leaders who had smashed in 30 goals in their last seven matches, including a 5-1 thumping of second place Fordingbridge just last week, Tigers showed great tenacity and resilience to restrict them to just two meaningful shots at goal.
Tipped off by the Wallop linesman last Saturday (!), Mark opted to try and snuff out the double-edged threat of the Whitchurch attack by playing Nick Comer as a deeper centre midfield in front of Scott and Lewis. Findlay and Jacob provided the width with Rob Sills up front. In the most picturesque setting of the season, overlooked by the village church, Tigers started much the better and were first to every ball. Early pressure was instantly rewarded as Rob Sills pounced on a rebound from the keepers save to make it 1-0. Clearly flustered, if not a little surprised, by the strength of their opponent’s start, Whitchurch were lucky to escape when a strong run and cross by Nick just eluded Rob’s outstretched foot. Findlay had started well and created a couple of half-chances with determined tackling and skilful passing.
As Whitchurch found their form the game began to ebb and flow, with corners forced at both ends. Tigers’ positioning was excellent and their decision making faultless. Scott and Lewis broke up attack after attack, dealing with their keepers long drop kicks and making tackle after tackle. Nick, Jacob and Findlay worked tirelessly to win their individual battles in midfield. A speculative long range effort was well caught by Robert looking into the sun without a cap on.
Then from Whitchurch the ball broke loose to the centre forward who turned and dragged his shot wide. Sadly this lucky escape for Tigers was not repeated two minutes later when the same player finished off a fast flowing move after evading Lewis and Scott for the one and only time in the match. 1-1 at half time. The second half saw Nick really stamp his authority on the game. He dominated the central area, driving Whitchurch time after time back towards their own goal. Adam replaced Jacob and immediately added zip and pace to the left hand side. Rob was having a tough time against two expertly drilled defenders, but from his low corner Nick flicked it onto the post. James came on for Findlay and his accurate pass to Adam drew a foul from the last man. Rob struck the resulting free kick hard, low and just wide. Will Garland replaced him shortly afterwards and Adam pushed up. Despite both sides endeavour in the last few minutes the quality of defending shone through at both ends, resulting in the low score. A fantastic point away from home against the top side – the tigers are roaring! Whitchurch Utd 1 M & T 1
Friendly Whitchurch Utd 2 M & T 1
Charlie, Will Hoggarth and Nick Evans added fresh legs and enthusiasm to the Tigers cause. However a slow start saw Whitchurch race to an early 2-0 lead – probably more like what they had expected from the league game! Tigers upped their game and created an opening for Adam, whose shot was well saved. Nick and Lewis sured up the defence; this mantle was taken up by Scott when he replaced Lewis halfway through. Adam’s neat pass to Will was struck on target powerfully but blocked by the last defender.
Adam, James and Charlie began to link up well as Tigers began to dominate play. Adam had a fascinating one on one battle with their excellent sweeper and showed great perseverance to get a shot away, but straight at the keeper. Meanwhile Nick and Scott defended heroically, often outnumbered three or four to two. Finally Tigers got their reward when a flowing move was well finished by James. Some more promising play in this game should mean that Tigers go into their final fixture before Christmas against Tidworth with confidence sky high.